Visit the galleries and tourist attractions of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District and you'll learn one thing quickly: you're going to need some great coffee to fuel all this sightseeing and High Line strolling. Luckily the area's well-furnished for your needs, from longtime New York City brands to underdogs (literally UNDER the High Line) and out-of-town stars alike. Sightseer bonus: unlike most small coffee shops in NYC, many of these places actually have a bathroom.
A bustling spot in the monolithic London Terrace apartment complex, Joe Coffee Company's Chelsea location is one of its older NYC cafés, and as such feels well rooted in the community. Have coffee to stay while relaxing with the paper on a long pistachio-colored banquette, or join the pooch-and-people-watching just out front. Coffee here is roasted at Joe's Red Hook, Brooklyn roastery, and includes house espresso and drip offerings as well as limited-release single origin coffees.
Don’t be fooled by this Cafe Grumpy, whose Chelsea spot is quite the cheerful experience despite the name. The Greenpoint-based roaster's 20th Street location (their first of what would become several in Manhattan) is an unsuspectingly spacious escape on a tree-lined street; a long walkway leads to the newly expanded back room with a charming outdoor patio oasis. Upon entering, you’ll find the friendly baristas chatting animatedly and feeling no embarrassment singing along to whatever's playing through the speakers. There’s also a good community feel, as a majority of the clientele appear to live or work nearby. The café is decorated with simplicity in mind – a singular brick accent wall, grey-brown tones, and custom Café Grumpy posters prove that this shop isn't trying to impress anyone with anything except its own superb brews.
This coffee shop under the High Line is anything but lowbrow. They're pulling out all the stops in this tiny, dark, and narrow space, from AeroPress to a "thermochromatic slow bar" to hard-to-find infusions of cascara tea, and the baristas are more than happy to engage with you over a handcrafted pour and a red velvet cookie. They used to feature Counter Culture and some other excellent brands, but now roast their own beans under the name Apes and Peacocks, and there has been not a bit of slippage in the quality – these guys know their coffee.
This near-hidden New York outpost of renowned national specialty roaster Intelligentsia isn't quite a speakeasy – but if you blink, you might miss it, tucked into the lobby of the century-old High Line Hotel. There are only a few seats here in the small, makeshift lobby space that houses the coffee bar, but the real attraction is the building's front courtyard, a capacious, hedge-hidden outdoor playground for humans (and even their dogs) that, with its cozy pillows and oasis-like-feel will have guests imagining they've been transported to Los Angeles or further.