There are few neighborhoods more pleasant for a coffee wander than those on the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. There must be something in the proximity of the East River that just brings the magic—wait, scratch that—at least there's something in the community, anyhow. This list comprises a handful of our favorite coffee destinations in the neighborhood, but there are of course piles of other cafes worth peeking into, so head east for a couple of hours and wear your coffee-crawling shoes.
Is there a cuter coffee shop in all of New York City than Abraço? Is there a smaller one? This mini-sized walk-up boîte defies food service logic—smiling baristas functioning in the tiniest 7th Street confines while doling out delicious, handcrafted coffees. Oh, and there's a kitchen smashed in behind them too, whose selection of treats includes an olive shortbread cookie easily in the city's very highest cookie echelons. Pair one with a cortado's perfect espresso-milk balance and enjoy at the sidewalk standing bar, or perched as out of the way you can get in the orange-neon glow of the window while you watch the neighborhood go by. Beans by Counter Culture Coffee.
It's possible upon entering Ost you will feel you've stepped back in time or sideways in space, to a European land of chipped tile and weathered wallpaper, filled with young people stealing a moment for a glass of wine in-between wartorn moments. But then you'll see all the laptops and philosophy undergrad required readables and bumpily teleport back to Manhattan. Ost's comfy cafe charm is backed up by intense, artfully prepared coffees from a variety of roasters—we had a choice of Intelligentsia's Black Cat espresso or Kansas-based PT's Coffee Southpaw blend, the latter of which was sweet and intriguingly citrusy.
Ninth Street Espresso
There is magic here in the original location of Ninth Street Espresso—in the joy of uncovering the spot-on espresso intensity and milk perfection nestled under the shade of two willow-treed corners. And rest easy: for those imbibers just too lazy to walk all the way to 9th Street and Avenue C, the shop's nearest other location is just a scone's throw away at 10th and B. Both serve Intelligentsia-roasted coffees with an occasional severity that makes you just take it all the more seriously. Don't fuss with making a day (or a mealtime) of this trip, but find a space between the tattooed laptop campers to enjoy your coffee time. This place has been through many coffee changes in its position of local seniority—but it never stops being a favorite.
Ninth Street Espresso
It's may not be on your regular footpath, but no happier oasis may exist past the bridge-and-casino-bus chaos of East Broadway than the coffee playground that is Dora. This super-sunny space offers the best of brewing: gorgeous Stumptown single-origin coffees and carefully pulled espressos, as well as an assortment of small foodsnacks and pretty much anything else you might need to complete the day on your own—from penny candy to Chemex carafes. The recent comer to the lower Manhattan coffee game is garnering a tight neighborhood following while building an audience of those who realize that as destinations go, proximity to breezy bridges (oh, and, ah, the Doughtnut Plant) and the F train makes Dora well worth any while.
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