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Caffeine Cluster

On the café-lined streets of the West Village, Starbucks is suddenly the underdog.

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Map by Lauren Simkin Berke  

What do you look for in a coffee shop: office space? Check. Cupcakes? Okay. Delicious coffee and espresso? Well, maybe, if you pick your spots wisely. Navigate the neighborhood’s morass of macchiatos and find out where to plug in, fuel up, andahemuse the facilities.


Photographs by Marcelo Gomes  

1. Mojo Coffee
128 Charles St., nr. Greenwich St. 212-691-6656
Tree-trunk tabletops, Hudson Bay blankets, and a preponderance of Canadian bacon give this off-the-beaten- path coffeehouse the appearance of a North Woods oasis. Relentless lingering discouraged during peak hours, and no laptops on weekends before 2 p.m.
Eat: Breakfast burrito, Canadian-bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, tater tots.
Drink: Private-label Guatemalan-blend drip coffee ($2 for a small cup) or a hot ginger steamer.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: Yes


2. Grounded
28 Jane St., nr. W. 4th St.; 212-647-0943
Revisit your college-era vegan-hippie phase at this comparatively sprawling, lumpy-couched, reggae-thumping, plant-strewn hovel. Don’t get too comfortable: There’s a posted hour-and-a-half seating limit.
Eat: tofu scramble, grilled Amish Cheddar sandwich.
Drink: A $1.60 cup of fairly snappy dark-roast coffee, and yes, the beans are Fair Trade, organic, shade-grown, and even kosher.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: Yes

3. Soy Luck Club
115 Greenwich Ave., at Jane St.; 212-229-9191
A Design Within Reach aesthetic and health-food slant inform this wi-fi wonderland, where laptop users occupy nearly every table (Saarinen and otherwise). Soy milk overshadows caffeine, but coffee drinkers are well served.
Eat: The menu extends beyond vegan cookies and muffins into the realm of surprisingly tasty spelt crêpes and pressed sandwiches.
Drink: Queens-roasted, Fair Trade organic Dallis coffee makes worthy showings in a press pot ($2.50) and espresso-based soy drinks.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: Yes

4. Irving Farm
56 Seventh Ave., nr. 14th St.; 212-475-5200
With only four tiny tables along a banquette, there’s not much space to linger at this 71 Irving spinoff. The selling point is local, as in the line of proprietary blends the company roasts at its Hudson Valley headquarters.
Eat and Drink: The Pie Hole Special gets you a slice of pie and a coffee for $6.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: No

5. Roasting Plant
75 Greenwich Ave., nr. Seventh Ave. S. 212-775-7755
Bright, white, and super-high-tech, this might be the coffee shop of the future. The vibe is slightly sterile, and the white-cushioned seating is limited, but the baristas are incredibly friendly and not allowed to accept tips.
Eat: Cookie-dough shots, Fage-yogurt parfait.
Drink: Coffee beans are roasted on-site, shot through overhead tubes at the touch of a button, and ground and brewed to order. The resulting drip ($2) has a notable freshness and is served in an insulated Bodum cup.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: Yes


6. Doma Café and Gallery
17 Perry St., at Waverly Pl.; 212-929-4339
Packed and bustling at all hours, this Czech-inspired coffee shop is a hangout for the young, the restless, and the heavily roommated, but not necessarily a coffee destination.
Eat: Run-of-the-mill café fare, with esoteric specialties like smoked-bluefish pâté and palacinka (crêpes).
Drink: We can’t recommend the coffee ($1.75), but there is beer and wine.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: Yes


7. Sant Ambroeus
259 W. 4th St., at Perry St.; 212-604-9254
This downtown branch of the Upper East Side original is much more than an espresso bar. Still, the apotheosis of the Sant Ambroeus experience is sipping a moody macchiato while leaning rakishly against the marble counter.
Eat: Cornetti, egg-and-tuna tramezzini, prosciutto-and-mozzarella foccaccine.
Drink: Any espresso drink ($3 to $5.50): This is one of the few places that pull a well-balanced shot with a nice layer of crema.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: Yes

