In Manhattan’s West Village, the coffee shops are a nod to the neighborhood’s rich history. It’s the birthplace of America’s first cappuccino and the home of a 19th-century tea and coffee shop. Global influences—drinks here hail from as far as Australia and as close as New Jersey—keep the area trendy today. Here are the best cafés in the West Village.
Bakery, Italian, $$$
Since 1974, the family-owned-and-operated Pasticceria Rocco has been a staple of the West Village café scene. Visitors here won’t find any donuts or drip coffee, however, as Rocco is known for its fresh hand-filled cannoli (classic flavors including plain and chocolate shine brightest), espresso drinks, and specialty Italian pastries, such as sfoglitelle and pasticiotti ricotta.
Bluestone Lane takes café-goers Down Under with a menu featuring Australian eats, including avocado smash on Balthazar toast and bacon and egg brioche rolls. A bright, open space complete with al fresco seating plus quality coffee drinks, such as flat whites and Aussie Iced Lattes (a double shot of espresso over whole milk and ice cream), complete the experience.
The West Village flagship of Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee is one of eight New York City locations. As “New York City’s first 100% organic coffee shop and vegan bakery,” the local business, which started in 2003, hasn’t let its growth alter its commitment to “the crop-to-cup movement.” Coffee drinkers can join the movement when they order a Stir Brew, a fan-favorite mocha, or any of Jack’s plant-based pastries.
For New Yorkers who live local, there’s Grounded, a “community-based coffee & tea house” situated in the West Village. Here, small-batch organic coffee comes from New Jersey, where it’s roasted each week, while organic loose teas are blended by Greenwich Village’s own Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company. For more substantial snacking, Grounded offers bagels from Murray’s Bagels and cookies from Long Island City’s This Chick Bakes.
The experience at Roasting Plant is unlike any other. At this West Village and Lower East Side café, patrons select their beans, which are roasted on-site, before watching them be ground and brewed in individual tubes before their eyes. For curious caffeine fans, the Plant also provides information on its coffees’ certification, processing, and more.
Caffe Reggio served the very first cappuccino in the US
Caffe Reggio’s iconic green awning greets patrons looking to experience a Greenwich Village institution. This Italian café, the area’s oldest at 91 years old, is famous for introducing the cappuccino to the United States. Today, the spot offers timeless décor, including artwork dating to the Italian Renaissance, a European-inspired menu, and, of course, a mean cappuccino.
Technically, the photogenic Ancolie isn’t a café but a self-described “epicurean cantine.” Café clientele, however, can’t get enough of the spot’s granola parfaits with local yogurt, daily made soups, and chocolate cake baked from a family recipe. Like these dishes, drinks, including Americanos and a selection of teas, are served in reusable glass jars.
Coffee purists will appreciate this café’s sensibility, which comes through in its tightly curated menu and industrial design. Third Rail Coffee specializes in traditional espresso drinks (made with roasts from Counter Culture Coffee) such as cappuccinos and lattes, all of which are enjoyed in an understated setting complete with exposed brick and photographs on the walls.
Patrons will smell McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co. before they see it. Since 1895, this West Village pillar has been America’s premier purveyor of rare teas and fine coffees, including products from the Caribbean, Arabia, and beyond. Any tea and coffee lover in New York City will be delighted by this store’s selection as well as its to-go drinks bar.
Part specialty coffee shop and part general store, THE ELK is completely unique. Despite its Northwestern influences, the café’s menu (breakfast sandwiches with ham, cheese, and a cage-free local egg, tuna melts, and quality espresso drinks) and products (high-tech coffee gadgets) scream New York City.