Lucid Cafe’s Iced Coffee Packs a Frosty Jolt

When it comes to coffee, I’m a utilitarian. If all I need is a jolt to sustain me through a long workday, I have no problem choking down a cup of black sludge from the office coffeemaker. But when the summer heat hits, I have to grab an iced coffee on my way to work. For my money, coffee is just better on ice. And at Lucid Cafe (Lex btw. 37th+38th), they’re making it right.

We’ve noted in the past that Lucid Cafe is one of a few spots in Midtown where you can get cold-brewed coffee. As this helpful article from Eater explains, cold-brewed coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. The process yields a coffee that’s smooth and strong, and much less acidic than a traditional brew. That’s exactly how I’d describe Lucid Cafe’s iced coffee. It’s simultaneously mellow but intense, with a deep, round coffee flavor. No milk or cream is needed, just a good dose of sugar.

And sugar is another thing that Lucid Cafe does right. (Did you know it’s possible to do sugar wrong?) Instead of giving you regular sugar that won’t dissolve in your drink no matter how hard you stir, they have a bottle of simple syrup to pour, which mixes effortlessly with the coffee.

The one drawback to Lucid Cafe’s coffee is the price. A small (12 oz) iced coffee costs $2.75, medium (16 oz) costs $3.25, and large (20 oz) costs $3.75. Like I said before, I’m not a big coffee drinker, so I don’t know how these prices compare to others, but they seem a bit high to me. That said, it’s well worth it, in my opinion.

In addition to the coffee, Lucid Cafe also has a small selection of pastries made on premises, plus a few breakfast items like oatmeal and yogurt. I tried out a chocolate almond croissant and was impressed. The croissant was crispy and flaky on the outside, studded with sliced almonds and dusted with powdered sugar, but moist and soft on the inside, with melted shards of good dark chocolate scattered throughout. Priced at around $3.50 (I didn’t see a price and my receipt wasn’t itemized, so that’s just an estimate) I’d eat that for breakfast again.

If you’re a fan of iced coffee, I’d recommend you skip the Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and give Lucid Cafe a shot.

Lucid Cafe, 311 Lexington Ave. (btw. 37th+38th), (212) 867-3490


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Cold brew iced coffee is usually around 4 bucks…what beans are they using?

    • Five bucks says it’s one of the Kyoto-style iced coffee things, the mash-up of Rube Goldberg and Bong Design 201: Advanced Crazy-Straw Bong Architecture dropouts.

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        Nah the contraption is too obvious that you can’t not take a picture as a blogger. Probably using a toddy for cold brew, that’s what most coffee shops use.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I’m pretty sure they use Counter Culture beans.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Yup, they use Counter Culture beans and have local milk delivered daily. Friendly staff too.

    Another place to try (though a little more out of the way) is Perk Kafe on 37th between 3rd and Lex, closer to 3rd. Just opened and seems to be in direct competition for the high-end coffee business in the neighborhood. I think they use Stumptown beans, but for some reason their coffee always tastes a little watered down/weak to me.

  • Another great iced coffee option (for the DIYers out there) that is fast, easy and smooth is to use an Aeropress. It makes a small espresso-strength serving of coffee, to which you add more hot water for a ‘regular’ cup. But, add sugar and/or milk to taste, then add a bit of cold water and ice, and you get a killer cup/mug of iced coffee. This coffee also tastes more like the “cold brew” type–very smooth, and makes so-so beans taste better than they should. You need just a little water, 3-4oz, so it’s fast. Just follow the directions (e.g. water should be below boiling, around 180-190 deg; adding a big splash of cold water to boiling water does the trick.) As a long-time coffee fan with a grad degree in chemical engineering, this is my go-to coffee prep method for hot or cold.

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