Cafe Grumpy holds a special story for me. I first stumbled upon it with my girlfriend Kelley (then, just a girl who was a friend), two winters ago. She was visiting me in New York and we were going to see Black Swan with my friend Amanda in Union Square. We had arrived pretty early, and were in dire need of something to warm us up. I think we were also in dire need of a bathroom. Kelley looked up coffee shops in the area, and somehow we found ourselves following her iPhone to Cafe Grumpy’s Chelsea location on 20th between 7th and 8th Avenues… which was actually really far away from where we started. I remember walking for what seemed like forever and finally getting to Cafe Grumpy, after thinking we were in the wrong place a couple of times. Grumpy is placed in the middle of a quiet, residential block, and it easily blends into the buildings on the street. It’s a fairly modest storefront, so it can be pretty easy to walk right by.
But we didn’t walk by, we found it, and got two cappuccinos to warm our insides. Kelley told me this only after we got together, but while I was in the bathroom, our cappuccinos came and they both had little foam art hearts on the top. She saw them and thought it was cute, but put travel lids on them before I noticed. This was the visit when we were really falling in love with each other, and she saw it as a secret sign. Now, we try to go to Cafe Grumpy whenever she’s in the city and it’s become a little tradition for us to get heart cappuccinos.
Kelley visited for a little while, but left before we could make it down to Grumpy! So I found myself in the neighborhood and had to go. I’d have to be a fool to get a cappuccino in the summer here, so I got an iced coffee instead. I love their coffee because it is extremely tasty, and it’s extremely caffeinated. I drink a lot of coffee and it doesn’t always keep me up or energized– in fact, sometimes it makes me more tired! But every time I get coffee at Grumpy, I’m buzzed for a while.
They make great coffee, and that’s an understatement. Grumpy offers a wide selection of coffees, brewed by the cup. They even have an option on their coffee menu to try a sampling of their various roasts. Whether you’re looking for espresso drinks, iced coffee drinks, or just a cup of coffee, you’re in for a treat here. They treat coffee the way it should be treated: with great care and enthusiasm. The baristas are great and passionate about the drinks that they serve, and everyone who works there is really nice on top of it! They also offer an assortment of baked goods, including banana bread!!
The cafe itself is cozy and bright at the same time. It’s a great place to sit in the winter and read a good book, and it’s also nice to hang with friends for a while. It can get pretty crowded, but usually seating is available. They have a tiny sign on the door that I only noticed after going there a few times, that says “no laptops, please!”. After noticing it, I realized that one thing that sets Grumpy apart is that no one is on their laptop, distracted and sitting for hours doing work. Everyone there looks happy and relaxed every time I go, and I think it’s because Cafe Grumpy is really a place to de-stress and spend some time. As I mentioned before, it’s a little tucked away in the block and the neighborhood. It feels like you’ve found a secret spot when you first find it, and it has a really personal feel to it. I would recommend stopping by their Chelsea location, or one of their other locations for some great coffee!
Cafe Grumpy: http://www.cafegrumpy.com/
- Chelsea: 224 West 20th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
- Lower East Side: 13 Essex Street (between Canal and Hester Streets)
- Park Slope: 383 7th Avenue (between 11th and 12th Streets)
- Greenpoint: 193 Meserole Avenue (at Diamond Street)