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Good coffee in NY???

  • g

Ok, after 3 years I've been unable to find good coffee (liquid or beans) in NY. Charbucks can't be the only option! I've tried Oren's Daily Roast and Guy and Gallard (both not very good, although Oren's was ok).

I'm from SF, and I'm looking for a place like Peet's or Spinelli (if anyone knows of them). I've been mail ordering from Peet's (Spinelli is gone!). Is there anywhere in NYC that roasts their own coffee and knows what they're doing?

Please help!


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  1. c
    caffeine hound

    peet's has a branch in img's cafe, an insurance company @49th between mad & park. they're a mon-fri 9-5 operation. call 411 for img's cafe tel #. if you call by wednesday, you can place an order for beans which will arrive by friday of that week with NO delivery charges. img does not get ALL of peets, just representative beans: french roast, but no italian espresso. whenever i go to boston, i pick up more peets, & have BEGGED them to open a nyc store. they say we're next on "the list" (whatever that means...).

    5 Replies
    1. re: caffeine hound

      There is nothing in NY to compare with Peet's. I buy my beans from Oren's and rarely buy coffee out anymore. To my taste, Oren's is a lot better than Porto Rico, but still far from ideal. I was riding my bike around DUMBO in Brooklyn recently, which is very trendy but at the same time has plenty of warehouse space on offer. It would be ideal, I thought, for a coffee fanatic to establish a roaster, run a small cafe, and sell beans to other coffee houses, etc. This city desperately needs a small, fanatical roaster.
      Has anyone here tried La Colombe Torrefaction in Philadelphia? It's a small roasting house that runs a brilliant cafe near Ritenhouse Sqaure. Their specialty is espresso and its offshoots, so they only do blends. But if you love espresso, this is the best source on the east coast. They will deliver phone orders for a reasonable shipping charge.
      If you visit their Philly cafe, with its huge windows, spare decor, and devilishly good espresso drinks, you will be ruined here in the land of Star$$$$.

      1. re: tom


        As a Philly Chowhound and caffeine addict I am a big devotee of La Colombe. The finest restaurants in New York including Le Bernardin and Daniel serve this Philadelphia coffee, so that has to say something. Mangia Caterers at 40 Wall Street, 16 E. 48th or 50 W. 57th are the only Manhattan retail outlets for La Colombe beans. They are the BEST I have had. I've had Peet's coffee also, but only once or twice as a treat at someone's home that had just brought some back from S.F. so I can't say I grew up drinking it and have extensive comparative experience. However, the La Colombe beans are the best I've had that are readily available to me. I'm hooked!

        Link: http://www.lacolombecoffee.com/

        1. re: Katie Benes

          I also think La Colombe roasts the finest bean that's readily available on the east coast. However, I had very mixed experiences at its cafe near Rittenhouse Square while working nearby. It was probably a 50/50 chance that the brewing lived up to the bean. Nevertheless, those beans are great, I work near a Mangia so I can purchase them, and any brewing problems are my own.

          1. re: opjk

            As is the case anywhere - you get what you pay for. While the full time salaried professionals that work for La Colombe are brilliant and can pull the best cup of espresso I've had in North America, the other 50% of the time you will get a part time barrista working their way through art school or their latest post-adolescent crisis at just over minimum wage. Need I say more?

          2. re: Katie Benes

            As an ex-Philly (now NYC) Chowhound I agree that La Colombe is great. Their Corsica roast is one of the best daily brews that I have had.

            It's a tough call, but I am still partial to Torreo in Philadelphia.

            I can't find anything here in NYC that matches either Torreo or La Colombe. I tried Oren's recently and was not impressed at all. IMO, Porto Rico is the best one can get around here.


      2. well, nothing beats peets. i used to live in sf and i've actually had dreams since moving in which i'm drinking a peets latte and i wake up sad. oh so sad. i mail-ordered beans from peets for a while, but the cost is prohibitive. plus, it's just inconvenient. i now buy all my coffee at porto rico. there are three (i think) shops in downtown manhattan. one is on st. mark's place just east of 2nd ave. there's another on bleeker somewhere. it's pretty good stuff. much better than anything else i've found in the area. still not as good as peets. but give it a try. i'd be interested in someone else's comparison of the two.

        1. For drinking coffee try:
          St. Ambroius (Madison-77/78 Streets) They were recently taken over by Fauchon, so they have good pastries.

          To Buy beans:
          I agree with Porto Rico, I have tried the branch at St. Mark's place and they have a pretty large selection.

