24 February 2017

The NYC Caffeine Chronicles: Greenpoint Coffee Guide

I have spent a lot of time in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg over the years, including a recent visit to a couple of speciality coffee shops there, but I hadn't really scratched the surface on its northern neighbour, Greenpoint, apart from to go to Five Leaves, a favourite restaurant of mine, which is on the Greenpoint–Williamsburg borders. When carrying out some coffee research for my most recent trip to New York, I realised that there were a fair few Greenpoint coffee spots that were worth a visit and I spent a happy — and caffeinated — morning there last week.

I took the East River Ferry from the Financial District all the way up to the India Street docks (which provides the above vista of the Manhattan skyline), a fast 15-minute journey, which brought me within a five-minute walk of the coffee.

I started my tour at Homecoming, which is located in the "middle-west" of Greenpoint on one of the main north–south drags, Franklin Street. I was attracted both by the prospect of coffee from San Francisco roaster Sightglass (a favourite of mine) and by the fact that Homecoming is a flower shop and lifestyle boutique as well as a coffee shop. The interiors are beautiful, the colourful flowers setting off the minimalist white tiling and light wood flooring.

The exchange rate being what it is, I allowed myself only to browse the shop briefly, before taking a seat at the little bench by the door. The cortado I ordered ($4) was really nice, the barista was lovely and there was a very calming, relaxed ambiance in the cafe during my visit. There are no filter coffee options, although there is a cold brew on the menu, if that's your thing.

107 Franklin Street nr Greenpoint Ave. WebsiteTwitterInstagram.

As someone who loves to spend time in Nordic cities, I was naturally drawn to the Nordic-influenced Búðin, which is half a block east of Homecoming on Greenpoint Avenue. The cafe has minimalist, industrial-chic décor: blue walls, metal stools and pendant lights. There is plenty of seating around the three sides of the large, central coffee bar and both smaller and communal tables along the side and in the back.

Búðin often offers coffees from Sweden, Norway and Iceland, and there were two coffees from the Swedish Drop Coffee available as a pourover: an El Salvador variety and a Gichathaini from Kenya ($5), which is the one I chose. The pourover was excellent, with the slightly tart and fruity notes of the Gichathaini coming through very nicely. There were quite a few MacBookers on a Monday morning, but with its welcoming, knowledgable baristas and warm atmosphere, Búðin remains a great place to enjoy top-notch coffee.

114 Greenpoint Avenue bet. Franklin St. & Manhattan Ave. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Champion Coffee
I saw a lot of beautiful espresso machines on this New York trip but one of the loveliest was the cerulean La Marzocco in Champion's Manhattan Avenue coffee bar. In fact, everything Champion do is beautifully designed, from the gallery wall next to the coffee bar to the retail bags of coffee beans. There is plenty of seating in the small-ish cafe and I read that there is also a lovely back garden but it was much too cold a day for that.

I had hoped to sample a hand-brewed filter coffee, but the coffee menu focuses on espresso-based drinks and so I stuck to my usual cortado ($3.75), which was on the long side but tasted nice. I already had lunch plans and couldn't sample the tempting selection of sandwiches.

1107 Manhattan Avenue nr Clay St. Website. Instagram.

Upright Coffee

So petite that only a few people can stand inside at one time, I can confirm that Upright Coffee, further south down Manhattan Avenue from Champion, is indeed appropriately named. There are a couple of stools where you can perch by the front window watching the denizens of Greenpoint walk past but otherwise, Upright is standing room only (and not much of that).

Upright roast their own coffee and the coffee menu was, once again, espresso-based. If I had known pourovers were a rare breed in Greenpoint, I might not have loaded up on two cortados back in Manhattan! The cortado I ordered was also on the long side — the price was the same as for a latte and it probably approached a latte in volume. The coffee, though, was rich and smooth and worked well as a (not-so-)cortado.

860 Manhattan Avenue #2 nr Milton St. Website. Twitter.

On my list for next time:

Odd Fox Coffee (984 Manhattan Avenue nr Huron St.). Website. When I was in Greenpoint — just last week — the airplane-themed Propeller Coffee occupied the shop at 984 Manhattan Avenue. I didn't have time to go in but it has now permanently closed and Odd Fox is its replacement.

Sweetleaf Coffee (159 Freeman Street nr Manhattan Ave.). Website. Twitter. Instagram. They also have coffee shops in Long Island City and Williamsburg.

Variety Coffee Roasters (145 Driggs Avenue nr Russell St.). Website. Instagram.


  1. Hi Bex!

    Like you, I've visited Williamsburg a lot in the last couple of years, but not ventured north to Greenpoint. Looks like I will have to add it to my list! It's interesting that you can get coffee there from Sightglass (California) and the Nordic countries, because a lot of New York coffee shops roast their coffee in Greenpoint. In fact, I suspect that I'll spend as much time there visiting roasters as I will visiting coffee shops, so it'll be a busy day or two!

    Oh, and you have to visit Sweetleaf, particularly the original branch, which is just north of Greenpoint in Queens. It's amazing!

    Many thanks,

    1. Thanks, Brian. Definitely worth a trip to Greenpoint (and definitely go by the East River Ferry for a more interesting journey!).

      Thanks for the tip on Sweetleaf. It's been on my list for a while but I'd already had six coffees in the space of about four hours so decided I would enjoy it more another time! :)