After ordering multiple replacement coils off eBay and swapping them, I found that the coil itself was not the issue. The most common issue is with the connector on the motherboard (I believe it's referred to as the NFC FPC connector). There are videos of specialists microsoldering a new connector on the Note on YouTube to fix the problem (VCC repairs IIRC). The reason pushing on the spot below the camera works is because you're forcing a good contact between the coil cable and the connector and the connector and the motherboard. I saw on eBay there are people offering to replace and resolder the connector for around $60. But I tried something given my new understanding of the issue that seems to have completely fixed this (for now at least). If it comes back, I'll just pay the $60. Here's what I did:
-follow the ifixit guide to replace the coil.
-But don't actually replace it
-Just unscrew the metal plate and fold it back
-Then, cut some cardstock the size of the connector and place it on top of the coil cable that is plugged into the connector
-Rescrew the metal plate
-The metal plate with cardstock between it and the cable/connector should now be applying consistent downward pressure on the spot to ensure good contact
-before you replace the back cover, plug it in and see that it charges. You can also test wireless charging since that seems more sensitive to a good connection.
-If all is good, close up the phone and you're done. If not, maybe add another piece of cardstock in between to increase the pressure.
Hope this helps others!