There’s no better time than the dead of winter (Bomb Cyclone anyone?) to cozy up inside a coffee shop to read that book you swore you would in 2017 or finish an essay that’s due at midnight. Or maybe you’ve just moved into one of Bedly’s beautiful apartments in the neighborhood, met your new roommates, and are looking for some local establishments to grab a cup of joe and get to know each other. Rather than feeding the corporate giant that is Starbucks, visit one of the local coffee shops below! Between the six, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs. The best part? You get a personalized experience every time you go to one of these cafes. The staff is friendly, and if you go often enough, it won’t take long for them to learn your name. Each shop has its own unique vibe that attracts neighborhood locals turned loyal patrons.
A hybrid of sorts, DTUT is a coffee shop by day and bar by night located on 2nd Avenue and 91st Street. It stands for “Downtown, Uptown” (bringing the downtown vibe uptown), and can be pronounced “D.T.U.T.” or “D-Tut”. However you pronounce it, though, you’re sure to be welcomed by the friendly staff in a rustic-meets-hipster space, complete with armchairs, an antelope head mounted on the wall, a door with light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and rotating art on display.
DTUT attracts all kinds of drink lovers. Whether you’re in need of a place to post up during the day with a large cup of coffee, to escape the cold and cozy up with friends, or hitting up the happy hour after work for a much-deserved drink of choice, DTUT literally has it all. So what, might you ask, could make this place any cooler? Possibly the fact that (rumor has it), Central Perk from “Friends” is based off of the original DTUT. Yup! The “living room” like area in back is complete with four couches, a couple of armchairs, and coffee tables. Unfortunately, you won’t find Gunther working here. Fortunately, the baristas and bartenders working make for better company.
This coffee shop and bar also serves a variety of food. Delivered daily, there’s an assortment of pastries, sandwiches, and small sides to share (think pita and artichoke dip, small quiches, and salads). Oh yes…and s’mores. A platter with your own personal campfire surrounded by chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers is about as close as you’ll get to the great outdoors in the city, making it well worth the visit to DTUT.
Wifi is available until 5pm Monday through Friday, then shuts off in the evenings and on weekends to maintain the bar-like atmosphere.
Located just an avenue over from DTUT on 1st Avenue between 89th and 90th Street, Mellow Yellow is a newly opened, Israeli coffee shop that preaches “Coffee and Vibes”. Fair warning: upon entering the small but cozy coffee shop you may have overwhelming feelings of happiness and find yourself smiling due to the vibrant yellow of the walls, quirky art and chill music. Don’t see the menu when you walk in? Look to the chalkboard wall on your right at the coffee bar made of mosaic tiles. Totally groovy, dude.
Like DTUT, Mellow Yellow has rotating art on display from local artists. Supporting locals in this way adds an intimate touch which makes these coffee shops even more likeable, creating a stable institution in the neighborhood while in viable competition with the Starbucks directly across the street.
Mellow Yellow serves coffee and tea, but also smoothies and juices made fresh. Their rotating food menu includes mouth-watering Israeli dishes at an affordable, “coffee-shop” price (check out their instagram here for tasty photos), and the dishes are definitely enough to fill you up. Not to mention the food is beautifully put together on the dish, so you can tell there was a lot of time and thought put into the making of the food. The seating area is quaint and open. It fills up fast on the weekends, though, so if you’re interested in brunching there be sure to arrive early or be willing to wait for a seat!
Free wifi all day.
Located on 96th street and 2nd avenue, Perk is just across the street from the last uptown Q train stop! It initially opened up in Murray Hill, then made its way to Yorkville last year. Supplying Stumptown Coffee, they also have seasonal, rotating suggested coffee drinks such as a honey almond latte. If you’re in need of a quick bite in the morning, Perk offers oatmeal to go, yogurt, and a selection of pastries, including doughnuts from Dough Doughnuts – need I say more?
Perk also offers stamp cards (10th coffee is free), and let’s be honest, any time there is potential for free rewards, I’m more likely to visit the shop. They also have wifi at all hours, which makes it a great place for students to work. And if brewed coffee is your jam, they offer $0.50 refills. Whether you’re in need of a quick coffee to go or want to sit at one of the tables inside, a coffee at Perk when you’re heading to the subway is a no-brainer.
Located on 84th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, this coffee shop seems to be the place where every UES student goes to study. I was deceived the first few times I went, thinking the small area in front with a few tiny tables was all the seating that Jax had. Boy, was I wrong. Past the counter and down the stairs in back will lead you to the largest space of all the coffee shops on this post, filled with tables, chairs, benches, and even an outdoor patio that is absolutely lovely to sit out and read on in the summer. I have a sweet spot for Jax, seeing as I’ve written many essays in that basement when needing an escape from loud roommates. Given the large space and array of large tables to fill it, Jax is a perfect spot for group projects or meetings.
Similar to Perk, they also carry Stumptown Coffee and Dough Doughnuts, but it doesn’t end there. Jax has a plethora of other “healthy” pastries, chocolate, smoothies, and food. Their food menu is actually quite extensive for your typical coffee shop, and all home-made. I love their quinoa and roasted veggies. Aside from veggie bowls, they serve toasted sandwiches, wraps, breakfast paninis, fruit, and more. They also serve Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream milkshakes and floats! And don’t be afraid to ask for drink suggestions – a Dirty Matcha or Honey Latte may be in your future.
There is Wifi all day. The place fills up in the evenings and weekends. Like Mellow Yellow, be sure to arrive bright and early if you plan on having a day of studying!
Okay, so maybe not your sit-down coffee shop, but if you need a quick coffee and you’re in the neighborhood, this is your place. A hole in the wall shop on 2nd Avenue between 87th and 88th Street, the counter is only several feet from the entry door, but The Brown Cup has never disappointed. The staff are the friendliest (think a warm “helloooo!” every time you enter), and I always leave with a smile on my face. Quick and efficient, they work hard so you can get in and out in a timely manner and they can continue serving the next customers. Their menu also has juices, smoothies, pastries and breakfast sandwiches to boast. My favorite is the avocado, tomato, and egg on whole wheat toast and I add hummus. I swear – this breakfast gets me through some mornings! They also make everything fresh right in front of you, so no pre-made sandwiches. Score!
The first coffee shop I visited on the UES, Cafe Noi is a cute, quaint cafe with food and even gelato. Another Israeli coffee shop, Cafe Noi is roughly 15 blocks south of Mellow Yellow on 2nd Avenue and 76th Street. A smaller space with limited seating, Cafe Noi is a bright, cheery, breath of fresh air. Between the casual interactions I’ve had with the employees working behind the small counter, observing them sit down at tables themselves and chat with customers and each other, Cafe Noi definitely gives off the family-owned business vibe. Different from the more traditional Israeli menu items offered at Mellow Yellow, here you’ll find anything from pancakes, quiche, and waffles to yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit, all made fresh to order.
Personal note: I met my broker here several times in 2012 while trying to find my first NYC apartment. “Several times” because things kept falling through as we didn’t meet the qualifications for rental, so it may not come as any surprise to you that this is also the only coffee shop I’ve ever had an emotional breakdown in. That being said – if you’re on a time crunch or looking to move in NYC without the stress, be sure to let Bedly handle your apartment hunting needs! They’ll place you in fully furnished units without the hassle of a broker, so I can guarantee you won’t end up crying in a coffee shop to someone who could care less.
Photo credits in order of appearance: @DTUT Instagram, @MellowYellow Instagram, Workfrom, Cafe Jax, Yelp, @CafeNoiEast