Meeting over coffee is a central tenant of American society, so it makes sense that many of our favorite American TV shows feature a cast of characters held together by the occasional (or even not-so-occasional) cup. Here, we take a look at some of our favorite sitcoms and the starring role of the coffee shop:
Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld
Many of life’s biggest questions, as well as some of the smallest, were deliberated over a simple cup of coffee at Monk’s Cafe on the television show Seinfeld. Modeled after a real restaurant in New York’s Upper West Side, Monk’s Cafe was a studio recreation of the city’s fabled greasy spoon diners, colloquially called “coffee shops.” Once a ubiquitous facet of city life, these diners served basic, American comfort food (and coffee), and often selections from the proprietors’ home countries, many of whom emigrated from places such as Greece. If you’d like to see the famous facade yourself, head to Tom’s Restaurant at 112th St and Broadway.
Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls
Coffee was essentially a main character in Gilmore Girls, and I’m willing to bet that if you grew up watching the mother/daughter duo, you’ve day-dreamt about Luke’s cooking and the best coffee in Stars Hollow. The series opens with a scene in the diner and remains a focal point throughout the series; viewers watch relationships form (and sometimes disintegrate) within the former hardware shop’s walls.
As appropriate for Lorelei’s tastes, she passed on her coffee addiction to Rory, and the basis of their relationship is formed around many of their heart-to-hearts over coffee. Plus, what better location than the diner to watch Luke’s arguments with Kirk play out, especially when they involve cars crashing into the shop. Perhaps if we could drink coffee with them, we could talk just as fast!
(PSA: In case you’ve been living under a rock, this series and our next pick are both on Netflix in their entirety.)
Central Perk from Friends
Of course, our fictional coffee shop list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Central Perk, the preferred hangout spot for Monica, Joey, Chandler, Rachel, Ross and Phoebe. From renditions of Smelly Cat to discussions on break-ups and make-ups, Central Perk was a foundation for all ten seasons. Ever wonder why the group was always able to snag prime real estate in the shop? Look closely in the first few seasons — you’ll always see a “reserved” sign somewhere on the table.
For the show’s 20th anniversary last year, Warner Bros celebrated by creating a pop-up version of the cafe at Lafayette and Broome. Fans were able to grab a cup of coffee from the iconic shop, sit on the big orange couch, and if they were lucky, got to meet our favorite barista of the 90s, none other than Gunther (James Michael Tyler) himself.
Cafe Grumpy from Girls
Okay, so technically, the coffee shop in HBO’s series Girls is not a fictional location. Hannah and her friends frequent the Greenpoint outpost of Cafe Grumpy, which exists true-to-form at 193 Meserole, off of the Nassau G stop. Of course, you probably won’t have your coffee served to you by Ray or hear a duet between Marnie and Desi, but hey, you never know. It is New York City, after all.