Underline Coffee — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Underline Coffee is located by the 20th Street entrance to the High Line in West Chelsea.  The attractive space was busy during our early afternoon visit.  While the crowd was mostly quiet, once again we were assaulted by music that was too loud.  There were the usual coffee-making sounds, but they weren’t that bad.  No, it was just the music.  Had the volume been lowered one or two notches, the space could have been comfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Still, there aren’t many other options in the immediate location, and the coffee was good, so you could do worse.  With luck, perhaps whoever is working that day may show some restraint.  The noise level wasn’t awful, but that shouldn’t be the measure.  Underline Coffee is tolerable, but it could be far more.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (close at 6:00 p.m. in winter)

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 10th and 11th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Underline Coffee

 

Telegraphe Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraph Cafe was fairly busy during our visit, but despite being completely full it was comfortable.  It’s a small space with a handful of tightly packed tables to the right of the entrance and stools lining the counter and the front windows.  Despite having a large glassed front, the sound level was manageable.  We assume that window shades, which had been drawn halfway down, helped to absorb or deflect the sound.

Music was playing during part of visit, but the volume was low so it didn’t add much to the soundscape.  All told, given how crowded the space was, we were quite happy with the sound level and would gladly return.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraphe Cafe offers breakfast and lunch items and well made coffees.  In an neighborhood that offers few comfortable options, Telegraphe Cafe is worth visiting.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Telegraphe Cafe

Grade Coffee — 73.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Grade coffee is a very small coffee shop next to an apparently unrelated barbershop, Fellow Barber.  Despite being two distinct businesses, a door is open between the spaces.  Grade Coffee space takes up very little real estate.  We didn’t have our tape measure with us, but it felt like it was well under 200 square feet.  Which was fine, as we were there for a coffee, not a nosh.

Because the space is so small, it’s quiet by default. There was music playing and it was a bit louder than we would like, but it wasn’t loud. We must note that the meter reading would have been lower but the door and window were open to the street and about halfway through our visit a large truck came by to deliver construction materials to a nearby site that will no doubt become a collection of condos owned by shell LLCs used by absentee foreign owners to park disposable cash. If the truck kept moving, the space would have been pretty darn nice. Even with it, we were fine.

Grade Coffee isn’t a place you can use as your office.  Seating consists of three small stools, and there are no tables.  One tiny ledge could barely hold a small tablet, certainly not a laptop.  So you can’t come here to work or linger.  Grade Coffee it the place you go to order, drink, and leave. Unlike most small coffee shops, Grade Coffee has a restroom available for customers.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Wythe Avenue and Berry Street), Brooklyn, NY 11249

WEBSITE

Grade Coffee

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — 72.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We only visited Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to get a few donuts to go.  Once we walked in, we wished we had time to stay and have a coffee and donut. Peter Pan is an old-school bakery with a service counter, and at least half of the seats were taken while we were there.  And with good reason. Peter Pan has long been ranked as one of the best–if not the best–donut shop in the city.  It’s been around for over 60 years, and nothing about the place has changed.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If you want to experience a real New York City neighborhood institution, you couldn’t find a better example. There was a constant flow of customers coming in to get donuts to go, but the bustling line wasn’t annoying.  Music played very softly in the background, and the older crowd who opted to eat in talked relatively quietly to each other.  We thought that everything about the place was perfect.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

And the donuts? Yes, they are some of the best in the city.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. Meserole and Norman Avenues), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Peter Pan Donuts

The Brooklyn Commons — 62.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Brooklyn Commons is a coffee shop and “radical movement-building space” on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill. Its website proclaims that “[g]roups and individuals are encouraged to use the COMMONS for workshops, classes, educational and cultural events.” Along with the meeting space, The Brooklyn Commons has a cafe that serves coffee, sweet and savory treats, beer and wine, and more.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The space is larger than appears from the street.  There is a seating area and counter in the front  and a large dining and meeting space in the back. The seating space in the front isn’t horribly loud but it is noticeably louder than the back room due to the presence of a flat screen tv, background music, and a door open to busy Atlantic Avenue, where the occasional ambulance screams by. The magic is in the back room.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Ah, the back room.  It’s a large space filled with tables, mostly for two, and ringed by an elevated bench running along the perimeter of the room. Five people sat in various places throughout the space during our visit, each working  quietly on his or her laptop. It was bliss. We could just hear the music, tv, and traffic from the front, but the sound was distant and muffled and it did not disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the back.

