19 Best Coffee Shops in NYC the Locals Love

To be honest, I fell in love with café culture in Australia: living in Melbourne showed me just how good coffee can be, and how seriously excellent baristas take their craft.

To my extreme pleasure, there’s been an influx of Australian-run coffee shops in NYC in the last few years.

And nationalities aside, it’s encouraged all cafes to up their game in coffee, food, and ambiance.

people walking inside Bluestone Lane NYC
Bluestone Lane – Manhattan

Although you can find a Starbucks on almost any corner in Manhattan—luckily, still less frequent in most of Brooklyn—skip the chains and tuck into one of the NYC coffee shops that the locals love to frequent!

Below are my 16 best coffee shops in NYC for when I need an early-morning caffeine jolt, a sunny window seat to read a book, a spot to catch up with a friend, or simply a place with a killer playlist and decent wifi.

Although the vibe and offerings differ at each, one thing is guaranteed: excellent coffee, made by baristas who know what they’re doing.

1. Two Hands – Little Italy

magazine latte and avo toast on table at Two Hands

Named after Heath Ledger’s break-out film, this NoLita café is owned by a couple of Sydneysiders.

I think they do the best avocado toast in the city, and you can indulge Aussie peculiarities like a Tim-Tam Slam or a perfectly spread layer of Vegemite on your toast here.

Two Hands also functions as an art gallery, with rotating prints on the walls and regular private opening parties. It’s one of the coolest and best cafes in NYC.

2. La Colombe – Tribeca, SoH0, Wall Street, N0H0

latte La Colombe

There are two things that I love most about La Colombe.

In the summer, they have lattes and iced coffee on draft—they’ll combine both to do a coffee version of a Black and Tan, which is to die for.

And in the winter—aka cappuccino season!—the selection of colorfully designed porcelain mugs and plates always brightens my morning coffee and croissant.

3. In Common NYC Cafe


This Coffee shop near the Javitz Center and new Hudson Yards area is my favorite cafe in New York.

In Common NYC Cafe was my morning coffee stop on my way to the IMM conference in NYC and it was the first place I took Craig and the girls when they joined me a few days’ later.

They balance out proper Aussie coffee with soul food you’ll find on most menus on the beach cafes in Australia. Their breakfast and lunch menu takes the simple, yet delicious, approach with locally sourced and seasonal produce. I can highly recommend the Avocado toast, shakshuka sourdough, and a granola bowl so big it’s hard to finish, but so tasty you keep trying.

Australian owner, Tass is the kind of guy you want to meet in your local coffee shop: attentive, friendly, and front of shop.

I certainly had a lot in common with this NYC cafe.

4. City of Saints – Manhattan & Bushwick

woman holding ice latter at City of Saints -

Bushwick is known for its colorful murals and wide array of street art, and the City of Saints coffee shop embraces the neighborhood vibes.

The recently-opened cavernous space features plenty of skylights and a lively graffiti wall mural.

5. Devocion – Brooklyn

Devocion coffee shop - one of the best coffee shops in NYC that the locals love!
Credit: Jillian Wishart

One of the newer additions to the Williamsburg coffee scene, the Devocion’s understated black exterior gives no hints to the sunny oasis that lies within.

A vertical green garden covers the back wall and an enormous skylight lets in enough sun to require daffodil-yellow umbrellas over the tables in the afternoon.

Grab a coffee, a newspaper and a croissant and while away the day in the sunshine.

6. Ost Cafe – East Village

hot and cold latte on table
Credit – Ost Cafe

The chipped tilework is a favorite of #ihavethisthingwithfloors fans, and the overall atmosphere in this East Village café is cozy, welcoming and imperfect.

There’s a regular stream of regulars who come through for a takeaway coffee in the morning, and their interaction with the baristas is great for people-watching.

7. Oslo – Brooklyn

black coffee typewriter and paper on table

This Scandinavian coffee shop in NYC has two locations in Williamsburg: the one on Bedford Avenue is perfect to grab and go, but I prefer the spot on Roebling Street.

There isn’t any wifi, but there’s always a New York Times on the communal table and usually a group of Brooklyn old timers hashing about the good old days.

Bonus: the day’s horoscope is always posted on the espresso machine so that you have something fun to read while you wait!

8. Happy Bones – SoHo

two lattes on table

This Kiwi-owned joint in SoHo is a long-standing favorite.

Happy Bones exploded in Instagram fame by featuring adorable leopard print espresso spoons: too popular in fact, in that people stole all the spoons.

They used to sell them, and I actually bought a set of four—and I’m so glad I did get a souvenir from one of the best coffee shops in NYC.

Photo-staging opportunities aside, the coffee is good and the baristas are always friendly. 

9. Sweatshop – Brooklyn

Sweatshop Cafe - one of the best coffee shops in NYC that the locals love!

Sweatshop is a compact, but thoughtfully-laid-out café is the front for the design studio that operates out of the back, at this laid-back spot, Australian designers double as baristas.

The coffee is top-notch, and the Vegemite-and-cheese toastie is a boon for homesick Aussies.

And there are just too many photogenic design elements to mention! 

10. Intelligentsia – Chelsea

colored coffee cup on table with macarons on top
Credit – Intelligentsia

Tucked into the High Line Hotel in Chelsea, the Intelligentsia coffee shop in NYC is open to the public as well as guests.

