From Greek diners serving bottomless coffee in the forever classic Anthora to-go cups to $10 latte’s, coffee is a staple in New York City. This is certainly nothing new — coffee culture goes way back. In the late 17th century, women throughout the city were often found roasting coffee beans in their homes, filling the air with blackened smoke. Later, in the middle of the 19th century, New Yorker Jabez Burns would invent a sample roaster, allowing for big batches of coffee beans to be roasted for use by the masses. Gillies Coffee Company, the country’s oldest coffee merchant, would get its start in 1840 on Washington Street in lower Manhattan and America’s first espresso machine, built-in 1902, can be found in one of the best Greenwich Village coffee shops, Caffè Reggio.
On November 18th at noon be sure to grab a cup of your favorite brew and check out our virtual Greenwich Village Coffee Tour, which will cover the surprising history of coffee in New York City.
During this virtual talk with Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers, guests will learn more about the former cafe that became the unofficial birthplace of the off-off-Broadway theatre movement and how New York City’s coffee culture played host to the Stock Exchange and was considered to be the world’s first internet cafe. It will take place online and is free for all Untapped New York Insiders. You can get your first month free using code JOINUS. Below is more information on the Greenwich Village coffee shops that will be featured in the tour.
Greenwich Village Coffee Tour
1. McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Co.
Since 1895, McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Co. has served members of the Greenwich Village neighborhood. With dark hardwood floors and burlap sacks scattered throughout, McNulty’s resembles an old supply store more than it does a coffee shop. Regardless, the store’s selection of exotic coffee and teas transport customers to faraway lands across the globe.
Known for its affordable prices, this shop provides multiple offerings from oolong and herbal teas to Rwandan Coopac and Uganda Bugisu coffee blends. Much of the shop’s tea scales and chests date back to its opening, giving customers a chance to travel back in time. When visiting McNulty’s in person be sure to also check out their tea steeping essentials and coffee brewing kits.
2. Porto Rico Importing Company
For three generations, the Porto Rico Importing Company has been owned and operated by the Longo family. Italian immigrant Patsy Albanese started the store in 1907 at 195 Bleecker, providing recent Italian immigrants like himself with the comforts of home in the form of spices, dried mushrooms, oils, pasta, and coffee and tea. Across the street from Porto Rico at 201 Bleecker Street was the Longo Sanitary Bakery, owned by the Italian Longo family. In 1958, Albanese sold Porto to the Longos and the store moved into the bakery’s former space. To this day, third-generation owner Peter Longo still lives upstairs from Porto Rico. Even as the business has continued to grow, the Longo family has been committed to ensuring it remains true to the sensibilities of the neighborhood, bringing together customers and employees into one collective family.
Porto Rico offers 130 varieties of coffee from countries like Burundi, Indonesia, and Guatemala. Its tea selection is just as expansive, with options including their Tanzanian Usambara and Assam Koilmari blends. The company is most well known for having helped to pioneer flavored coffee, which began as a trend during the 1980s. With flavors ranging from caramel to chocolate cherry and blueberry creme, the Porto Rico Important Company has countless options for customers to choose from. In addition, the store offers a selection of candy, including chocolate-covered espresso beans and pumpkin pie coated almonds with a graham cracker crust. Besides candies, other unique products include Torani Italian syrups used primarily for Italian sodas.
3. Caffè Reggio
Considered to be the grand dame of Greenwich Village coffee shops, Caffè Reggio was opened in 1927 by Domenico Parisi, an Italian immigrant. Located at 119 Macdougal Street, it became the first American cafe to serve cappuccino. Complete with tin ceilings and Italian furnishings, Caffe Reggio retains much of its original interior design from when it was frequented by writers from the Beat Generation like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
One of Caffè Reggio’s most prized possessions is a 1902 chrome and bronze espresso machine, having cost the store’s original owner $1,000 to ship from Italy. Considered to be the oldest espresso machine in New York City, it originally operated on coal before transitioning to gas in the 1970s — around 20 years after the store was bought by Niso and Hilda Cavallacci. Today, Caffè Reggio is owned by their son and the espresso machine holds an honorary place on display inside the store.
4. Rosecrans & Ad Hoc Collective
Overflowing with plants of all kinds and rugged rustic decor, Rosecrans is a part cafe and wine bar, and flower shop. Located at 7 Greenwich Avenue, Rosecrans’ quaint and cozy atmosphere welcomes customers inside. Having opened in 2019, Rosecrans provides a refreshing change of scenery from more traditional coffee shops in the area.
Ad Hoc Collective is a cafe-slash-home good shop under the same owners of Rosecrans. At Ad Hoc Collective, all decor is for sale, allowing customers to take home their favorite pieces after enjoying some of the shop’s signature drinks and food items.
5. Original Joe’s Coffee on Waverly
Though Joe’s Coffee may currently be a citywide chain, its original location first opened its doors right in the heart of Greenwich Village at 141 Waverly Place. The company was founded in 2003 by Jonathan Rubenstein as a singular specialty coffee cafe that sought to provide high-quality unique coffees and a comforting space for the community to gather together.
To ensure the best quality, stringent standards are used when selecting coffee beans, which requires hundreds of samples of coffee being tested on a yearly basis. In addition, Joe’s Coffee maintains a seasonal rotation of beans and works with transporters to ensure the safe arrival of all goods. Joe’s Coffee also fosters and promotes the continued education of their baristas through providing industry-leading professional training. For the environment, the company is also committed to building sustainable relationships with importers, exports, brokers, and farmers.
Greenwich Village Coffee Tour
Next, check out 9 NYC Cafes Frequented By Influential Authors!