Wind gushes down Broadway, pushing stressed students toward their dorms as they tuck their hands in their coat pockets and their ears in their hats. Twelve coffee shops offer these students a momentary haven filled with the smells of fresh coffee and tea. COVID-19 indoor dining restrictions prohibit students from hauling their books and laptops to these shops, but warm drinks in disposable cups keep the shops alive and Morningside Heights and Harlem residents toasty.
The Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam Ave.
Founded in 1961, The Hungarian Pastry Shop, currently owned by the Binioris family, is home to students and authors looking for an intellectual study spot with a Hungarian twist. Sweet treats such as tiramisu and flourless chocolate cake can be enjoyed outside with a view of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as well as the foot and street traffic along Amsterdam Avenue.
While ordering, customers can still observe the novels by the entrance that have been written in part at the pastry and coffee shop. To warm themselves, customers can purchase a cup of American coffee, specialty tea, or hot cider. Specialty drinks include Hungarian Coffee—American coffee with almond extract, whipped cream, and cinnamon—and Russian Coffee—espresso with hot chocolate and whipped cream—among others.
Joe Coffee Company, 550 West 120th St. and 2950 Broadway
In 2011, eight years after its founding, Joe Coffee opened its first Columbia location in the Northwest Corner Building. Since then, Joe Coffee Company extended its reach into Columbia’s campus by opening locations in Pulitzer Hall and Dodge Hall. However, the Dodge location is currently closed.
Before COVID-19 sparked dining restrictions in New York City, students could enjoy their study fuel in the shop, but now students must take their coffee blends to Low Steps or heated tents. Joe Coffee Company honors its mission “to serve excellent coffee with warm hospitality in every one of our communities” by selling select drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, and chai lattes.
Blue Bottle Coffee, 2901 Broadway
Since the opening of the Blue Bottle Coffee Morningside Heights location in October, customers have enjoyed their drinks with pastries sourced from Bien Cuit, a pastry shop in Brooklyn. Professional woodwork adds a layer of luxury to the furniture in this Morningside Heights location, but it cannot be enjoyed to its utmost potential due to indoor dining restrictions. Customers can still order takeout in-store or on the Blue Bottle Coffee app.
Aside from the widely-offered cappuccino and latte, Blue Bottle Coffee prides itself on its Gibraltar, a twist on the cortado with organic espresso and steamed milk, and its Muscovado Sugar Latte. Also, its Bella Donovan is a pour-over featuring an organic blend of raspberry, chocolate, and molasses that it deems “pure comfort.”
Gong Cha, 2810 Broadway
For fresh tea and boba, Gong Cha on Broadway invites shivering walkers in with the promise of warm, fresh boba tea to bring the feeling back to their fingers. With sundry series of drinks including the milk foam series, the milk tea series, and the coffee series, customers have no shortage of choices.
Some drinks go for as low as $4.25 for a medium-sized drink and can be enhanced with milk foam, white pearls, and red bean, among other options. Something that makes it “a hit with many customers” is the milk foam—salted cream that tops its tea—which is brewed every four hours.
Dear Mama Coffee, 611 West 129th St.
Dear Mama Coffee in Manhattanville uses its platform to uplift its community while serving unique blends of coffee. This specialty coffee spot, wine bar, and eatery has rotating art exhibitions and installations that feature local artists. Dear Mama Coffee launched the Buy a Meal For A Neighbor Initiative, which provides meals to Harlem residents who are struggling financially, and Fuel the Frontline Initiative, which delivers coffee to the East Harlem Mount Sinai emergency room and other medical groups in Harlem.
By using the app or ordering inside, customers can order the “Winter Wonderland Drinks’' such as the Starlight Mocha or Campfire Latte to feature on their Instagram and Snapchat stories. However, hot coffee, including varieties like red-eye, espresso, and Americano, is offered along with various teas and lattes. For customers over the age of 21, Dear Mama Coffee serves beer, wine, and spirits.
