Churches and coffee, two powerful forces in their own right, apparently go together surprisingly well. In fact, there are several coffee shops that are actually inside churches around New York City. From cafes within cathedrals to churches within coffee shops, it’s now easier than ever to combine religion with caffeine. Many of these coffeehouse-church hybrids also serve as music venues and fuse together music, faith, and coffee, thus giving everyone something to believe in.
Read on to discover some of the best coffee shop-church combos in Manhattan and beyond.
1. The Coffee Shop in the Norwegian Seamen’s Church
The Norwegian Seaman’s Church, located at 317 E 52nd street, has its own coffee shop in the back of the sanctuary, and you don’t need to be Norwegian or religious to enjoy it. The cafe serves tea, coffee and Norwegian waffles, along with soft drinks. The waffle plus tea or coffee combination is $3, with sugar and jam as topping. You serve yourself on a fun platter with a built-in spot for your coffee cup, featuring the monogram of the church. Once a month, they serve a buffet lunch featuring Norwegian delicacies. Adding to the coziness, there’s a brick fireplace (non-functional) and a grandfather clock.
One of the best finds here is the small grocery corner filled with Norwegian staples, including chocolates, licorice, baking ingredients, jams, and packaged soups. There’s even a waffle maker.
Originally, the church was founded to provide a respite and gathering place for Norwegian sailors in the late 1800s. In 1878, the Seaman’s Mission in Bergen, Norway sent Ole Bugge Asperheim to set up a church in New York. He purchased a church in what’s now Brooklyn’s Red Hook (home now to the Robotic Church), which would house Norwegian seamen for the next fifty years. In 1928, the congregation moved to the former Westminster Presbyterian Church, on Clinton Street in Brooklyn. The church provided shelter for many Norwegian descendants during the Great Depression.
Eventually, the church moved to Manhattan, and by 1989, the church had to move to an even larger building due to an influx of attendees. They settled on two adjoining brownstones on 52nd Street, and converted them to today’s church.
The church serves as a cultural hub where Norwegian immigrants, exchange students, au pairs, and everyone in between can congregate and caffeinate.