For a relatively small piece of Manhattan, the Flatiron District has an impressive density of coffee shops. And not just chains (though they have those, too) — the area is rich with coffee shops with unique ties to NYC. This list includes local family-owned businesses, shops that roast beans in Brooklyn, and one you’ve probably heard of that was first conceived right here in NYC.
The only thing I love more than a challenge is a coffee crawl, so I set out to on a mission to caffeinate my way around the Flatiron District. If you find yourself in the neighborhood and in need of a pick-me-up, check out one of these amazing coffee shops.
If your favorite didn’t make this list, let me know in the comments so I can check it out!
Gotham Coffee Roasters
Gotham Coffee Roasters is a cozy and unassuming coffee shop. It’s a small cafe with a walk-up counter and just a handful of tables. The coffee menu is straightforward, printed in vinyl letters on the back wall, with a few specials on a letter board beside the register. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw they had an Espresso Tonic on the menu, my personal favorite.
What stood out immediately was the service. The baristas were warm and welcoming, treating each customer as if they were a regular. They were knowledgeable, kindly talking patrons through the menu items, without being condescending.
I took one sip of my coffee and knew I had found a good one. This was one of the best Espresso Tonic’s I’ve ever had, with a sharp hit of espresso followed by the citrusy zip from the tonic. Don’t just trust my taste in coffee, though. Upon further research, I realized that this coffee shop is about as legit as it gets.
The founder, Chris Calkins, was mentored by Alfred Peet (founder of Peet’s Coffee) and was part of the original team that opened the very first Starbucks store in Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market. After an impressive career in coffee and then wine, he moved to NYC and opened Gotham Coffee Roasters in 2017. They source coffee from around the world and roast it in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I’ll go right out and say it: Gotham Coffee Roasters was my favorite coffee shop in the Flatiron District.
- Location: 23 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
- Seating: 4 small indoor tables, plus a few more outside when the weather is nice
- Food: Light pastry selection, plus seasonal offerings (breakfast tacos during my visit)
- Menu Highlight: Espresso Tonic
:3Coffee is a family-owned coffee shop with Colombian flare. They source all of their beans from Colombia and showcase Colombian flavors in their homemade baked goods. It’s a no-frills cafe that focuses on providing quality coffee and sincere customer service.
The coffee menu was short and sweet, printed out on a paper sign near the register. There was no fancy concoctions or flavors combinations, just the basics. I leaned into that and ordered a cappuccino. If I’ve learned anything from watching hours of baking shows, it’s that if you’re going to do something simple, you have to do it really well. They accomplished that.
The highlight at this coffee shop though, was actually not the coffee — it was their pastries. The pastry case was simple, but stocked with interesting South American flavors you won’t find at every other coffee shop. During my visit, the options included guava-filled Cambray (Colombian empanadas), fresh yellow corn arepas, and dulce de leche Piononos (a Colombian cake roll). I opted for the later and it was phenomenal.
I really enjoyed my coffee and pastry here, the barista’s were delightful, but it just wasn’t my favorite vibe inside. I’m not sure if it was dull wooden cabinetry or just the lack of twinkle lights. This coffee shop is a great pick to grab a coffee to take with you as you shop your way through the rest of the Flatiron District.
- Location: 29 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010
- Seating: 3 small indoor tables
- Food: Light selection of homemade, Colombian pastries
- Menu Highlight: Dulce de leche Pionono
One of the most ascetically pleasing coffee shops on this journey was Foreigner NYC. That shouldn’t be surprising, given they share the space with a photo studio. The vibe is sleek and modern, with gray stone walls and minimalist decor.
The menu was posted just inside the door and was split between coffee and tea. They had a selection of specialty drinks at the bottom, though it didn’t list any details or ingredient information. (Which is unfortunate because I would love to know what a Hanoi Aroma is.)
I almost always order an espresso tonic when I see it, but the espresso spritz piqued my interest. I wish I could tell you exactly what was in it. It seemed like just regular sparkling water, though I’m sure why that made it $2 more than the tonic. It was good, but was not sparkly at all.