During the summer, it has a pop-up truck in the courtyard strung with fairy lights so that you can enjoy your coffee en plein air.

And when the weather won’t cooperate, the permanent spot inside the lobby has old-world design touches and excellent LA-roasted coffee.

11. Stonefruit Espresso – Brooklyn

coffee and food on a table

A hipster anomaly in gritty Bed-Stuy (although perhaps a harbinger of the gentrification that’s sure to come, for better or worse), Stonefruit Espresso is a sun-soaked gem.

My personal favorite element is the travel nook in the back, with a giant globe and a book exchange—although a close second is the upstate apple cider available hot or cold in the fall.

12. Toby’s Estate – Manhattan, West Village, Brooklyn

granola coffee tablet on table

Originally from Australia, the first Toby’s Estate opened in Williamsburg a few years back.

Its popularity exploded among hipsters and trendy tourists as the neighborhood became more popular, encouraging new locations in Flatiron and West Village.

Although Williamsburg is the largest and offers barista classes and regular coffee tastings, my favorite is on Charles Street.

Nestled among the shady, brownstone-lined streets, the window seats offer prime stylish people watching—and the avocado toast and granola bowls are the perfect start to the day.

13. Blue Bottle – All over NYC

Blue Bottle Cafe - one of the best coffee shops in NYC that the locals love!

A San Francisco institution, Blue Bottle expanded to the East Coast so you can get their coffee in NYC with locations now all over NYC.

Known for their sugary-sweet New Orleans iced coffee and excellent pour-over options, Blue Bottle is the purist’s choice for the baristas’ encyclopedic coffee knowledge.

EDITOR: As of Jan 2023, Blue Bottle Coffee is many locations. The only issue we had is their spaces are usually very small – so more a grab and go establishment – and coffees on the pricey side. If you want to sit and relax you might want to choose another New York coffee spot.

14. Blind Barber – 10th Street NY & Brooklyn

Blind Barber Cafe - one of the best coffee shops in NYC that the locals love!

A neighborhood staple, Blind Barber functions as a trendy barber shop all-day, and a place to grab a coffee in the morning and a beer with friends in the evening.

Although the sunny tables a favorite for digital nomads during the week, the enforced no-laptops-on-the-weekends rule encourages a convivial brunch vibe.

One of the more unique coffee shops in NYC.

15. Birch Coffee – Manhattan

Birch Cafe - one of the best coffee shops in NYC that the locals love!

I’m a sucker for loyalty cards, book exchanges, and trivia—and Birch offers all of that and more.

I especially love the “trivia tip jar”: every day, a question is written on a chalkboard with two possible answers—and you can put your tip in what answer you think is correct.

With a few locations scattered around Manhattan, I love the neighborhood feel on Sixth Avenue and 14th Street: the few high tables are usually full.


16. Bluestone Lane – various locations

Australians take their coffee seriously as consumers and barristers, and the Australian owned Bluestone Lane is influenced from the renowned coffee culture hub of Melbourne Australia, where premium coffee is a way of life.

So, if you’re craving a great flat white, espresso, latte, golden spice latte, or maybe even some vegemite on toast, a lamington or smashed avo on toast, pop on in for one of the best coffee shops NYC.

Locations in; Bryant Park, Times Square, Financial District, Garment District, Midtown East, Astor Place, and Dumbo (Brooklyn).

Bluestone Lane is our most visited cafe not just in New York City, but in the USA. We always pop in as we know we’re going to get GOOD! We’ve visited their locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

17. Culture Espresso

man holding Culture Espresso cup

Independent and privately owned, Culture Espresso make seriously good coffee paired with an assortment of baked goods. They are famously known for the chocolate chip cookies.

It’s a tiny coffee shop, but a real local’s cafe in the heart in several locations and some of the best coffee in NYC.

Culture Espresso’s coffee is slightly more expensive than the other cafes we visited. $6 for a normal milk 12-ounce latte. Ouch!

18. Ariston Flowers & Cafe, Union Square

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful flower shop as soon as you walk in the door.

Beyond the aromatic bouquets is a quaint and colorful cafe with students tapping away at computers and discussing school notes, a cabinet full of pastries and tasties, and delicious coffee. And there is a large upstairs and downstairs seating area to give you time to rest on a busy day exploring the city.

Pick up a bouquet on the way you. They stock fresh flowers directly imported from France, Holland, Hawaii and from other parts of the world.

Ariston Flowers and Cafe is located near Union Square and Greenwich Village. We stopped here for a rest before joining our excellent cupcake walking tour of Greenwich Village (one of our favorite things to do in NYC with kids).

19. Cafe Grumpy, Various Locations

latte on table
No grumps with this coffee

One sip of this artisanal brewed coffee and your grumpies will melt away. Even better is that their coffee is sustainably sourced and roasted in-house and their seasonal coffee and espresso menu pairs perfectly with their locally sourced pastries.

Cafe Grumpy first opened in Brooklyn in 20025 and has since expanded across the New York City and its boroughs.

We tried the location near Bryant Park. They also have a small to go counter in the bottom of Rockefeller Center. Handy if you are visiting Top of the Rock.

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