MR’s Guide to the Best Cup of Coffee

The Writers | January 18, 2016

Whether you’re waking up in Harlem, Soho or Brooklyn

If there’s one thing we talk about at Man Repeller more than clothes, shoes, rabid buffalos, what to order for lunch and various Instagram theories, it’s coffee: what shop has the best latte, what cafe has the best muffins, who has almond milk — the good kind, not the sketchy stuff. Can you blame us, though? Step into our morning work lair and you’ll find almost all of us smiling into the dark abyss of our paper cups, because happiness knows no joy like the first sip of hot coffee on a cold ass day.

Below are our favorite neighborhood spots. Sugar’s to your left, napkins are on your right, tip jar is at the bottom — but instead of cash, leave a comment (tell us your favorite spot!) and possibly a picture of your morning coffee cup.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis

  • Jack's, 138 W 10th St., West Village (For other locations, click here). Order the cafe au lait or a Happy Jack (it's a latte with honey and cinnamon). Stay for the homey, cozy space that's full of regulars. If you can stand the cold outside, try, because Yvonne, MR content strategist and wearer of great sweaters, says the bench out front offers some of the best people watching the West Village has to offer.
  • Porto Rico Importing Co., 636 Grand St., Brooklyn (For other locations, click here). Order the flavored coffee of the day (Elizabeth's favorite is the Double Nut Fudge). Stay for the history: the company has been around since 1907, and the price: less-than-$2 coffee -- unheard of in this city. Become a regular and they'll memorize your order, plus they have almond milk on tap. Bless.
  • Dweebs, 1434 DeKalb Ave., Brooklyn. Order the almond milk cappuccino, stay for the neighborhood coffee shop feel. Not only do they get all of their dairy milk from upstate New York, their coffee is roasted at Landskäpp in Red Hook, so this stuff is as fresh and handmade as you'll find outside of a coffee farm. Krista -- master spaghetti photographer -- gives two bonus points for their affordable sandwiches and a third for their pastries by Dough.
  • Peddler, 300 Lafayette St. (corner of Houston and Lafayette St.), SoHo. Order a classic black coffee, leave because it's not a coffee shop -- it's a one-man-run sidewalk stand. By all means, hang out though. It's a great corner for an office break, and the java, roasted at Lofted Coffee in Brooklyn, is so good you don't need milk.
  • Double Dutch Espresso, 2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem. Order the almond milk cappuccino or the seasonal homemade pumpkin spice latte, stay for the outdoor space. Their pastries come from Balthazar, Colson Patisserie and Ovenly, and their beans are from Counter Culture. Buy a bag while you're there -- great to have at home on those weekend mornings when you can't bear to leave the house. Pro tip straight from our director of social media, Sofia: if you're more in the mood for booze than coffee, you can swing over next door to Mess Hall, their sister bar, for beer, bourbon and small bites.
  • Gasoline Alley, 325 Lafayette St., NoHo. Order the almond milk cappuccino, even though Leandra points out that $5 for coffee with nut milk is straight up robbery when you could make your own almond milk at home. As far she's concerned -- and she's pretty sure this makes her an amateur at best when it comes to what makes a good cup of coffee -- your coffee is only as good as the corresponding milk offering. "I'm way less inclined to order coffee from a shop that doesn't serve almond milk and conversely will walk eight blocks out of my way if/when I find a spot that makes its own," she says. Case in point: The Butcher's Daughter, whose almond milk tastes like almond/date paste and therefore makes you feel like you're drinking a Prozac smoothie, according to Leandrumrollplease. "However, when I'm late to the office and need to grab something quickly, it's always Gasoline Alley. They serve Intelligentsia coffee and their almond milk is pretty sweet. (I mean that literally and also in the way that adjective is used colloquially)."
  • $1 coffee guy on the northeast corner of Broadway and Bleecker. Order a coffee with skim milk, come back for the quintessential old New York routine. This coffee cart serves bagels and breakfast sandwiches with zero frills. The line is short, the service is fast and once the owner gets to know you by name (which Cristina, MR director of $ales and $miles, guarantees he will) you'll never have to remind him of your order again.
  • Bel Ami, 30 E. 68th St., Upper East Side. Order a black coffee with no room, come back because it's one of the only drinks-to-go cafés on Madison for a 10-ish block radius according to our intern and compiler of rainbow photos, Lily. Their coffee is never bitter, always strong, and is served in a cup that matches the baristas' outfits. Nothing like starting the day with a complementary color palette.
  • Sant Ambroeus, 265 Lafayette (For other locations, click here). Order the almond milk latte, stay for the classic bar that makes drinking coffee feel like a decadent mid-day treat as opposed to a morning rush to wake up. The cookies help too. So do Alireza Niroomand's outfits.
  • Toby's Estate, 44 Charles St. (For other locations, click here). Order the Winter Blend, stay for the eclectic music (some days it's disco, some days it's hip hop) and sit for the smoked salmon toast.  So good. The coffee's a little expensive so Amelia saves it as a weekend treat, but it's worth it: dark, strong, not at all bitter. Plus, they have gourmet Pop Tarts. POP TARTS. However, if you want to stay in the same hood but need a quieter setting (and plan on sitting down longer/eating more/leaving your laptop at home) her other go to: The Elk, 128 Charles Street.
  • There are countless Starbucks in Chicago, and most days my morning coffee comes from the coffee machine at the office, or an espresso from home. On mornings where there is more times (mostly on the weekends) my dad makes an espresso with foam. It’s delicious. And far better than any espresso I’ve had to pay for.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Oh my god this looks so pretty and delicious