8. Birdbath
145 Seventh Ave. S., at Charles St. 646-722-6570
Built from ecofriendly materials, this City Bakery spawn advocates the green lifestyle with its repurposed furniture, used books for sale, and compostable coffee cups. Utilitarian seating is limited to window benches, a couple of stools, and a shipping-crate coffee table.
Eat: Banana-sesame-agave cakes and vegan raspberry muffins.
Drink: Virtuously organic drip coffee ($1.50) from Irving Farm with Ronnybrook Farm Dairy milk (no espresso machine).
Wireless: No
Bathroom: No

9. Batch
150B W. 10th St., nr. Waverly Pl. 212-929-0250
Pichet Ong’s fuchsia-walled, chandelier-bedecked bakery lends an Asian accent to the cupcake-and-cookie craze, and the pillow-lined window bench makes a cozy pit stop for a carefully brewed espresso drink made with beans from Terzi, the acclaimed Bologna roaster.
Eat: Vietnamese coffee cake or pineapple-chèvre pudding.
Drink: Caffe Americano ($2.95) or a reassuringly short macchiato, meticulously brewed on the fabled Faema e61.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: No

10. Jack’s
138 W. 10th St., nr. Greenwich Ave. 212-929-0821
One of the first to beat back the Starbucks surge with Fair Trade beans, upstate apples, and a conspicuously neighborhood-friendly swinging-screen-door vibe.
Eat: Toasted H&H bagels, Aunt Rosie’s warm chocolate-chip cookies.
Drink: South American beans and a patented contraption of owner Jack Mazzola’s own invention called a stir-brewer make for a rich, full-bodied $2.15 cup; espresso is better than most.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: No


11. Mudtruck
Sheridan Square, Seventh Ave. at W. 4th St.
Does coffee taste better dispensed from a rumbling orange hippiemobile blaring soul music from tinny-sounding speakers? Nope, but give the Mudtruck credit for taking on the Starbucks juggernaut early and always underselling them.
Eat: Generic pastries.
Drink: Sadly, the coffee ($1.50) tastes of cardboard and the espresso is thin and bitter.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: No

12. Joe
141 Waverly Pl., at Gay St.; 212-924-6750
The granddaddy of the West Village coffee-geek movement, Joe introduced the neighborhood to well-trained baristas, latte art, and Amy Sedaris’s cupcakes.
Eat: Doughnut Plant doughnuts.
Drink: Boutique beans from a Massachusetts roaster make for a fresh and lively cup of coffee ($1.80) that’s never overroasted; the espresso has actual heft and body.
Wireless: No
Bathroom: Yes


13. Ciao for Now
107 W. 10th St., nr. Sixth Ave. 212-929-8363
Outpost of the family-friendly East Village bakery-café with down-home front-porch appeal. Linger away, but seating is limited to a couple of hard benches.
Eat: Grilled Cotswold-cheese sandwich, pecan sticky buns (weekends only).
Drink: Good medium-bodied drip coffee ($1.75) from Colorado’s Ink! with a smooth finish (if you take milk, you’re in luckit’s the terrific Natural by Nature organic brand).
Wireless: No
Bathroom: No


14. Royale Cafe + Pastry
461 Sixth Ave., at W. 11th St. 212-255-5236
Strategically positioned near P.S. 41 and armed to the teeth with brownies, cookies, and cupcakes from Red Hook’s Baked café, Royale preys on unsuspectingbut discriminatingkindergartners and their chaperones.
Eat: Chipotle-cinnamon brownies, apple pie baked by a woman in the neighborhood.
Drink: Good drip coffee made from Gimme! Coffee beans.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: No


15. The Bean Coffee & Tea
446 Sixth Ave., nr. 10th St.; 212-777-0402
College kids lounge on dingy sofas and surf the Web at this throwback to an earlier coffee-shop era.
Eat: Liège waffles from the Belgian mobile enterprise Wafels & Dinges.
Drink: The cheapest cup on the map: $1.25.
Wireless: Yes
Bathroom: Yes


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