Where to find the best coffee in NYC

The latte at La Colombe Torrefaction
The latte at La Colombe Torrefaction

I’m standing in line at La Colombe Torrefaction in Tribeca. The baristas act blasé, as if you’re interrupting their coffee break. They haven’t taken on the “overly sweet because of the economy” attitude I’ve experienced elsewhere. No, they just assume people will love their coffee, and indeed they do, as proven by the long line at 2pm. I order a latte (and a pear tart), both of which are perfect, and find a seat next to a friendly woman who smiles at my daughter S. Being a mom and running a business, I need my daily caffeine fix and lattes are my drug of choice. La Colombe Torrefaction and the following are my favorites.

At the cozy Joe The Art of Coffee in the West Village, you may find yourself sitting across from an Oscar winner like Philip Seymour Hoffman or Jessica Lange (as I have), but the real lure here is the coffee. It’s rich, creamy and consistent. A large latte gives me exactly the buzz I crave. Although it can be hard to find a seat, there are two benches outside. Either way, you might end up seeing the hilarious Amy Sedaris (sister to David) who used to drop off her cupcakes here.

Roasting Plant became my go-to coffee shop when Baby S was a newborn and I was living on little sleep, which means the coffee here is potent. Choose from a variety of beans, and then for a dose of science fiction, watch them shoot through a tube on the ceiling, after which the beans are ground to order—i.e. the freshest cup in town. (You can also see and smell the beans being roasted in the Roasting Plant Javabot at the Greenwich Ave location.) With only 4 seats, you’ll probably have to get your cup to go. But if you’re get there at the right time, and you happen to have your laptop, each seat has an outlet—and there’s wireless. And if you buy a pound to take home, they’ll give you a free cup of coffee. I’m addicted to their Block Party Blend which, sadly, isn’t always available.

When you feel like you can’t make it through the day, or when you need to be up all night working, writing, whatever it is that inspires you, stop by Abraço (which means embrace on Portuguese) for a fix. The creamy lattes at this minuscule coffee shop, whipped up by co-owner/barista Jamie, are all the fuel you’ll need to stay alert for many hours. If you’re hungry, try two standouts: homemade olive oil cake or the custard fritatta. Since there aren’t a lot of seats, this is another place where you may need to drink your coffee on the go. But trust me, you won’t want to relax after drinking Abraço’s strong brew.

La Colombe Torrefaction
319 Church St at Lispenard/212-343-1515
270 Lafayette St between Prince & Houston

Roasting Plant
81 Orchard St between Broome and Grand/212-775-7755
75 Greenwich Ave near 7th Ave

Joe The Art of Coffee
141 Waverly Place (west of Sixth Avenue)/212-924-6750 (other locations, too)

86 East 7th St (west of 1st Avenue)/212-388-9731

  1.  Abraço sounds like a place I would love to indulge in.  I adore coffee and strong coffee at that.  The way it smells, the way it tastes and the way it feels in my soul.  Of course, I have been a lil too zestful when I drink too much of it obviously.  There are often times I get tantalized by the rich aroma and the wonderful way it can be such a jolt for me in the morning when I have had lil sleep.  I look forward to trying all of the above one day soon! Thank you all the wonderful tips and hints.  

  2. I haven’t enjoyed coffee in years but this post makes me want to return to java! LOL I’ll have to visit at least one of them when I’m next in NYC. Thank you, Tracey, for this post and all of your delicious suggestions regarding food and fun in the City. You can be my guide any time!

  3. I love it Tracey! As always, your writing entices and makes me want what you are describing! I especially want an Amy Sedaris sighting. 😉 Her “Jerri Blank” character is one of my all-time faves. When I’m in NYC next I will have to come back to this post so I know just where to go for my java fix!

  4. Tracey, I can SMELL the coffee via your descriptive reviews (ahhhhh…) — felt like I was tagging along with you!  Thanks for the “latte art” photo, too — thus proving that coffee is SO much more than just a beverage.  Loved this!

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