      • And he has to make the foam by hand! (a process that involves stirring sugar and coffee really really quickly)

        • Stephanie Coyle

          I have scored 177k dollars previous year working online and I am a full time student. I am attached with an online business entity that I heard about and I have earned such great cash. It is really user friendly and I feel myself lucky to have that option. Why not try this.

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        • Amelia Diamond

          wait sorry if this sounds dumb but he just stirs it quickly? like with a whisk or a spoon? a different cup? i’m trying to copy this…

          • haha no, I knew it was a really vague explanation. Basically, he has to whisk the shit out of it with a fork.

            Full explanation: when the percolator (Bialleti kind) first starts brewing the coffee, the first bit of coffee that comes out is poured into a cup (he uses a glass measuring cup) that contains sugar (~ three soup spoon’s worth). He whisks it with a fork (like beating an egg for omelet, I would compare it to). Until it forms a bit of a foam/paste. You do that until the percolator has fully brewed the coffee. Then you pour the rest of the coffee into the cup, stir, and you get this really nice foam at the top. The he distributes it among the tiny espresso cups we have! I should film him doing it one day haha!

          • Sonia Cornett

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          • Sonia Cornett

            very fine post …

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      But this cup wins hands down.

      • haha it makes the coffee drinking process so much more enjoyable, don’t you think! That’s probably what I miss most when I drink coffee to go. The paper cups don’t give that feeling of leisure. But hey, I drink them!

  • Cinamaron

    I left my office job to be a barista again so I feel this. There are so many really good local coffee shops popping up everywhere right now (even in frozen Minneapolis) that coffee possibilities seem endless! And the quality keeps getting better and better. I’ll def check some of these places out when I visit my sister this spring.

    • Amelia Diamond

      do you make yourself really fancy coffees at home?

      • Cinamaron

        I mostly make French presses at home because it is easy and I am lazy! But I’ve gotten kinda fancy equipment wise; I have a gooseneck kettle, burr grinder, scale to weigh coffee, etc. But I feel like as long as you have fresh quality beans you don’t have to get too crazy in order to have a good cup of coffee.

        • Krista Anna Lewis

          The french press is so underated. No one in the office realized there was one hiding under our bar until I came around.

          • It’s relatively quick and fuss free, too! Everyone in my office is all about the pour over or the big pots. I’m really considering bringing my french press to work.

          • Cinamaron

            I agree! It’s fallen out of favor compared to pour over and other methods but I still love it. I wouldn’t mind getting a Chemex too, but I like that you don’t have to use filters with the French press.

          • Amelia Diamond

            I have just not mastered the art yet. I always get grinds in my coffee when I use a French Press

          • Camilla

            You may be using the wrong coffee… Coffee machine coffee is finer so if you use that in a plunger you’ll likely get a mouthful of grinds. Either that or your French Press is really crappy? It should be easier than toast

          • Cinamaron

            Yeah that can be an issue with using a French Press! My two tips for that are to make sure your coffee is really coarse ground, and then when you do the ‘press’ part, first push it down a little and bring it back up again immediately. This will make the grounds cascade to the bottom, so when you do the full press the filter isn’t pressing up against the grounds the whole time. Helps with sediment!

  • maddy

    Stumptown at the Ace or the one in the village- plus they sell momofuku pastries

  • coffee break cafe in Quincy, MA because they have a great selection of decaf flavors and cream cheese flavors.

