20 of the Best Independent Coffee Shops in New York


New Yorkers love their coffee, consuming as much as 6.7 times as much than the rest of the country.

This means that the city is home to an overwhelming amount of great coffee shops, not to mention the bakeries and doughnut shops too!

We’ve picked out 20 of the best, no matter whether you’re after a nice winter warmer or a cooling iced drink.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

This artisan coffee company may well be based on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon, but it also has two shops in New York City too.

They mainly serve up espresso-based drinks, as well as French-press and cold-brew beverages and are known for making one of the best cappuccinos in the city.

They also have a range of pastries supplied by the Breslin, the Doughnut Plant, Ovenly, Lafayette and Milk Bar.

Box Kite Coffee

With two locations in the city, Box Kite Coffee has a menu which changes seasonally with blends using locally sourced ingredients from independent roasters from around the country, such as Madcap and Ritual.

A popular item on the menu is the ‘one and one’, which is a shot of espresso, milky macchiato and a small glass of sparkling water.

Café Grumpy

Café Grumpy is owned by a husband and wife pairing, with an extensive and ever-changing coffee menu to choose from, featuring beans from locations as far flung as Burundi and Rwanda, but roasted right next door.

As for the pastries on offer, they come from local bakeries such as Blue Sky and Balthazar.

Hi-Collar

This Japanese-influence coffee shop only seats 11 customers at a time, but if you’re lucky enough to get in, you’ll be treated to siphon brews and a ‘kissaten’ menu featuring Japanese dishes such as omurice and katsu sandwiches.

There’s always a lot of choice on offer at Hi-Collar, with a range of both types of beans and brewing methods to choose from.

Later on, it turns into a sake bar, with various beers from the Far East available, such as Yona Yona and Echigo Koshihikari.

Joe

While it’s debatable if a coffee shop with eleven shops around the city can really be considered ‘independent’ anymore, Joe still has a boutique feel and sticks to a four-point buying philosophy of ‘fair and traceable’, ‘quality’ ‘flexibility’ and ‘sustainable relationships’.

As well as the espresso menu, they also have a single cup, drip coffee bar with a rotating menu.

Abraço

Abraço (which is Portuguese for ‘hug’, how adorable!) has a real international flavour, with influences from Spain, Italy and the Middle East.

It’s only a small shop, but it quickly established itself as one of the best in the city through the quality of its food and drink menus.

As well as drinks made from Counter Culture beans, they offer eclectic snacks such as pain perdu and olive oil cake.

The Roost

This East Village coffee shop has a beautiful interior and is fitted out with subway tiling, plush leather chairs and a magnificent (albeit fake) fireplace.

But its real secret weapon is the speakeasy which lies in the back, hidden by sliding barn doors!

Everyman Espresso

Run by Sam Penix, Everyman Espresso is an industrial coffee shop in the East Village, with an emphasis on sourcing the very best ingredients.

In particular, they use Counter Culture coffee, Battenkill Valley Creamery milk, and offer everything from espresso to pour-overs to AeroPress drinks.

Ninth Street Espresso

With five locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn, Ninth Street is still just about small enough to be considered independent, with artisanal espresso beverages available and pastries from the Balthazar Bakery.

Their menu is beautifully simplistic, consisting of just ‘hot coffee’, ‘cold coffee’, ‘espresso’ and ‘espresso with milk’.

Toby’s Estate

Originating in Australia, Toby’s now has five small New York stores, with a cool vintage aesthetic, featuring a matte white La Marzocco Strada machine, pressed-tin ceilings and antique mirror tiles.

They also sell fresh, handmade sandwiches and pastries from the local bakeries.

El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette

For an East Coast coffee shop with a West Coast feel, get yourself to El Rey. There’s a chilled out vibe, and El Rey could almost pass for a cocktail bar with its stylish interior, although with stools only, it’s not the sort of place to spend a couple of hours.

The Mexican iced mocha comes particularly highly recommended, with black coffee mixed in with sweetened condensed milk, Mexican chocolate and fresh mint, finished off with chilli flakes and cinnamon.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Starting out in Chicago in the nineties, Intelligentsia is one of the most respected names in the coffee world, serving up seasonal Direct Trade coffees brewed in a variety of methods at their two New York shops.

If you’re staying in with your drink, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful glassware, but if you’re getting it to go, you’re right on the elevated High Line park, so it’s a win-win!

Little Collins

Named after a street in Melbourne, Little Collins has a strong Aussie influence, with food options such as avocado smash with sunflower seeds and poached eggs smothered in bacon ragout to accompany your cup of joe for the modular ‘ModBar’.

Culture Espresso

The guys at Culture Espresso serve up a range of espresso-based drinks from their two stores, a couple of blocks away from each other in Midtown.

They also serve up a breakfast and lunch menu featuring items such as house-made muesli and a truffled egg salad sandwich.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle first made its name on the West Coast, in San Francisco, but now has a number of stores open across the NYC area.

A particularly popular choice is their chicory-fortified, New Orleans-style iced coffee.

Third Rail Coffee

With branches in both the Greenwich and East Villages, Third Rail specialises in dark-roasted beans, all roasted by Counter Culture, and usually single-origin.

Their baked goods menu features such tasty treats as Blue Sky muffins, Ovenly scones and Outlaw Granola bars.

Birch Coffee

Roasted locally in Long Island City, the coffee from Birch covers everything from bright light roasts to chocolatey dark beans and everything in between.

It gets extremely busy with people from the nearby office spaces, so you may find yourself disappointed, but if you get a seat, you’ll be rewarded with relaxed vibes and some of the best coffee in the city (with the Kyoto drip being a particular highlight).

One of the most popular brews is the smooth Filtron cold brew, but the real attraction here is the extensive library, which is great for those who liked to stick their nose in a book with their cup of joe.

Southside Coffee

This cosy Greenwood coffee shop has a regular line-up of Alchemy espresso and single-origin brew coffees from George Howell Coffee, but also recently benefitted from bringing on new business partner Josh Sobel.

The chef and sandwich lover has brought on board with him a great new menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches including the ‘New School’, made with bacon, eggs, kale and a splash of hot sauce!

The Queens Kickshaw

Over in Astoria, the Queens Kickshaw serves up more than just great coffee, with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, as well as beers and wines.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking they don’t take their coffee seriously though, with an espresso menu, four different pour overs and growlers of cold brew too.

Sweetleaf

Sweetleaf now has branches in Long Island City and Williamsburg, with two special iced coffee drinks standing out alongside the quality espresso menu.

Rocket Fuel is a cold brew spiked with chicory, maple syrup and milk, while the Voodoo Child is a Vietnamese influenced drink with sweetened condensed milk.

Sweetleaf also has a cool ‘record room’, with a turntable and extensive vinyl collection!