What is the soundscape like when if the space is packed? We don’t know, but we are willing to return to find out. It’s presumably louder when there is a crowd, as we could see board games tucked away under the benches in the back.  And since The Brooklyn Commons offers art, educational, and music activities, it’s best to assume that is much louder during a workshop or performance. But during the day, when the cafe is open, the space should be calm and quiet.

If you are wandering around Boerum Hill and looking for a restful spot for a coffee or nosh, we recommend a visit to this relaxed and peaceful spot.

HOURS

The Commons Cafe is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. Bond and Hoyt Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

The Brooklyn Commons

Once Upon A Tart — 70.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We wandered over to Soho’s Once Upon A Tart for a quick lunch early in the week. Once Upon A Tart consists of a coffee and bake shop in one space, and a small restaurant in the space next door.  Our review is limited to the restaurant.

About half of the tables were filled when we arrived.  There was music playing in the background–jazz standards–which was a bit loud at first, but the second song was much quieter.  Whether the volume was tolerable depended, in large part, on whether the song featured a horn section.  If yes, the sound bounced around the live space, if not, it was fine.  We aren’t sure but we suspect that the volume was lowered as the tables filled up.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There are five stools lining a bar and eight tables for two plus one larger table for about six in the restaurant.  Design choices result in a fairly live space: terrazzo floor, tin ceiling, glass windows  lining the front, and a couple of large mirrors on both side walls.  It didn’t help that the front door was open to street noise.  That said, Sullivan Street isn’t heavily trafficked so our meal wasn’t interrupted by loud sirens or insecure motorcyclists, but as the restaurant is located between Houston and Prince Streets we could hear the faint roar of the traffic from a half block away.

The reading also reflects the sound emanating from a fellow customer who talked on her phone the entire time.  She was so engrossed in conversation that she even ignored her meal.  Circumstances like that add to the soundscape, but they are arbitrary and, thankfully, not normal. Personally, we find it hard to fault the restaurant for this behavior, as it can be uncomfortable to ask a customer to refrain from cell phone use unless they have a very public policy against cell phone use (rare, but we spotted a sign asking customers to refrain from cell phone use at a downtown restaurant).

In the end, while the space was not calming or serene, it was tolerable.  Given that Once Upon A Tart is located in the thick of Soho, where there are very few reasonably priced eating options, it’s fine.

HOURS

Restaurant: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day

Coffee and Bake Shop:

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. W. Houston and Prince Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Once Upon A Tart

Everyman Espresso (Soho) — 69.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is smaller than the East Village location.  Only a couple of chairs at two small tables and a few benches are available for seating, but they were more than enough to accommodate all who entered on a Thursday evening.

LIke the East Village location, the espresso machine in this location of Everyman Espresso was one of the quietest we’ve experienced.  We assume that Everyman uses special noise-sensitive machines, or maybe it’s because the espresso maker was situated so that the noise making elements face away from the seating area (similar to the East Village location).  Whatever the reason, it is appreciated, particularly since many of the surfaces are hard and more than capable of bouncing the sound around the small space.  Wood slats on the ceiling may have helped deflect sound, but other than a couple of mats on the floor (probably there temporarily to sop up rain), there were no textiles or softer materials to absorb sound.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We liked this location as much as the East Village spot, but note that since it is smaller it doesn’t have a restroom (the East Village location does).  That aside, the Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is a nice little niche of serenity near chaotic Canal Street.  It’s worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. Canal and Grand Streets, closer to Canal), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso (Soho)