The pastry case was small, but mighty. I ordered a cardamom bun, something I’ve never had or heard of before, and it came out perfectly warm and toasty. I kid you not, it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. This cardamom bun was life-giving and I cannot recommend it enough!
I did find this coffee shop to be a bit intimidating. I love good coffee as much as anyone, but I don’t like when good coffee shops come off as elitist. It was one of those places that felt like I had to somehow prove that I belonged there. I get the same feeling when I walk into a craft beer bar and order anything other than an IPA.
I’m willing to let that go though, because that cardamom bun was so dang good!
- Location: 64 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010
- Seating: Two mall tables inside, plus nice tiered seating outside during warmer months
- Food: Small selection (but great quality) of pastries
- Menu Highlight: Cardamom bun (are you even surprised?)
The most impressive thing about Devoción is their commitment to serving the freshest coffee imaginable. They work with farmers in Colombia, ship the beans directly to their roasting facility in Brooklyn, and then serve the coffee in their stores as soon as possible. The coffee in your cup at Devoción left the farm as little as 10 days ago, compared to the industry norm of 6 months to 1 year!
Honestly, my palate is not that sophisticated, but it was darn good coffee.
The other thing that makes Devoción stand out is their cafe space, which is stunning and homey. The focal point is a hanging chandelier of live plants, meant to evoke the jungles of Colombia. That is set in contrast to the industrial vibes from the original exposed brick and wood floors.
It is also the largest of the cafes on this list. There was a lot of seating, both tables and a leather sofa, but not quite enough for how popular the place was. Not a lot of coffee shops around here have this much seating, so it was a popular destination for remote workers. No bother, I took my farm-fresh coffee with me to go.
Overall, this place was a delight in terms of both coffee and ambiance.
- Location: 25 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
- Seating: Lots of indoor seating available (does fill up though)
- Food: Small selection of pastries
- Menu Highlight: Something black, like an espresso, americano or drip coffee.
Okay, I’m sure I’ve got some people rolling their eyes at this one, so I made sure to put it last. I stand by it, though!
Ralph’s Coffee is the coffee shop founded by the clothing retailer, Ralph Lauren. It’s now a chain, but it originated right here in NYC. Their flagship location is on the Upper East Side and is immensely popular, particularly during Christmastime. After the success of that location, they continued to open Ralph’s Coffee locations around NYC and the world, including one in the Flatiron District.
The Ralph’s Coffee in Flatiron is small, and takeout only. It’s got that Ralph Lauren-y Americana aesthetic inside, with dark green decor and classic pinstripe-clad baristas. The queue leads patrons past a wall of merch (including specialty chocolates made in Brooklyn) and then right to the register to order. The pickup bar is right back by the door.
The Ralph’s Coffee menu features their classic Ralph’s Roast coffee, a collection of espresso-based beverages and tea, plus a few unique items like draft oat latte, espresso tonic and matcha lemonade. They had gingerbread latte as a special during December, and it was one of the best I’ve had all season.
The important thing to know about Ralph’s Coffee is that they brew La Colombe coffee. They roast a special blend for Ralph’s, but it’s the same quality that you’ll find at a La Colombe cafe. I happen to love La Colombe, so I naturally loved Ralph’s, too.
The Ralph’s Coffee in Flatiron is much smaller and doesn’t offer the full experience of the flagship location, but that also makes it much less crowded. If you want to try Ralph’s but don’t want to commit a full morning to the experience, the Flatiron location is the way to go.
- Location: 160 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010
- Seating: No indoor seating, but there are a few tables outside.
- Food: Selection of pastries and sandwiches
- Menu Highlight: Sea salt dark chocolate bar (expensive, but worth it!)
Interested in more coffee content?
We wrote this Coffee Around the World post while we were backpacking around the world for 18 months. During that trip, we also took a really cool coffee farm tour in Medellin, Colombia, which we documented in this video.