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The Best Coffee Shops of the Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | June 17, 2015 10:11am | Updated on June 19, 2015 4:30pm
 The Upper West Side has seen a host of new coffee shops open in the past few years. 
Best New Coffee Shops
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Over the past four years, 14 new coffee shops have opened in the neighborhood. Some are flagship stores run by larger chains, but most are shops owned by smaller outfits in expansion mode.

Part of the rationale behind the boomlet is that coffee is finally getting its due, according to Anthony Kurutz, owner of the new Plowshares Coffee. The shop opened in the fall on Broadway between West 104th and 105th streets.

"Given all the risks and the incredible amount of labor that goes into a great cup, coffee is tremendously undervalued and historically has been expected to be cheap," he said.

The perception is changing, however, "as consumers get a new understanding and appreciation for specialty coffee that is sourced, roasted and prepared with care." 

DNAinfo has found the best new coffee shops for every drinker's needs. 

Best Locally Roasted Coffee (offered by a local entrepreneur)

Plowshares Coffee Bloomingdale
2730 Broadway (between 104th and 105th streets)
Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Owner Anthony Kurutz formed Plowshares Coffee Roasters about seven years ago to roast beans in small batches that he sells wholesale to restaurants and cafés across the city. But Kurutz, a local resident, wanted to open a retail shop in an area he believes is in "desperate" need of good coffee.

The coffee comes from growers Kurutz knows well in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, among other locales. The beans are then roasted for about an hour outside the city at his operation in Hillburn, N.Y. 

The cup that results from all that care is top-notch, according to customers.

Plowshares also offers a Nitro Cold Brew. "The coffee is infused with nitrogen gas and looks very similar to Guinness beer when it is poured," Kurutz said. The result is a coffee that tastes like cold brew but has "a much creamier mouth feel."

Best Cold Brew

Birch Coffee
750 Columbus Ave.
7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Open weekends at 8 a.m. 

Birch Coffee's refillable cold brew growlers ($20 for a new one, $15 when refilled) have a loyal following. Cold brew coffee is steeped for 12 hours and results in a less acidic and fuller-bodied taste than regular iced coffee. 

Birch describes its cold brew as "rich" and "full-bodied" with chocolate notes. 

"They are amazing and probably how I will live through the summer," tweeted New Yorker Jack Stratton. 

Growler delivery service to addresses all over the city is already underway this season.

Best Pour-Over

Irving Farm
224 W. 79th St.
Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

The perennial morning crowds at Irving Farm's West 79th Street location, which opened in the spring of 2012, don't keep the baristas from brewing coffee on a cup-by-cup basis. The coffee shop has a special section of its coffee bar devoted to pour-overs. The pour-over method, in which hot water is poured over a filter full of coffee grounds set above the cup, creates a freshly brewed cup.

Coffee snobs prefer the pour-over to coffee that was brewed in a big batch hours earlier and left sitting. The result is more flavorful and nuanced, according to Irving Farm's coffee aficionados.

Pour-overs can be made hot or cold and there are typically several choices of beans to pick from. 

Best Regular Cup

2211 Broadway
Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Fans of the coffee shop Fika — which means coffee break in Swedish — laud the lack of bitterness in its strong coffee.

The mini-chain's owners point to the way the beans are roasted, using "a traditional Swedish method, which produces a bold, yet smooth cup without any bitterness." 

This location, at the base of the Apthorp, opened in February 2014, and since then the company has been on a roll opening new shops throughout the city. 

Best Elaborate Coffee Drink 

Box Kite Coffee
128 West 72nd St.
Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

If you want to know how seriously this small coffee shop takes its drinks, just look at its manager Steven Latham. He's been a competitor at multiple barista competitions, including the United States Barista Competition, where he whipped up a coffee drink with "bee pollen, mirabelle plum purée, meyer lemon juice, Fever-Tree tonic, and a chamomile infused simple syrup."   

The narrow shop, which opened on Feb. 13, has an equally narrow focus on coffee and espresso drinks (they also serve toast) that range between $2 to $5, made by experienced baristas using acclaimed machines.  

The rotating seasonal drinks are considered hard-to-beat by neighbors.

Box Kite is known for its drink "The Unicorn," which is also a favorite at its East Village location. The decadent drink combines cold brew coffee, bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, Half & Half, sea salt solution, and jet black cocoa powder, and costs $6. Box Kite also serves up "'Spro and Tonic" that's made by adding a shot of espresso to a glass of tonic water.