          Good luck!

          1. d
            Dan Saltzstein

            for purchase, Porto Rico is my place of choice. A nice selection at pretty good prices (teas too).

            For a cup, I love Simon Sips, a kiosk on the north-east corner of Bryant Park (42nd and 6th Ave.) Not much else that does it for me. Timothy's is ok, but definitely no Peet's. Frankly, I'll take Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks...


            1. This is probably a stupid question, but why do you need it roasted in-house? I recall buying Illy beans somewhere (Porto Rico has the ground stuff)... and their roast is superior, imo, to anything I've had roasted here. Another coffee I really liked, surprisingly enough, is the unbelievably cheap stuff labelled all in Spanish you can get in bodegas. It doesn't last very long (pre-ground, so once you open the bag, you've got a day or three), but as a mathematician that never is a problem for me :-) I really liked the Supremo brand, if I remember correctly.

              I never got beans at Oren's, but I don't like their [liquid] coffee very much. Perhaps it was just the employee I got, but the espresso had no crema at all, and the drip coffee usually tastes burnt to me. Then again, I've had mostly disappointing coffee experiences in New York. Am I being too picky?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sam

                I second the Spanish stuff from the bodega - my favorite is Cafe Bustello (also pre-ground, in a sealed "brick"). I love the flavor - very rich and not bitter or burnt tasting, which is how I find most gourmet coffee. And incredibly cheap.

                1. re: Liana

                  I am on board for both Bustello and Illy -- Bustello got me through college; and Illy is what they brew at Ceci Cela, my favorite place to get a cup. I've never brewed Illy myself though. Usually these days I buy beans from Gourmet Garage.

                  1. re: Jeremy Osner

                    I'm no coffee expert, but I've found the coffee at Once Upon a Tart, near Prince and Sullivan, to be consistently good. It's strong but doesn't have that burnt taste you sometimes get at you-know-where. This place also has wonderful scones and muffins.

              2. m
                Michele Fuchs

                I have always been a fan of Zabar's for coffee. I am a simple "columbian supreme" drinker, but they have lots of varieties and most of them in decaf too!

                They will mix blends for you, grind right there or sell you the whole beans...and a plus (as far as I could tell) is their high traffic/ volume...so your chances of really fresh coffee/beans is also high.

                Their pricing is extremely reason, especially compared to the others mentioned in this thread ( I also find most of the others too strong or not pleasant tasting)...I have it sent to me in LA now that I am here...my mother picks it up when I am running low and ships it overnight (sealed tight).

                I also miss their lobster salad, but that is another topic altogether...

                1. 50% off. I bought some for a friend today.

                  Good opportunity to give their stuff a try. (Unless the news about the Peets outpost makes that moot...) At the least, you'll be able to say 'bean there, done that.'

                  Btw, there's another porto Rico branch in Soho (on Thompson Street I think.)

                  1. I had a good cup at 71 Irving and E. 17th/18th.(near Pete's Tavern) They seem to do a good job with the liquid stuff and I'll second that emotion on Cafe Gitane down in Nolita or whatever they call Little Italy these days. I'm gonna try Celli Celli soon.

                    1. c
                      Chris Armstrong

                      Forget Porto Rico.

                      D'Amico Coffee Roasters (roasted on the premises) is the premier roastery in New York. Their Red Hook blend is excellent, and the house blend isn't too far behind.

                      They are on Court Street, in Carroll Gardens, somewhere between Union Street and Bergen Street (closer to Union). Take the F train.

                      While in the neighborhood, check out the Fall Cafe (on Smith Street), a coffeehouse that best approximates those of the West Coast in atmosphere.

                      In Williamsburg, the new cafe/bakery across the street from the mini mall, at North 5th and Bedford Avenue, near the L train at Bedford, has the best cup of coffee in the neighborhood. I also like Phoebe's, on Graham Avenue, but their drip coffee isn't the best out there. Nice place to hang out though.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chris Armstrong

                        After buying D'Amico's espresso blend for more than 15 years, I have recently started shopping at Ital Coffee Roasters 63rd St. Brooklyn (just around the corner from Royal Crown Bakery) instead. $5/pound, a piece of Italy. Like the people, like the coffee.

                        I also have started buying my coffee ground, rather than in bean form. I was having real problems getting the grind right for my pump espresso machine. Even with a burr grinder. Kept getting my filter clogged up with dust. That problem is solved with the purchase of the ground coffee.