East One Coffee Roaster — 73.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by East One Coffee Roaster one Sunday afternoon as we meandered around Carroll Gardens, one of our favorite parts of Brooklyn. Despite the relatively quiet streets, the place was bustling. East One Coffee Roaster, the Brooklyn outpost of a London coffee shop, sits on the corner of Court and Carroll Streets. It has a large coffee shop in the front of its space and an even larger dining room in the back. Although the coffee shop was pretty packed when we arrived, there were a few seats available.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We’ve noticed recently that some coffee shops are designating various areas within their space as “no laptop zones.”  East One is no exception. In fact, we sat in one of the two laptop-free  zones (and must confess that we occasionally looked furtively at a smart phone, which may have violated the spirit of the zone but not the directive). Essentially, East One, like other coffee spots, doesn’t want to become a caffeinated version of WeWork.  That said, laptops were visible, but the laptoppers were outnumbered by the couples or groups engaging in conversation.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The doors and windows of the place were open to the street, but since this part of Court Street doesn’t get a lot of traffic, it was fine.  Music was playing and it was a bit louder than we liked, but it was manageable.  We liked the space, finding it comfortable.  Except for waiting a little longer than expected for our coffee–the  sole barista was distracted–our visit was perfectly pleasant.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Given the heavy embrace of industrial design elements (e.g., lots of glass, a cement floor, etc.), we had expected an echo chamber but were pleasantly surprised that the room didn’t feel live. The ceiling of rough-hewn, though painted, wooden boards probably helped to diffuse the sound. Our guess is that the designer opted to paint the ceiling joists rather than cover them with wall board. It looked attractive and no doubt helps to control the sound level, so kudos for the clever design.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We checked out the back dining space and saw that it looked roomy and had a slightly quieter soundscape.  It was, however, mostly empty.  It too was heavy on the usual design elements, so proceed with caution if crowded.

Overall, we highly recommend a visit to East One Coffee Roaster. The space was attractive, and we enjoyed our coffees.  And while we wouldn’t say no to turning down the music, the soundscape was perfectly respectable despite being a very crowded space.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday:  9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

(Hours are for coffee shop. Dining space opens at 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.)

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Carroll Street), Brooklyn, NY 11231

WEBSITE

East One Coffee Roaster

The Little Sweet Cafe — 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Little Sweet Cafe is a self-described “taste of France” in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. It was very quiet when we stopped by on a Monday morning.  Most of the other customers were getting coffee and treats to go, but eventually all four tables and the three stools hugging a shelf were taken.

Even after the placed filled up, the space was comfortable. Jazz played softly in the background, and the volume was fine though the music was unnecessary. The place would have been perfect without it and could have easily clocked in at under 70 decibels.  But even with the music the reading was perfectly fine, and it was easy to have a conversation.  Except for when the barista was making espresso drinks, and a mercifully short visit by a mother and toddler, both of whom were speaking very loudly to each other, the soundscape was mostly mellow.

The Little Sweet Cafe offers a variety of coffees, pastries, and crepes, with a few savory options at lunch.  It was a tad noisier during the morning rush, but quickly calmed down afterwards.  Recommended.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Atlantic Avenue and State Street), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

The Little Sweet Cafe

Dot & Line — 74.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Dot & Line is a new coffee shop in a coffee shop-poor part of Brooklyn, Boreum Hill.  We visited on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  The space is fairly small–there are only three stools by the front window–but as it wasn’t crowded when we arrived, we had our coffee there.

The coffee was very good, and the barista could not have been nicer.  The only downside was the music. The volume was louder than we liked, and it increased when someone’s favorite song came on.  But–and important but–after the volume increased the barista asked if the music was too loud for us.  Imagine that?  While we would have preferred if it was lowered, we let it slide as no one else seemed to mind, but we were thrilled that lowering the volume was an option.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Although there is limited seating, the place was busy during our visit as there were a lot of customers who stopped in to get coffees to go.  The weather was particularly pleasant so both the window and front door were open, letting in the not so not bucolic sounds of Bergen Street.  But it wasn’t that bad.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, we were able to read a book and it appeared that for the others conversation was easy.  Yes, it could be quieter, but it’s not a place to linger and work on your laptop–there’s not enough room for that.  So in the end, the very good coffee and fabulous service tip the scales in favor of a visit. Dot & Line offers a limited menu of sweet and savory treats that appear to be very popular.  If you are in Boerum Hill, we recommend that you check it out.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd Avenue and Nevins Street), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Dot & Line