We were wandering around Chelsea and jonesing for a coffee when we spotted Cafe Grumpy. We’ve read that it was known for good coffee, so we stopped in. There was music playing a bit louder than we liked in the front of the space where you order, but as we soon discovered, the place is a lot bigger than it looks from the street.
One thing we noticed immediately is that there weren’t many laptops visible. Then we saw a sign by the cash register stating that the cafe is a “no laptop zone.” When asked, the server told me they “aren’t Nazis about it” but they want to cultivate a “social place.” Still, while I didn’t see laptops deployed on tables, I did see that most people were by themselves reading or writing.
Since the front of the space was louder than we liked, we went to down the long narrow corridor connecting the front to a back room that was noticeably quieter. We had our coffee in this space, finding it basically calm though we could hear someone washing dishes in the nearby dish room. There are french doors at the very end of the space that open on to an absolutely serene garden. How serene? You can hear birdsong.
If you are in Chelsea and want a coffee and a really quiet space, go to Cafe Grumpy, avoid the front space, walk to the back room, and don’t stop until you are in the garden. It was lovely. Sadly, the Xelerator hand dryer in bathroom is not.
Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
224 W. 20th Street (betw. 7th and 8th Avenues), New York, NY 10011