    • Amelia Diamond

      tell me about these cc flavors

      • pulled straight from the website – Spinach & Artichoke, Garlic & Herb, Chive & Onion, Black Olive & Feta, Veggie, Buffalo Chicken, Cajun Fiesta, Plain.

        (the buff chick is so good)

        • Krista Anna Lewis

          OMG I skimmed this too quickly and thought this was a list of coffee flavors at first.

          • just got a strange craving for buffalo chicken coffee… i think you might have something here…

          • but my other favorite joint, marylous, has a flavor called girl scout cookie and it tastes just like a thin mint!! only downside is the 50 grams of sugar. that’s not me exaggerating there is literally 50 grams of sugar in it.

  • We’re big fans of the coffee and atmosphere at Reunion (Williamsburg)… check it out!

  • Isadora de Andrade

    Irving Farm on 79th street between Broadway and Amsterdam for UWS. Cozy place, amazing coffee,full of hot people. They have almond milk sometimes, but they have this reeeaaally good pumpkin seed milk, totally worth a try.
    Ground Central at 53rd and Lexington is a hang out place that even has a library. Coffee is pretty good and they have really great salads and baked goods.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      YES IRVING FARM! There’s one in Gramercy too that is so so good (also has Pop Tarts for Amelia the Pop Tart lover!)

      • Krista Anna Lewis

        OH FORGOT there’s also one in the LES near babycakes!

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      OMG I used to study there on the weekends!!! Their cookies and grilled cheese are also SO GOOD.

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    Coffee I do not recommend: anything I brew myself at home.

  • You must try Round K in Chinatown for the world’s most perfect latte.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I have never been and I shall go

  • l:ly

    The La Colombe in Andersonville in Chicago is actually in the BEST space. Super open, lots of big windows to people watch out of, pretty wood tables to instagram your cold brew from. Pastry game is a little weak so don’t show up hungry 🙁

  • Abigail Christina

    Ground Support in SoHo, on West Broadway and Spring…It’s a favorite for everyone I work with in the area, their muffins are to die for (PB&J and Parfaits are other favorites) and they OF COURSE make a delicious almond milk latte, as a lactose intolerant I know what it means to find a good non-dairy latte. Plus it’s always nice to support local non-chains (:

    • Amelia Diamond

      omg i love ground support i haven’t been there in ages!!

  • Deborah

    These are excellent suggestions! But Harlem is in Manhattan 🙁

    • Amelia Diamond

      LOWER* manhattan! I should have specified. Your brain gets melty and warped when you live below 14th for too long.

      • Deborah

        Fear not! All our brains melted and re-froze in a different shape this winter. Climate change.

        • Amelia Diamond

          Climate change!

  • Mademoiselle Coconath

    I’m such a Starbucks girl but this is a great post! Makes me wanna try out new coffee places in my area!

    Thanks for sharing!


    Mademoiselle Coconath

  • Greer Clarke

    The Toby’s Estate on 5th near Flatiron (Putnam & Putnam) was the best coffee I’ve had in NYC because it’s Australian duh

    • Amelia Diamond

      Yea and because it’s a p & p AND a club monoco. it’s heaven

      • Yvonne Dunlevie

        AND it’s a Strand bookstore!!!

  • Catalina

    When there’s time my lovely boyfriend will make “Bulletproof” coffee. If you look do some Google detective work for Bulletproof coffee it may sound, well, “cult-y”. BUT – its delicious, super creamy and keeps me on the up and up for a while. Secret ingredients: butter and coconut oil.

    Also, Everyman Espresso is another good NY coffee joint.

  • caro

    Surprised Happy Bones NYC isn’t on here!

  • Lauren

    Sweetleaf ( in Greenpoint has the best americanos imo.

  • olivesgirl

    Grounded Coffee in the West Village (Jane St.) is superb. Their green tea soy latte is divine and their coffee is tasty. Also they sell Murray’s Bagels daily. The whole shop is filled with plants so it feels almost tropical.

  • Simone

    When I worked in SOHO, I spent all my time at Happy Bones on Broome st.
    Coming from Copenhagen, where we have hands down the world’s best brew (hello, Coffee Collective!) I was happy to find delicious coffee in a cozy little coffee shop.

  • Carolina

    Wow- no Cafe Grumpy? You ladies are missing out. Heartbreaker espresso is where it’s at.

  • App of Joe

    App of Joe is coming to NYC on May 15th! Get your coffee, at your favorite local coffee shops for a $1! With over 60 partner independent coffee shops already on board and many to come, we are here to end bad coffee at crazy ridicules prices! Waitlist in now open 🙂