As a Pacific Northwest native, I just had to check out the coffee offerings of Boston. Since Boston is America’s college town, I was expecting some top-notch coffeeshops both in terms of the drinks and the study atmosphere. For me, it’s never just about the coffee (I could make it at home), but about the whole package. Here are the coffeeshops of Boston, ranked:
5. Neighborhoods Coffee and Crepes
I went here my first day in Boston since it’s close by in our Fenway neighborhood. The latte was huge and pretty good, though they don’t have free WiFi. It’s not the kind of place with hip, curated blends, but it was a nice place to relax. You’ll have to go and try a crepe and tell me how it is. Neighborhoods wasn’t bad per se, but it just wasn’t memorable or a destination.
4. Pavement Coffeehouse
Honestly, Pavement is low on the list in terms of service and drink quality, but I like its chic and modern setting and the fact that it has free WiFi. It’s a good spot to write your book, as it’s the most hipster coffee shop I visited.
However, I asked the cashier how strong their espresso tonic was and he gave a curt response that it has two shots of espresso. (I later saw him sipping iced coffee while taking customers’ orders, so what kind of service is that?). I opted for the $4 latte, which came in a to go container even though he didn’t ask me if it was for here or to go (hint: it was for here). So I sat at their cute cafe tables drinking from a plain white paper cup—it didn’t even have their logo on it. For me, coffee is about the experience and that was a bad one. On top of that, the coffee was extremely bitter even when I added sugar. It had a sour aftertaste; no coffee should require more than one packet of sugar. I feel like I could maybe give Pavement another chance, but this trip was disappointing.
3. Thinking Cup
I stopped by the Thinking Cup near the Boston Common on Tremont, and I also have checked out their Newbury Street location. The Newbury shop is sort of underground and it’s packed.
I like the atmosphere of the Tremont shop more—I went in during a rainy day to work remotely. I got a shot of espresso and added a bit of milk and sugar myself just to get the rich flavor. It wasn’t bitter nor off-putting, and I had a really pleasant experience just enjoying my drink on their bar stools at the counter while watching people with umbrellas stream by outside. Beware, there’s no WiFi, so I had to use my hotspot at Thinking Cup.
2. Caffè Nero
Caffè Nero is a great, dark study spot. It has hanging lightbulbs inside its downtown crossing location, along with a fireplace and couches. The macchiato is simple with just foam on top, but affordable for about $2. Iced coffee and other espresso drinks are more expensive at about $4. I liked the Hogwarts-y atmosphere of the coffeeshop, and it seemed like it had the most expertise of the five shops—they’re Italian coffee connoisseurs.
1. Tatte Bakery and Cafe
Tatte was my favorite coffeeshop in Boston. The first time I went was in Harvard Square, which is a huge two-story space with wooden tables for communal eating. Tatte has brunch all day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, which you can’t really beat. I found their coffee to be a little bitter or watery and not as rich as I would have liked. At Harvard, I ordered a poached egg, spinach and cheese sandwich on challah for about $5—it’s one of the cheapest food items on the menu.
Tatte is the most bougie of the coffeeshops—it’s the Alfred of Boston. It’s light and sunny with that wooden fairyland aesthetic crossed with a deli, due to the white and black tiled floors. They have a huge range of pastries from pear tarts to kouign amann. I’ve tried their prosciutto brioche with pesto and cheese, which was a delicious quick lunch, though not a stand-out homemade pastry. While pastries range from about $4-$6, the salads and sandwiches are about $11-$13. Tatte is very picturesque and has a variety of seating options. It feels similar to Le Pain Quotidien.
I’ve also been twice to their Beacon Hill location, tucked on a corner of the bricky Charles Street in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Boston. Tatte has outdoor picnic tables as well as bar stools and tables inside. The desserts look gorgeous with individual-sized chocolate cakes and tarts. I tried their coconut chocolate cloud, which is like a giant crunchy meringue with a creamy, oozy filling. It was a sweet treat, but too big of a portion for one to awkwardly bite into. Break it in half and share.
And then, of course, there’s the classic Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee with cream and sugar… So which is your favorite coffeeshop in Boston?