                        I like Bustelo in restaurants in the form of cafe con leche - at home its rotten IMO. Maybe the three day window of freshness theory is right. There is another brand of hispanic style coffee available in our local bodegas that we like a bit better as an emergency fall back - Ill try to remember which one it is.

                        1. re: Chris Armstrong

                          I agree about D'Amico - they're wonderful.

                          Another good option in the same neighborhood is Cafe Pedlar, which opened in the last few months. They brew/sell Stumptown coffee, which is a close second to D'Amico in my book.

                        2. i can't believe noone mentioned them, so i will. try McNULTY'S on christopher st. that's where i usually get my beans and teas. nice selections, great knowledgeable service.

                          1. Anyone who has replied La Colombe is out of there minds. NYC finally has some great coffee to offer. Go forth and wake up:

                            Cafe Grumpy- 224 West 20th Street
                            (between 7th and 8th Ave)
                            New York, NY 10011
                            they have another location in Brooklyn. Be resourceful.

                            Gimme Coffee- 228 Mott St, Manhattan, NY (as well as other locations in Brooklyn and Upstate)

                            9th Street Espresso- 700 East Ninth Street between Aves C and D (another location in the Chelsea Market)

                            Joe- 141 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014

                            ...what are you waiting for

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: dirkdiggler

                              I think Gimme Coffee is the best cup in NYC. These guys clearly know what they're doing.

                              1. re: dirkdiggler

                                I love Grumpy...definitely my favorite coffee.

                                1. re: dirkdiggler

                                  I live in the SF bay area, imho Cafe Grumpy is better then Peets.

                                  The guy at Grumpy told me the best day to get their beans (at the Chelsea branch) are on Thursdays.

                                  1. re: dirkdiggler

                                    Speaking of waking up ... those who mentioned La Colombe previously in this thread did so almost seven years ago :)

                                    In the meantime the places you mentioned have arrived, and La Colombe has opened a shop in Tribeca.

                                    La Colombe Torrefaction
                                    319 Church St, New York, NY 10013

                                    1. re: dirkdiggler

                                      Cafe Grumpy failed to make me a proper Cappuccino
                                      9th Street Espresso sells iced coffee which lacks any flavor of coffee. I complained but they said that's how they make it...oh, but don't worry there's lots of caffeine. So they proudly sell caffeinated water as iced coffee. Avoid.

                                      Both were at their respective Chelsea locations. Both two of the biggest coffee disappointments I've had in New York. I would have died for a Peets (wow, I do miss the Spinelli's days too!) instead.

                                    2. I've been buying my beans at McNulty's on Christopher Street for over 25 years. It's a real family operation. For liquid I like Joe's -- one on Waverly, one on 13th just east of Fifth.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sea97horse

                                        NYC has loads of great coffee...dirkdiggler's list is good...add to it the mud truck and mudspot...grounded coffee on Jan st, doma in west village, abraco in east village.

                                        For beans, I like Peets too. And it's incredibly EASY to buy in NYC...go to whole foods...I've been buying my Major Dickasons Blend from WH for the last 2 years!!

                                        Also, Brooklyn has the best roasters in NYC - check out Guerilla coffee in Park Slope...awesome cup and great beans. You can also buy these at Whole Foods too.

                                        Finally, another good NY roaster is Irving Farm located just outside the city on the hudson. They also have 2 coffee shops in NYC in Irving Place and on 7th ave although I have not been to either so can;t comment.

                                        NYC is a great town for coffee, c'mon!!

                                        1. re: Scotty100

                                          Also, everyman's espresso on 13th Used to be a Ninth Street franchise. They sell counterculture coffee, so far as I know. Ninth Street switched to Stumptown Roasters, though, the hairbender blend is the bomb.

                                          1. re: Scotty100

                                            Definitely MUD! Besides the roaming MUD truck, their store is located at 307 East 9th Street, between 1st and 2nd ave. Great organic coffee, and they steam the milk. They also give you a free cup when you buy grounds/beans.

                                        2. Fellow displaced CAer and Petes fan, I've been impressed with some of the roasts over at fairway (harlem branch). Good stuff there :)

                                          1. I know this was just mentioned, but Peet's coffee is sold in Whole Foods, for not much more than you can buy it in CA. While it's not on every corner, it is not impossible to be a regular Peet's drinker in NYC.

                                            1. M Rohr, 86th & 2nd, is my go-to spot for coffee. Great variety, really nice atmosphere. The baked goods aren't on par with coffee though.

