3 Unique NYC Cafes to Kick Your Starbucks Addiction

The beginning of fall is only 12-days away, which means no more coffee dates in Bryant Park. Since the hustle and bustle of New York City stops for no one, and New Yorkers are known for their IDGAFattitude and signature to-go coffee cups in hand. But if you’re looking for a space to meet a friend, enjoy a perfectly crafted espresso drink, or simply avoid hay fever, you’re in luck. This city boasts more options than you could possibly imagine, from in-house roasts to deconstructed lattes and cappuccinos as rich in foamy milk as they are in NYC history. Next time you need somewhere to escape the pollen, or maybe somewhere to have a less traditional NYC cafe experience, give one of these three local gems a try.

1. The Freehold

Full disclosure: the crème de la crème of Brooklyn writers’ favorite hangouts The Freehold in Williamsburg is so much more than a cafe. According to their website, it’s a hub to meet, to work, and to play. It’s the perfect mashup of a cafe and a workspace by day, and a bar, a venue and a private event space by night. According to one of its co-founders, it’s “a hotel lobby hangout (without the hotel rooms),” complete with a concierge desk.

Instagram (@TheFreehold)

Visit during the day and expect quite the midday Williamsburg crowd, but the Freehold boasts multiple rooms and floors for lounging, working, or relaxing with your preferred cup of java on one of their many couches, cozy chairs or private rooms for group work. Enjoy any of your favorite coffee or tea beverages, or one of their signature house drinks (like the Ginger Snap: a mix of espresso, honey, chocolate, ginger and steamed oat milk.)

Instagram (@TheFreehold)

Stay past Happy Hour and you can hit their game room (complete with ping pong and ski ball), get some fresh air in the courtyard, catch a comedy show in the lobby, or listen to some live music. The outdoor space is packed all summer and is totally instagrammable for you if you like to keep a pretty IG feed. In short: this NYC cafe has it all.

2. Caffe Reggio

 Caffe Reggio, 1959 (via Instagram: @nyc.thenandnow)

If you’re a die-hard fan of the cappuccino (or even if you’re not), visiting Greenwich Village’s oldest cafe Caffe Reggio is a must. You may have even caught a look at it in the background while watching The Godfather for the 100th time. (Again, no judgment). Caffe Reggio has been open since 1927, and has since become a staple of NYC coffee-addicts and history buffs everywhere. The cafe’s original owner, Domenico Parisi, claims to have served the first Italian cappuccino in the United States nearly a century ago. The cafe’s original 1902 espresso machine is actually still on display at this antique-ridden, quaint coffeehouse.

Caffe Reggio, 2018 via @therealatz

Sit outside for a coffee at one of the establishment’s small tables or beautifully carved wooden benches, and take in the sights (both the occasional celebrity spotting and the Italian Renaissance-era Caravaggio paintings that adorn the shop). If you want more than coffee, Caffe Reggio also serves crepes, omelets, pasta and Italian favorites like crisp, rich chocolate-chip studded cannolis.

3. Coffee Project

Source: @coffeeprojectny

The Coffee Project is an East Village coffee shop that’s anything but ordinary. Notably, it’s taking a beloved classic the latte and turning it on its head. More accurately, it’s taking it apart. The Coffee Project is best known for bringing the deconstructed latte to the Village, but also specializes in out-of-the-box favorites like nitrogen-infused coffee (Out of a keg. That’s both creamy and topped with foam. Without utilizing any milk. Really.). The Project One (pictured above) comes particularly highly recommended. You get a shot of espresso, a shot of steamed milk, a glass of sparkling water, and a cookie. The rest is up to you. #DIY. 

*The Coffee Project is laptop friendly weekend and corporate holidays only.