MR’s Guide to the Best Iced Coffee in NYC
Need a break? Grab an ice cube.
Monday mornings can be hard. Especially on the heels of a restless (or is it reckless?) summer weekend, where the sole saving grace moonlights as the pursuit and subsequent location of a satisfying cold brew coffee. Of course, there is a flip side, and in that scenario, the iced coffee is lukewarm and your temper is hotter than Satan’s ass in the Maldives.
Incidentally, the cold brew should not be confused with a plebeian iced coffee. The latter tends to mean hot coffee poured over ice while the former serves as the far superior and more intricate process wherein beans are coarsely ground and soaked in cold or room temperature water for 12-24 hours. The finished product is significantly less acidic and tends to taste vaguely of chocolate, which is perhaps why when that first sip of a cold brew transports itself from plastic cup to human throat by way of tunnel-constructed-by-straw, that overarching sense of not just I can do this but I will do this overcomes the lingering Sunday Scaries and ba da bing, ba da boom, the week has started.
In a city like New York, though, where so many of us are transplants who still spend their mornings trying to find their Spots, the result of trial and error can manifest in different ways. Sometimes, you might find complacency in the coffee served cold at your temporary haven, noting that the hints of smoked or nutty favor aren’t all that bad in spite of the lack of plant-based milk. Other times, though, you might simply lose your temper, having hoped for a libation that would revive you, not discourage you, only to find that when you asked for cold coffee, someone mistook your request for dishwater.
You can thank, or condemn, us later.
Leandra: Lead Vagina
What: Lenny’s New York
Where: Casual Frequenter at 77th Street location on 2nd Avenue and 9th Street location on 6th Avenue.
When: The sweet tooth comes a-knocking, you’re craving — though not entirely in need of — a jolt of caffeine.
Why: The unassuming deli serves what I will call the best hazelnut iced brew in New York City. I like to think its iced coffee — still spectacularly priced under $3 — is the McDonald’s Big Mac equivalent of an artisanal meal. Minus one point for an almond milk deficiency — but there is soy milk, and lots of it.
What: My Apartment (as in, where I live)
Where: On the Bowery
When: I’m up early to finish a story, up late to finish a story, at home…presumably to finish a story
Why: Because I stock a New Orleans cold brew called Brooklyn Diamond Coffee which, with its pungently nutty flavor and its even more effusive caffeine content, tastes like dessert, particularly when paired with Almond Breeze’s unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Add chia seeds if you, like Christopher Columbus, are an explorer with places to go and little time to think about depleting energy levels.
Amelia: Editoral Director, Pant Pooper
Where: 49 Grove Street
When: Saturday treat-yo-self
Why: For the cinnamon almond milk iced latte, which is the best date ever to accompany you in a hungover stoop-sitting session. Note: it’s pretty sweet, so you have to be in the mood and prepared to cut it with something salty, like their whole wheat croissant.
What: Sant Ambroeus Soho
Where: 265 Lafayette
When: When you have time to chat
Why: The best iced latte I have ever had. Plus it’s strong. Plus I feel like I’m in Europe while waiting for it at the bar. Plus Alireza and homemade almond milk.
Charlotte: Photo Editor, Model Dater
What: Blue Bottle
Where: 450 w. 15th St & Williamsburg (there are other locations but these two are “mine”)
When: On your way to work, from work.
Why: Their New Orleans style is cold-brewed for 12 hours with roasted chicory, sweetened with organic sugar, and cut with whole (or non-dairy) milk. Also, their sweets rule.
Where: The ACE Hotel; 20 w. 29th St & Washington Sq; 30 w. 8th St
When: When you’re missing Portland(ia)
Why: The baristas wear tiny vests and sometimes silly hats. Minus one point because they take cash only, plus one, though, because, hello! Portland!
What: La Colombe Soho
Where: 270 Lafayette
When: You’re exhaustred — their cold brew is actually what some might call a “red eye” because it is iced coffee topped with a shot of espresso
Why: They encourage you to use half and half — which is out in a pitcher — and raw sugar, which is in a bowl, and force you to ask whether you’re willing to taint their product with something as vulgar as sKiM mIlK.
Krista: Photo Intern, Purported Nordic Wunderkind
What: Irving Farm
Where: 224 w. 79th St
When: You want to hang out with friends, are not just looking for coffee, kind of hungry, too.
Why: There was once a Game of Thrones joke on their beer menu about winter coming.
What: Gasoline Alley
Where: 325 Lafayette
When: You need to take a walk
Why: They use Intelligentsia beans which are damn goooood.
Emilia: Editorial Intern, 5 Things to Talk About Pioneer
What: Grandaisy Bakery
Where: 250 W Broadway
When: In a hurry
Why: Their tiny to-go window is perfect for when you’re running late in the morning. Wheel your bike up alongside it, or heck, you could even roller blade there. If you have time to go inside though, it always smells great.
What: Cafe Integral at American Two Shot
Where: 135 Grand Street
When: While you shop
Why: A great coffee shop and a fun store merging is the real definition of a power couple. Don’t spill on the clothes.
What: Kaffe 1668
Where: 401 Greenwich street
When: Lunchtime for the variety of vegan salads and raw food entrees, which also come with a FREE COLD BREW. Need I say more?
Why: Freedom, the diverse selection of individually brewed coffee which I will not try to pretend I understand, but is impressive nonetheless and the cozy wood interior, and random fluffy sheep figurines splattered across the space, which make me happy.
What: UR Cup
Where: 293 Mercer street
When: Afternoon pick me up for a cold brew or a 72% dark chocolate latte
Why: The owner is seriously passionate about his product and will explain his craft to you if you, like me, are interested in the difference between sourcing beans from Brazil and Honduras. Also, their coco latte is made by pouring 85% dark chocolate onto dark brown sugar and is an ideal refuge from the summer heat.
Amina: Summer Intern, Re$ident Fact Checker
Where: W 56th and 8th Avenue
When: Before, during, and after long days at my other internship.
Why: Balducci’s iced lattes and iced coffee have frequently been my saving grace. While I am not a coffee connoisseur, I have narrowed this down to three possible explanations –
A. I frequently pair my latté with chocolate chip cookies that taste like butter and angels.
B. The company I work for gives me 10% off the whole restaurant (chaa-CHING).
C. The coffee is actually really good.
* Our UPS Delivery man, Cool Dad Keith, prefers Gatorade to coffee.
But what do we know, right? Tell us, please! About your best iced coffee experience in this great city we call home. Or as the French say, hôme.
Looking for another cold, sweet treat in this muggy city? Check out our smoothie guide! Also, since it’s the season, check out which kind of beach-goer you are. You may want some swimsuits to go with it.