One day soon, you might find that you’re going on a coffee date. This could be with someone you’ve never met before (or never seen in daylight), someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, or maybe even an ex who misses holding hands with you. Whoever it is, you need a place where you can sip through a quickly-evaporating paper straw, lean on both elbows, and make an assessment about whether or not you’d like to make out or connect on LinkedIn with the person sitting across from you.
All the spots on this guide are spread out around the city and have enough seating so that you won’t have to tap your foot until someone studying for the GMAT gets up from their table. And, if your coffee situation is strictly platonic, these spots work just as well for that, too.
Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea has two big things going for it. The first is that there’s no wifi here, so you won’t be surrounded by 23-year-olds who are “thinking about thinking about applying law school.” The second thing is their plant-filled back garden. Sit here when it’s nice out, and drink something cold. Or hot, if you’re unfamiliar with how body temperatures work.
Maman’s Centre Street location has a whole range of seating options. There’s a full-service indoor cafe space, an outdoor patio with big umbrellas and tables, and a back room in the coffee shop area with mismatched wooden chairs and tables that are definitely described as “distressed” online. So whether you’re meeting up with an ex and don’t know how it’s going to go, or just a friend that you pretty much only see in the context of drinking coffee, Maman is a great place to sit and talk over cappuccinos and gooey chocolate chips walnut cookies.
Molasses Books is first and foremost a used bookstore and literary event space in Bushwick, but they also serve coffee and have a bunch of folding chairs and tables. This is an incredibly charming choice for a date with someone who probably did better in school than you. Do you know this about them for sure? No. Can you glean it from the photos of them on Fulbright teaching English to school children in Brunei? Yes.
The Elk is nicer than most neighborhood coffee shops, and that’s because it’s on a quiet street in the West Village and sells things like journals and succulents (as well as lattes). Sit on the stools by the windows, and when the light catches you just right, you’ll appear even more majestic than you look in your dating profile pictures.
This sort of thing never happens to you, but you accidentally hit a very nice person with a frisbee in Prospect Park and now you’re going on a date with them. Buy them a sandwich and a coffee at Hungry Ghost nearby. It’s a nice spot in Prospect Heights (there are a few other locations) with big comfortable banquettes and a bunch of stools around tables.
Tiny’s Giant is a cafe and coffee shop right by the Delancey Essex Subway station on the LES. It has floor-to-ceiling windows, and a bunch of tables where you can hang out for an hour or so (or less, depending on if they spend the whole date talking about their ex’s obsession with astrology). If someone gets hungry, there’s a full menu of sandwiches and breakfast-y things.
Here’s what to do next time you’re on a first date in the West Village: meander around Washington Square Park and look at people with pigeons on their shoulders, do some light window shopping at an expensive card store, and then, when you’re too tired to talk and walk at the same time, head to Think Coffee. This location has a pretty large back area with tables and couches.
Ground Support is somewhat of a relaxed outlier on an otherwise very-fancy Soho street full of expensive clothing stores and pop art galleries. We’re telling you this now so you can use it as a talking point during the date. Plus, there are a few benches outside where you can sit with prime Soho people-watching views.
If you’re meeting up with someone in Midtown East (before work, during a lunch break, maybe just instead of doing whatever it is you do as a “project manager”), try Ole & Steen on 48th Street and Lexington Avenue. This is a bright, open-feeling Danish bakery and cafe. There’s plenty of room to sit and talk about your upbringing, as well as some really good pastries and sandwiches.
Devoción is the most impressive-looking coffee shop in all of Williamsburg. It’s in an old warehouse on Grand Street, has a big skylight, a few leather couches, and you can watch beans being roasted. Also - there’s a wall of greenery, and if the date goes south - just focus on how you could possibly recreate the plant wall in your own apartment.
There’s nothing original or quaint about Brooklyn Roasting Co - (they’re all over the city) but they actually roast the beans at the Dumbo location, so it’s huge, industrial-feeling, and smells great all the time. And since it’s in Dumbo, you should probably take advantage of some sort of view of the river and bridges before or after your coffee.
We don’t fully understand who chooses to buy t-shirts with the word “sweatshop” written on them, but this place appears to be a design and clothing studio as well as an Australian coffee shop. This will only help your case to prove you’re a generally cool person who typically drinks flat whites on top of tables made out of milk crates. It’s also only a few blocks from Williamsburg Cinemas, if it seems like there may be a part-two of the date.
Some coffee shops are minimally decorated, with just a few tables, and one person wearing glasses making lattes behind a counter. Pause Cafe on the LES is not one of these places. It has tons of watercolor paintings hanging on the brick walls, a huge wooden chandelier, and throw pillows galore. When it’s nice outside, they open the big windows so the whole place feels open and breezy, and there’s typically at least one cute dog hanging out on the bench on the sidewalk.
There are a ton of windows at Kos Kaffe in Park Slope. So grab a little table (they only have two-person tables here), and an iced tea lemonade that tastes like liquid gummy bears and imagine that you’re a nicely-kept indoor plant. Kos Kaffe limits laptop use during peak hours which means you can avoid sitting next to a writer who will eavesdrop on your conversation and turn it into the pilot episode of their TV show.
Third Rail Coffee
Third Rail is a very normal and relaxed coffee shop on 10th Street and 2nd Avenue in the East Village. It’s right near Astor Place, so it’s a good place to meet if you’re coming from opposite sides of the city. Also - it’s across from a nice little park in front of an old church, so you can sit outside and pretend you live in a small Colonial town.
After a few rounds of carefully-crafted, polite texting, one of you has agreed to meet the other on the UES during a weekend afternoon. To make the date memorable while still being casual, go to DTUT. This is a coffee shop and bar, but it’s also a place where you can eat DIY s’mores on a couch. The whole place feels like the sort of place where sitcom characters hang out instead of going to work, and it’s very easy to spend a few hours here.
Cafe Amrita is less than a block from the 110th Street entrance on the west side of Central park. So here’s an idea: meet at Cafe Amrita on the UWS and get some coffee to-go before you stroll through the park. Or, reverse that plan, and hang in the park until you want to sit somewhere nice and drink some tea. There’s sidewalk seating during the summertime, and a Happy Hour with beer, wine, and well drinks.
This is a spot in Bed-Stuy with a bunch of wooden tables, and a nice leather couch in the back where you can attempt to not-awkwardly shift your body positioning so you’re facing each other while you talk. There’s a shelf area where you can buy books as well as coffee, and every purchase helps fund events like open mics and yoga classes. Try not to say outright that you’re a caring, thoughtful person - just show up here and it’ll be implied.
As long as you’re meeting up before 8pm, Kobrick Coffee is a quiet cafe and bar in the Meatpacking area where you can sit with someone and ask them how long they’ve lived in NYC. Around 8pm, though, they dim the lights and start playing EDM and serving liquor. Save that for date five, at least.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds
For something that’s slightly more exciting than sitting across from each other and trying not to get cappuccino foam on your upper lip, go eat some slices of pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Gowanus. In addition to pies, there’s a whole drink menu and some big tables where you can sit down.
Cafe Standard is a little spot in the East Village at the bottom of The Standard Hotel where you can get a coffee or a snack any time of the day. They also serve drinks here, and you might see some people casually day drinking on the weekends. Also, in the summer, there’s a big patio for you sit on.
Yes, it’s a silly name. But it’s much better than meeting up anywhere where they’re going to misspell your name in sharpie on your grande to-go cup. Ground Central has a back room that feels like a parlor room in a wealthy person’s home. It’s a little dark back here, but that will only help you forget you’re having a date in Midtown.