Max Caffé, 1262 Amsterdam Ave.
Max Caffe has temporarily lost the power of its dim, cozy indoor atmosphere, but takeout still allows customers to order its classic Italian food and coffee specialties. For customers who prefer milk alternatives, the café offers soy and almond milk.
Hot drink options include lattes, mochas, and Americanos. The café drives home its charm with its unique foam art, as well as other adorable art that features smiling furry animals and welcoming phrases such as “Nice to see you” and “ur cute.”
Broadway Au Lait, 3070 Broadway
Broadway Au Lait is a joint that defies modernity, serving food reminiscent of home-cooked meals and warm coffee. Muffins line the window facing Broadway, tempting hungry customers to grab a bite as they trudge toward Columbia’s campus.
With unmatched prices—a large coffee is $2.25—the coffee shop still gives students a caffeine rush without emptying their bank accounts. They can also buy a cookie to reward themselves for finding this hidden gem.
Silver Moon Bakery, 2740 Broadway
Silver Moon Bakery lures customers along Broadway with its scents of fresh baguettes and decadent cakes. Besides its wide variety of tarts, cakes, breads, and cookies, customers can enjoy both warm and cold drinks, in which they can even dip their pastries.
Located on the corner of 105th and Amsterdam, this cozy bakery allows two customers in at a time to order drinks like hot or iced coffee, tea, Americano, and mocha.
Oren’s Daily Roast, 2882 Broadway
Oren’s Daily Roast is another stop for students trying to save money. This coffee joint offers 50 percent off pastries and drinks on Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., as well as 10 percent off for students at all other times. Oren’s prides itself on being truthful about its ingredients.
The store offers coffee from the Americas, Africa, Arabia, Indonesia, and the South Pacific. Inside the store, customers can order espressos, Americanos, cortados, matcha lattes, and other drinks. Oren’s also deems its cocoa a “delicious cup of joy,” since it is blended with its creamy chocolate sauce and steamed milk.
Plowshares Coffee Bloomingdale, 2730 Broadway and Plowshares Coffee Roasters, 1351 Amsterdam Ave.
Plowshares Coffee has one location in Morningside Heights and another location in Harlem. Customers can enjoy baked delicacies such as cranberry scones, almond croissants, and pecan sticky buns brought in from popular New York City bakeries like Balthazar, SANS, and Bien Cuit, along with Plowshares’ specialty roasted coffee and tea.
Originally selling just roasted coffee wholesale, this coffee-roasting joint now serves all varieties of coffee including mochas, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and cortados. Plowshares Coffee Bloomingdale has warmed the residents of Morningside Heights since it opened its flagship retail café in 2014 on Broadway, and it opened Plowshares Coffee Roasters in Harlem during 2019—which featured a 1940s Probat coffee roaster.
Tea Magic, 2878 Broadway
Along with its warm boba tea options, Tea Magic also offers tea for those who can brave the cold with a frozen drink in their hand. Its milk slush, fruit slush, and special edition smoothie come in flavors like honeydew milk slush, lychee fruit slush, and matcha smoothie. However, the warm caramel milk tea, lavender milk tea, and strawberry milk tea are some warmer options for the freezing winter.
Crepes and noodle soups are among the warm foods that can accompany customers’ boba purchases. Besides specifying the sugar and the ice level, customers can customize their boba with toppings such as egg pudding, salted cream top, and pineapple jelly.
Kuro Kuma, 121 La Salle St.
Although only one customer is allowed in the store at one time, Kuro Kuma still warms West Harlem with its cheap yet high-quality coffee. Similar to Max Caffe, Kuro Kuma also has eye-catching foam on its drinks, but this time in the shapes of hearts, flowers, and leaves.
The baby blue tile that serves as the backdrop for the employees welcomes customers like a breath of fresh air. Espressos for $2.75, macchiatos for $3.25, and many other drinks await cold customers inside. Although some Harlem restaurants have been hit by the pandemic, Kuro Kuma remains strong.