                                              1. And I am yet another displaced CA resident, feeling the pain. But Peet's? What about Blue Bottle?
                                                For liquid- Smooch Cafe in Fort Greene, Red Horse Cafe in Park Slope, El Beit in Williamsburg, Abraco in the lower east side (incredibly coffee- Counter Culture beans always in season, each drip brewed to order, etc. etc.), Joe in the village, Gounded in the village, Gimme Coffee in little Italy, Zibetto, Gorilla, and 9th street espresso.
                                                Cafe Grumpy has let me down.

                                                Beans- Porto Rico, D'Amico, Java Joe's, and Gorilla. If you feel like trekking out to Tarrytown, Coffee Labs is worth it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: gwendolynmarie

                                                  According to eater.com, you can find Blue Bottle at Gramercy Tavern now. I could have sworn that I read something a few months ago about Blue Bottle coming to a place in Chelsea. But I must have been mistaken.


                                                2. Oren's is virtually identical to Peet's. I used to work at the latter -- you won't find anything closer to Peet's than Oren's in NYC. Unfortunately, many of the places mentioned (e.g., Porto Rico) will probably disappoint because they don't roast their beans as dark as Peet's does.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                    I like Oren's too...but Guerilla rules in NYC...they need to expand out of park slope.

                                                    1. re: Scotty100

                                                      You can find Gorilla beans at Whole Foods.

                                                  2. Gimme Coffee is tops.
                                                    Joe's would be second.

                                                    Porto's Ethiopean for beans is great. Peets Malawi blend is good too if you can find it.

                                                      1. 9th St. Espresso (9th & Ave. C) carries great coffee from Stump Town Coffee; http://www.stumptowncoffee.com
                                                        My Foodie Blog: http://www.thursdayclubnyc.com

                                                        1. My local coffee shop - Dubspot Cafe on 14th near Hudson - serves La Columbe. They had been selling the coffee (whole bean) for a while but last time I asked they were out. Not sure if they aren't selling it anymore or if they were just out of stock. IMO it's the best I've encountered in NY. I believe it was $13 bucks a pound. A little less expensive than 9th Street and more expensive than Porto Rico but better than both.

                                                          1. Gimme coffe is fantastic. Brought a friend this weekend. He's a San Fran native and coffee fanatic he was very impressed, even brought it up the next day. We went to the newer location on Mott tween prince and spring.

                                                            Never bought Gimme's beans, as they seem quite expensive. I love Porto Rico, the selection is just huge. I've never had Peet's tho so I can't compare.

                                                            If Peet's coffee is so significantly better than Porto Rico it must be pretty incredible.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: 2slices

                                                              Peet's not necessarily "significantly better," just different. The beans aren't roasted as darkly at Porto Rico, which is a matter of taste. Another favorite of mine (Blue Bottle) deliberately uses a very light roast.

                                                              The only sense in which Peet's is objectively better than Porto Rico is in bean storage. I think it's bad form the way PR leaves coffee sitting around in open burlap bags.

                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                Peets isnt any better than Porto Rico or Zabars or Orens. It really is just that displaced California (mostly SF) transplants like to think everything there is better than everything here..I sure hope the original poster has been able to find a decent cup of coffee after what would be nearly 11 years now...

                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                  Depends on the bean. Porto has a lot of lighter roasts.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    jvish, in my experience, the nostalgia of SF transplants is exceeded only by that of NY expats.

                                                                    sugartoof, I agree that Porto has plenty of light roasts, but it doesn't really depend on the bean. Peet's is known for using a darker roast on all of their beans. With the possible exception of Italian or a French, beans at Porto will always be lighter than the comparable blend at Peet's.

                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                      Oh I would agree with that for sure.
                                                                      I thought you were saying Porto was the darker roast.

                                                              2. Try:

                                                                Café Grumpy
                                                                224 W. 20th St. (Seventh Ave.)

                                                                Gimme! Coffee
                                                                495 Lorimer St. (Powers St.), Williamsburg, Brooklyn
                                                                *they opened a place on Mott in Nolita a few months ago, too

                                                                Gorilla Coffee
                                                                97 Fifth Ave. (Park Pl.) Park Slope, Brooklyn

                                                                141 Waverly Pl. (Sixth Ave.)
                                                                *and 3 other locations

                                                                144 Sullivan St. (Prince St.)

                                                                Porto Rico Importing Co.
                                                                201 Bleecker St. (MacDougal)

                                                                964 Lexington Ave. (E. 70th St.)

                                                                And some place I just read about was opened by someone from San Fran or has some relation to SF beans... oh, it's Abraco in the E Vill. Look it up on nymag.com.
                                                                86 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-388-9731

                                                                Happy cupping.

