As we wave a tearful goodbye to forecasts consistently above freezing and address the sobering thought of another blizzard akin to record-breaking Jonas, it’s difficult to squelch that yearning to hunker down in a cozy, dimly-lit coffee shop with a warm, heavenly-scented brew in one hand and a New York Times Bestseller in the other. Rather than falling prey to yet another Netflix binge and an afternoon of “Continue Watching” groans, grab a book from your toppling “To Read” pile and spend an afternoon cozied up in one of these “caffeination stations.”
Ground Central holds the gateway to, for lack of a better comparison, a dimly lit, Sherlock Holmes-esque library enclave. While the front of the coffee shop includes communal table and bar seating, the inviting, den-like atmosphere of the library includes couches and 2-person tables for reading, sipping, and laid-back conversation.
Nestled between the entrance to the Pulaski Bridge and the Vernon St./Jackson Ave. subway stop, Sweetleaf doubles as both a caffeine oasis and a reprieve from the bridge’s bitter wind gusts (if you’ve endured it, truer words have never been spoken). The shop is on the smaller, but cozier side, offering an array of mismatched sofa and wing chair seating options as well as a large, kitchen-style table and a window bar with stools. For even closer, cozier quarters, venture into “The Record Room” just behind the coffee bar for extra seating.
Drink recommendation: The Voodoo Child, Sweetleaf’s take on a Vietnamese style brew.
Pro tip: Keep in mind the shop is cash only.
While Stumptown Coffee Roasters is based in Portland, Oregon, the roasters have gifted us East Coasters two locations in NYC. The cozier of the two is located in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in the Flatiron District. The cafe boasts high ceilings with elegant light fixtures, long communal tables, comfy leather couches, and extra seating extending further into the lobby of the hotel.
Drink Recommendation: Mocha Latte, made with Mast Brother’s chocolate.
During my first few weeks as a NYC resident, I became an avid and devoted visitor to the HousingWorks shops. After a successful afternoon shopping the racks in their Union Square location, a kind gentleman behind the counter spotted a book in my heap and suggested I visit their bookstore and cafe in Soho. I chose to stop by another day and after falling prey to a pile of books and a cappuccino, thank goodness I did. The store itself is filled floor to ceiling with shelves of donated books waiting to be perused and purchased. There are tables scattered throughout the main and upper levels, and a cafe on the main floor that serves coffee and pastries. And as if an afternoon rendezvous with a pile of old and new titles isn’t satisfying enough, all of the cafe and bookstore proceeds go to benefit those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Drink, read, and be merry my friends.
DTUT, also known as “Downtown Uptown,” is considered a neighborhood watering hole (or perhaps a true “caffeination station”) for locals among the Upper East Side. The cafe, which morphs into a bar during the nighttime hours, sports vintages couches, high tables and stools, and frequent live events to support local artists and musicians. While curling up on the couch, consider ordering a pot of Fondue or a S’Mores platter, complete with a mini burner of your own to toast or burn those marshies.
According to Black Cat LES’s website, they aim to be “your public living room.” Between their exposed brick walls, eclectic collection of upholstered armchairs and loveseats, and welcoming staff, you’ll find yourself frequenting the Lower East Side for a healthy dose of home-away-from home. Sing the hangover blues over a Dirty Kitty and a board game with a few pals or stop by on a Sunday for live music.
Drink Recommendation: The Dirty Kitty, a coffee drink made with white and milk chocolate.
Photo by Christopher Michel