Flat Whites and Flowers: New York’s Coffee Hybrids

Thu, 19 February 2015
Rough Trade New York coffeeRough Trade

It seems people just aren’t satisfied with the good old-fashioned coffee shop anymore. They need their caffeine fix to come with the promise of a new surfboard, an updated record collection, even a beard trim. Or is that just the case with New Yorkers? All over the city we’ve noticed coffee houses diversifying to satisfy the whims of music enthusiasts, cooks, cyclists and singers. The caffeine invasion that was first heralded in Brooklyn has quickly spread throughout New York, making it possibly the easiest place in the world to pick up that much-needed cortado. Coffee has conquered so successfully that the obsession has bled over into other, just as stylish markets. Walking up and down the East Village, Soho, Noho and Brooklyn, you can be sure to run into a coffee shop-cum-something or other in no time. And we’re loving it. Here is our selection of the best places in New York to get coffee and then some…

LOST WEEKEND NYC Obviously, we’re no surfers. Memories of flipping violently from a board on a 2001 trip to Sydney and being stung on the face by a jellyfish has put a stop to this sport for us. However, stepping into Lost Weekend is the closest we’ve come to jumping back on the board-wagon again. As light and breezy as a Bondi shoreline, this surf wear/surfboard/surf literature retail store has everything you could need to restart that wavy love affair, even on a cold February day in inner-city New York. In fact, when we went in and chatted to barista and world-renowned beard Adam Santos-Coy, he told us the owner had been on the waves only the day before (this was just a day after a giant snow storm…the commitment!) Aside from the incredibly cool surfing wares on offer in the shop, Lost Weekend has a refreshingly relaxed café in its wake too. Santos-Coy, who trained at Bluestone Lane, told us he thinks the coffee scene in New York has become a little pretentious of late. “I want to help make coffee less intimidating,” he told us, pouring frothy milk into a cup behind that gigantic beard. ADDRESS: 45 Orchard St, New York, +1 917-261-2401

THE BLIND BARBER Speaking of beards, this barbershop-slash-coffee shop nestled between Williamsburg and Greenpoint does a good job of exhibiting all of Brooklyn’s best facial hair under one roof. Admittedly, there are no actual hair trimmings going on inside the café, but the door to the attached barbershop is often left open for your viewing pleasure. The coffee in here is among the best we’ve had in New York; the baristas are so good they can make the simplest of cups noticeably more delicious. With that in mind, try their ice Americano or a latte, and enjoy the nutty-sweetness amid the nu-70s interior and a wealth of be-hatted locals. If you find yourself lured in by the candles past 5pm, you can also choose from one of their draft beers or bottles of wine. ADDRESS: 39 E 10th St, New York, +1 212-228-2123

HOMECOMING What could be more delightful or more Brooklyn than Homecoming, the café that offers visitors a chance to re-caffeinate while perusing a rainbow of flora and fauna all at once? Try their dirty chai (chai latte with an espresso shot) and take a look at their handmade pots, candles, bunches of fresh flowers and surprisingly stunning gardening magazines. It’s like the Instagram version of your local Notcutts. ADDRESS: 107 Franklin St, Brooklyn, +1 347-457-5385

ROUGH TRADE The legendary Rough Trade has long been noted as Brooklyn’s go-to destination for music worshippers (real and pretend) across the US since 1976. The intimidatingly large space houses every riff, bridge and quartal music history has to offer, with an endless count of vinyls covering every inch of the place. Its in-house coffee stop, the tiny Brompton Café, is as alarmingly cool as you’d expect. Using the bicycle theme to indulge a tinny 80s style, it keeps things local using Toby’s Estate beans (see below). The record epicentre also moonlights as a live music venue, with acts of every stature cajoling audiences through the doors from around the country. ADDRESS: 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, +1 347-896-4012

TOBY’S ESTATE Toby’s Estate coffee is all brewed on-site at their Williamsburg location, in a glass-fronted ‘cupping room’ at the back. From this caffeine den they generate the uniquely sweet, small-batch blend that has built them a huge local fan base around New York. They offer brewing classes for those looking to expand their bean skills, from tutorials on milk texturing to lessons in ‘dosing, tamping, grinder calibration and extraction.’ We’d recommended bringing a paper and pen (and maybe a dictionary). They also hold regular ‘public cuppings’ which, despite sounding like a medieval humiliation ritual, allows coffee enthusiasts to develop their understanding of the perfect brew. ADDRESS: 125 N 6th St, Brooklyn, +1 347-457-6160

MCNALLY JACKSON In a world where paper is becoming increasingly obsolete, it’s lovely to see an independent bookshop crawling with customers eager to read the print copies of their favourite books. A long-loved Soho haunt, McNally Jackson’s bookshelves unfold over two large floors, with a small coffee shop at the entrance, which uses direct trade Strumptown Beans. The walls are patterned with prose and the ceilings covered in lighting fixtures made of books. You can take any book from the shelves into the café, which gives you the perfect excuse to while away the afternoon novel-in-hand, or choose from their huge selection of art and photography magazines. Even more charming is the shop’s ‘Espresso Book Machine,’ where writers can print and bind paperbacks with the guidance of the McNally team. ADDRESS: 52 Prince St, New York, +1 212-274-1160

[wpgmza id=”92″]

Meeting The Fat Radish

Read more

Photos by Issy Croker, Words by Meg Abbott, follow them both on @thecuriouspear

More at thecuriouspear.com

You May Also Like

City Guides

You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.


Curate your bookcase with the full SUITCASE library. From Volume 2 through 27, we've been around the world, explored uncharted landscapes and reexamined travel perceptions along the way. We invite you to do the same; grow your collection today.

Download Suitcase App
Learn More