                                                                1. This thread is great, but I am a Seattle CH visiting NYC next month and staying on the UWS (78th between Broadway and Amsterdam). We will have my aunt's apt to ourselves the first few nights and are looking for a good espresso/pastry shop in the neighborhood.

                                                                  We have fond memories of staying in San Fran two years ago and shuffling down to Cafe Trieste every morning so are looking for that kind of place. Or, an Italian type 'bar' would be the ultimate comparison. Our favorite Seattle coffee shops are Vivace, Caffe Vita and Diva Espresso.

                                                                  Any recs? Thanks!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: LFP

                                                                    The places we're talking about are very different then the dark dark roast of Cafe Trieste. Hopefully you'll get some godo suggestions for Italian places with rich espresso, but you might have fun checking out the Hungarian Pastry Shop one day. Grand Daisy has good coffee.

                                                                    1. re: LFP

                                                                      Joe's has a new location on the UWS. Columbus Ave & 84th Street.

                                                                    2. brooklyn label stumptown coffee...yummmmmmmmmy

                                                                      1. Brasil Coffee House, Lexington & 30th. Great, strong Brazilian coffee, and the Brazilian muffins (cassava-coconut) are wonderful too.


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                                          The Brasil Coffee House is my go-to place for iced coffee when I don't make it myself. While I'm not blown away by it, the coffee is very solid and not over-priced. The staff is also really friendly, it's a nice way to start your day.

                                                                        2. Anyone been to the new shmancy coffee shop that has opened at Le Parker Meridian hotel? Supposed to be pricey but top-notch...

                                                                          They are serving Counter Culture product (out of North Carolina). I'd certainly put CC up there with Stumptown, which is served over at 9th Street. I have heard good things about 9th Street, Grumpys and Joes. I am headed to NYC next week and am going to try to hit them all.

                                                                          For mail order, in addition to CC (http://www.counterculturecoffee.com/) I favor Terroir out of Massachusetts (http://www.terroircoffee.com). Excellent lighter roasts.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: MDT

                                                                            re: 9th Street, Their baristas at the Chelsea location are all image no skill in my opinion, but people seem happy with the espresso, so my advice would be to order that.

                                                                            Out of the three you named, Joe's is the best all around. Stick to one of the two W. Village locations. You would probably enjoy a stop at Gimme Coffee too.

                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                              Coffee Plant on Ludlow, always fresh and always good

                                                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                                There's a location of Roasting Plant Coffee Company on Orchard.
                                                                                Is that a different place? It's really small, but they sell fresh roasted beans and green beans. Interesting place. The display reminds me of those candy places in malls but the coffee is pretty darn good.

                                                                          2. Stumptown of Portland is coming.
                                                                            So too Chicago's Intelligentsia.


                                                                            In the mean time, I get my own beans at

                                                                            Sensuous Bean
                                                                            66 W 70th (at Columbus

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: NYChristopher

                                                                              You can buy intelligentsia beans at dean & deluca - picked up a bag last week...

                                                                              1. re: Scotty100

                                                                                I'm pretty sure they have set up a non-retail office in brooklyn for the purposes of eventually establishing themselves on the east coast and eventually opening a shop. i guess in the meantime they're wholesaling beans, and doing consulting/training. there's a lot of excitement around their product lately.

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                  Intelligentsia set up a tasting lab on Broadway, just off Houston Street. They have scheduled tastings there.

                                                                                  1. re: RichardW

                                                                                    OST on Ave A and 12th are using Intelligentsia and selling the beans.
                                                                                    I"m seeing the beans around town more frequently too.

                                                                              2. I live on the upper west side but used to go to Joe's and 9th St Espresso when I worked in the village...now I am not working down there and am desperate for a good cappuccino in my neighborhood...i've tried french roast, le pain quotidien, arte cafe, but none has even come CLOSE to what I found at Joe's. Any suggestions for an obsessed espresso drink lover?!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: eh399

                                                                                  Joe's opened a branch on the UWS recently.

                                                                                  Joe The Art of Coffee

                                                                                  514 Columbus Avenue
                                                                                  at 84th Street

                                                                                2. Gimme is great coffee, but the people who work there really detract from the experience. Mainly at the shop in Nolita. This is great coffee, but it is just coffee, relax dudes!