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

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

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

Café Regular — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Café Regular on a Friday afternoon. There was one other customer sitting and enjoying a coffee at the start of our visit; most people were getting coffees to go. The only sound we heard at first were voices, mainly staff chatting with each other and with regulars.  A few minutes in and music starting playing, but the volume wasn’t bad at all–it was truly background music.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel reading reflects that there was an extended period of bean grinding near our table.  Without that it’s likely that the reading would have clocked in at under 70 decibels. Bean grinding aside, we thought that the soundscape was very manageable.

Importantly, the design of the space should insure a comfortable noise level at most times. Namely, the way in which the seating is arranged encourages solo visits. There are a handful of small tables that are reminiscent of elementary school desks–they would be awkward for a party of more than two.  Simply put, the space isn’t designed for large chatty groups.  Not a bad thing, to be frank.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, we recommend a visit to Café Regular.  It was a laid back space with very good coffee and relaxed service. Ulike many coffee only places, Cafe Regular has a restroom available for customers.

HOURS

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 (near 5th Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11215

WEBSITE

Cafe Regular

Almondine Bakery — 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We believe that Almondine makes the best baguette in the city, so when we were in Dumbo recently we had to stop by and pick up a couple for later.   And since we were there, we stayed for a quick lunch.

Almondine offers a nice selection of savory items–sandwiches, soups, and quiche.  It also has lovely croissants, cakes and tarts, and the best fruit danish in town.  Really, just order the danish (it’s half-apricot, half-pear, and totally fabulous).  On the weekends raspberry beignets are available.  If you are there when they are freshly made the scent of raspberries washes over the entire space, and you’ll agree that the it’s worth a trip to Dumbo for the beignets alone.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Almondine’s decor sports a lot of glass, metal, and brick,  and yet the small space is mostly comfortable. In fact, the reading was higher than we expected but was probably due to two cranky toddlers who were subject, along with the rest of us, to an endless parental rant. The reason the space was comfortable was that there was no music playing.  Even a live space can be comfortable if there is no music, and Almondine proves it.  As a result, we can easily recommend you stop in for a nosh at any time.

So definitely stop by Almondine if you are in Dumbo.  Have a coffee and a quiche, and don’t forget to grab a baguette or two (and a fruit danish) on the way out the door.  You’ll thank us.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Main and Dock Streets), Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Almondine Bakery.

Brooklyn Roasting Company (Dumbo Headquarters) — 70.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the Jay Street location of Brooklyn Roasting Company on a late Saturday afternoon and found it very busy but relaxed.  This location is the company’s headquarters and “roastery,” so there is a lot of space.  Large bags of green coffee beans were piled artistically around the space.  It was a bit disconcerting to see some people use them as seating, but they seemed to serve that purpose.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Because it’s a big space so you should always be able to find a relatively quiet corner.  Something that is almost guaranteed as it’s very popular with people who are beavering away on their computers.  In fact, there are always lots of laptop brigade members here, which is always a good sign.

Music played softly in the background during our visit, but as it was truly in the background we did not mind.  The coffee, unsurprisingly, is excellent and reasonably priced for Dumbo.  It should be, since they roast their own beans and sell them.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We highly recommended this location of Brooklyn Roasting Company.  There usually are savory and sweet snacks on offer, but the cupboard was a bit bare in the late afternoon.  We remember their version of a pop tart with some fondness, so if you want a snack to go with your coffee try visiting a little earlier in the day.

If you like the feeling of a big lofty space in the middle of a very industrial looking part of Brooklyn–a Con Ed transmission substation is across the street–you will be in your element.   The Dumbo location of Brooklyn Roasting Company is well worth a visit.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of John Street), Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Brooklyn Roasting Company

Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Maman — 74.1 to 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Maman is a French-American bakery/coffee shop/cafe located on Centre Street in Nolita.  There are sister locations downtown and in Greenpoint, a couple of which have more extensive menus; the Centre Street location has sweet and savory breakfast items, pastries, tarts, and a nice selection of lunch offerings (salads, sandwiches, and quiche).

On our first visit to Maman, we found the space to be mostly calm.  There was music playing in the front of the space by the kitchen, but that area is divided off from the back seating area by a  glass partition.  Unfinished wood floors and some plants help to keep the space from being too live.  Chatty friends sat near us as we lingered over coffee, but they weren’t too distracting.  There was, however, an industrial vent that ran constantly throughout our visit.  While it was not loud, it did provide a low background hum during the whole of our visit.   It wasn’t terrible, and in an odd way it sort of operated like white noise, but it’s something to note if you find low rumbling noises to be distracting or uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We arrived for our second visit slightly after 2:00 p.m.; the meter clocked in slightly higher than the first visit, at 74.8 decibels.  Once again we found the space to be very comfortable, despite it being noticeably more crowded than our first visit.  About half of the seats were taken when we arrived, then a couple got up and left.  They  were replaced by a group of six co-workers who sat down at the large communal table where we were seated and began discussing a work project.  Nearby, two friends chatted and laughed their way through lunch.  This time, however, the vent noise wasn’t as noticeable.  Perhaps it is more pronounced in the colder months?  We aren’t sure, and, for the most part, it really doesn’t matter.  As with our first visit, and despite the chatty couple and the work party, the space was absolutely comfortable.

Overall, we enjoyed our visits to Maman.  The space would have been even nicer if the music volume were a little lower, but our visits on the whole were pleasant.

Maman offers very good coffee and a fairly extensive selection of sweet and savory treats in an attractive space, which is hard to find in this neighborhood.  Definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Maman

Filicori Zecchini (Upper West Side) — 80.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were wandering around the Upper West Side, enjoying a constitutional after a lovely meal at Ayurveda Cafe (to be reviewed soon), when we spied Filicori Zecchini.  We fondly remembered visiting their Chelsea location last year and eagerly went inside.  What a disappointment.  It quickly became clear that this space was not at all like the Chelsea location, which we remembered as a calm oasis (and reading our review later, saw that despite being crowded, the Chelsea location clocked in at a  very comfortable 72.4 decibels). No, this location was loud and uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Why? They were playing loud music in a live box. The front of the store is a wall of glass.  The floors are tiled, the counter area was covered with some shiny, hard surface, and the bean grinding and espresso machines were loud.  Throw in the other customers screaming over all of the above and you have the recipe for not very comfortable experience.

Speaking of experience, we also were confused/amused by a little interchange with the barista.  We had ordered a cortado.  On ordering, the barista said, “oh, water comes with this.  Would you like some.”  “Sure, ” we replied.  And then the barista poured sparkling water into a one-ounce jigger glass.  No, really.  He poured us an ounce of sparkling water.

We’d rather have a tasty cortado and mouthful of sparkling water at Zecchini’s Chelsea location.  This one should be avoided.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

(at the corner of 95th Street), New York, NY 10025

WEBSITE

Filicori Zecchini

 

Cafe Grumpy (Chelsea) — 68.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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.

HOURS

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.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 7th and 8th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Cafe Grumpy — Chelsea