Nearly 2 years ago, I took up residence in New York City and promptly started searching for the all best coffee shops.
Lower Manhattan (which is considered anything south of 14th Street) has been a truly awesome place to base myself in NYC. I live in the Lower East Side, which has everything I could possibly want: 24-hour bodegas right around the corner, more restaurants and bars than I can count, and coffee shops galore.
This semi-gentrified part of NYC is also a hub for freelancers, and those of us who don’t have the funds for a co-working space tend to seek out comfortable coffee shops instead. Cafes that feature speedy WiFi and a generous supply of power outlets are usually packed with people who have already claimed a chair and table to spend the best part of their working day.
After extensive quality testing involving the consumption of a large volume of coffee, here are the results for my 8 favourite coffee shops in Manhattan!
1. Spreadhouse Cafe
116 Suffolk Street
It’s no surprise that Spreadhouse Cafe comes up as number one in my list. The seating choices are far superior to nearby cafes; there are individual working tables, a large communal table, comfortable sofas, and two wicker egg chairs hanging from the ceiling.
This spacious cafe is also adorned with trendy patterned rugs, exposed pipework, and unfinished wooden shelving with some succulents perched delicately on top. My only issue with Spreadhouse is that they recently changed their WiFi system to include only 1 hour of free internet use, so you’ll have to use a portable hotspot if you want to stay all afternoon.
182 Allen Street
This Swedish gem is one of the smallest coffee shops on my list, but it still comes in as a favourite as far as bagels, sweet treats, and coffee goes. The drool-worthy muffins that sit beside the counter (which include vegan options) are a constant temptation, and the baristas are guaranteed to make you a fantastic latte.
The atmosphere is also a winner with some soft background music and an exposed brick wall lined with ever-changing pop art. And if you’re a fan of people-watching, you can get a prime viewing position by choosing a seat at the bar along the window.
3. Whynot Coffee
175 Orchard Street
If we’re comparing cafes that cater specifically to freelancers and remote workers, then Whynot coffee would win the competition hands down. Individual tables line the walls, each with an accessible power outlet. Finally, a cafe that understands our addiction to power-draining electronic gadgets.
The retro interior features funky artistic portraits and a vintage-style coffee machine, as well as an old-school record player which churns out tunes to bop along to while you work. Also, did I mention the avocado toast? They serve avocado toast. It is awesome.
4. Joe and the Juice
67 Spring Street
Yes, I know that Joe & The Juice is a chain found in many major cities and airports, but it’s easy to see why this combination coffee and juice joint became so popular. When you walk into the Spring Street location, you’ll find a spacious cafe with upbeat music playing (which sometimes crosses the line of comfortable noise levels) and plenty of seating for people to sit and work.
5. Adventure Cafe
85 Delancey Street
This intimate little cafe only has a few tables to work at, but there is always seating available as not many customers take their coffee to stay. Their regulars are the freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers who frequent the co-working space upstairs and tend to pass through quickly on their way into the office.
My favourite thing about Adventure Cafe, aside from the pleasant care-free personalities of the people who work there, is the fact that the swinging doors are propped wide open in the summer, which lets a pleasant breeze flow through the space.
6. THE BEAN
54 2nd Ave
The Bean features an eclectic collection of mosaics and art pieces which are plastered over nearly every surface. They also play an interesting selection of pop-rock music, which ranges from the 1980s to 2010s and is usually the type that you just can’t help but sing along to in your head.
The large windows lining the street side allow the sun to stream in during the late morning and early afternoon, which of course can be problematic when it comes to reflections on laptop screens, but it’s also nice to get all snug on the pillowed bench with sunlight warming your back. The Bean also has the best food selection, with plenty of sandwiches and pastries available.
7. Irving Farm
88 Orchard Street
Irving Farm has two cafes in Lower Manhattan, but the Lower East Side location is by far the best one. The cafe has plenty of seating spread between street level and the downstairs basement, lots of natural light streaming in through the large windows, and a selection of small bites to take with your coffee.
8. Cocoa Bar
21 Clinton Street
Cocoa Bar may not be as popular as some of the other coffee shops in Lower Manhattan, but it sure is a pleasant place to work when you want to escape the noise and bustle that is New York City. This quiet place is situated on Clinton Street, and has floor to ceiling windows spanning the entire street front.
Cocoa Bar also doubles as a chocolatier if you’d like to add some decadence to your cafe experience, and depending on the barista, they occasionally play calming classical music.
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