Eat + Drink

From Beans to Brew: A Look at New York City’s Evolving Coffee Culture

New York is the city that never sleeps. While some might say this is due to the city’s residents being driven, determined and hustlers at heart, it might also be because of its coffee-centric populace.

TV’s two most famous New York–based sitcoms — “Friends” and “Seinfeld” both used coffee shops as central meetings places for their caffeine-driven and highly neurotic characters. Coincidence? Probably not.

new york coffee
Coffee and fresh pastries from Ninth Street Espresso. (Photo: Courtesy of Ninth Street Espresso)

However, while a simple cup of drip coffee was once the norm for New Yorkers, the city’s vast coffee options continue to evolve as more people seek out the perfect brew.

Here are some of New York City’s most essential and progressive coffee shops.

D’Amico Coffee Roasters

For a taste of New York coffee history, look no further than D’Amico Coffee Roasters in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Established in 1948 by Italian immigrants, D’Amico was one of the first small-batch, roast-to-order Brooklyn roasters, and ever since, this family-owned café has been the penultimate neighborhood coffee shop.

D’Amico offers a range of coffee options, from a simple cup of one of their five different roasts to classic espresso drinks like a caffé Americano or cappuccino. Plus you’ll get a touch of New York history in every cup.

Alpha Dominche Extraction Lab

new york coffee
Savor the signature, app-controlled brewing technologies. (Photo: Paul Martinka | Courtesy of Alpha Dominche Limited)

For a look into the future of coffee, take a trip to the Alpha Dominche Extraction Lab in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn. Designed to serve the most precisely brewed coffee imaginable, the Extraction Lab also aims to educate its guests by offering a wide and carefully curated selection of coffees and providing insight into their growing, processing, roasting and brewing methods.

Through their signature, app-controlled brewing technologies, like Steam Punk, an immersion-style vacuum brewing system, and Sight, a machine that combines the theater of siphon brewing with the ease of batch brewing, the AD Extraction Lab is truly stepping foot into new coffee terrain, one scientifically brewed cup at a time.

Hi-Collar

With a name signifying “Japan’s flirtation with the West,” Hi-Collar is one of the city’s most enjoyable coffee shops to spend a little extra time at. Why, you ask? As the day progresses, Hi-Collar changes from a café specializing in both hot and cold siphon-brewed coffee to one of the best places in the city at which to enjoy sake. It’s everything you need on a lazy Saturday or Sunday, all under one roof.

Regular Visitors

A perfect example of the modern coffee-meets-shop concept, Regular Visitors in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill offers up a wide range of roasts and blends along with a well-curated selection of goods, which includes an array of handcrafts, design magazines and home accessories. A contemporary “general store” of sorts, Regular Visitors brings together coffee and commerce in a way you never knew you needed but always felt you wanted.

Ninth Street Espresso

new york coffee
Ninth Street Espresso’s cozy outpost at 700 East 9th Street. (Photo: Courtesy of Ninth Street Espresso)

There is quite possibly no more popular recent trend in coffee shop design than heightened minimalism, an element that Ninth Street Espresso certainly embraces. The local chain, which has multiple locations across Manhattan’s uptown, midtown and downtown areas, is small, clean and precise and focuses on impeccable espresso brews rather than trying to light the frappe/latte world on fire.

Walter’s Coffee Roastery

While Bushwick, Brooklyn, has plenty of coffee shops to choose from, Walter’s Coffee Roastery is truly unlike any other. Inspired by AMC’s “BreakingBad,” Walter’s began in Istanbul, one of the world’s great coffee cities, before opening up in Brooklyn to share its laboratory-esque take on coffee with New Yorkers.

The nods to the show are subtle, but the HazMat yellow interior, coffee served in beakers and menu arranged like a periodic table all clearly pay homage to the story of Walter White. Stop by for a cup brewed with their wide range of Ethiopian, Colombian and Nicaraguan roasted beans or enjoy one of their signature Lemonbrews, made with half Japanese cold brew and half homemade lemonade.