The best Boston coffee shops and cafés

Need coffee? Need coffee now? Kick back with a rejuvenating java at one of these superior Boston cafés and coffee shops.



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The best coffee shops and cafés in Boston: Thinking Cup

The best coffee shops and cafés in Boston: Thinking Cup Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

It may have been christened "Beantown" on account of the baked variety, but Boston can't get enough coffee beans. Like any other major city with a fair share of wind-chilled, under-slept professionals, the Hub boasts a plethora of cafés that have high-quality espresso, extensive tea selections, cozy atmospheres and (on occasion) pool tables. The best Boston coffee shops and cafés don't just offer java. You'll find obscure magazines, weekly trivia nights and a humble cup of joe at cult favorite Trident in the Back Bay. Get a fair-trade cup with local baked goods at Equal Exchange Café in the North End. And then there's the seatless, coffee-snob haven barismo in Arlington, and iced bucketfuls of hyper-flavored coffee-like concoctions at Dorchester's PS Gourmet. Latte lovers who also like art galleries should stop by cool hybrid Voltage Coffee & Art in Kendall Square.

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Andala Coffee House

Andala is a Central Square gem along River Street, just off from well-trod establishments like 1369 and Atomic Bean. Homey and shockingly deserted, this Middle Eastern spot is what Café Algiers might look like if it wasn't in the middle of overcrowded Harvard Square... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 286 Franklin Street, Central Square
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You're not a true aficionado until you've visited barismo. It's a stand-up place, quite literally: no seats, no tables—just fresh coffee, brewed one cup at a time. This type of European-style coffee bar is all the rage in New York, but this is one of the only seat-less spots in our neck of the woods... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 169 Massachusetts Avenue
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PS Gourmet Coffee

Screw “venti” and “tall.” PS Gourmet has two sizes: small, and “the bucket.” This charmingly unpretentious South Boston haunt has tasty iced coffee selections, featuring such flavor infusions as Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Caramel Kiss. The popular PS Special is a cinnamon-dusted hazelnut mocha... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 106 Dorchester Street
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Voltage Coffee & Art

Blame it on the alcohol: owner Lucy Valena started a mobile espresso bar back in 2008 thanks to a loan from the Sam Adams Brewery. Her venture has since morphed into a brick-and-mortar shop that doubles as an art gallery. (Exhibitions generally run for six weeks at a time.)... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 295 3rd Street, Kendall Square
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Equal Exchange Café

You can't get more crunchy-granola conscientious than this organic, fair-trade North End café. Expect a label denoting the place of origin for almost every menu item, including the coffee beans, which come from as far afield as Nicaragua and Uganda. The food is entirely local, with sandwiches from the Biscuit... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 226 Causeway Street, North End
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Trident Booksellers & Café

In a sea of chains, Trident remains a tried-and-true standby for the more indie-minded of Boston’s over-caffeinated literary nerds. The magazine selection is peerless—art zines, obscure trade publications… and is that a Spanish edition of Foreign Affairs? The city has plenty of spots that brew a better cup of joe... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 338 Newbury Street, at Hereford Street
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Diesel Cafe

Any Somerville sipper worth their salt has stopped by this Davis Square destination at some point. What other café can lay claim to a pool table, a black-and-white photo booth and a highly entertaining people-watching scene of Tuftsies and twentysomethings? The spot is aggressively green... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 257 Elm Street, Davis Square
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Ula Café

Remember when coffeeshops were places to converse rather than simply plug in and tune out with a laptop? Ula's relaxed atmosphere helps maintain that “café as public sphere” ethos. The staff occasionally shuts down its free Wi-Fi during peak hours... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 284 Armory Street, at the Brewery Complex
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Helmed by a husband-and-wife team that roast their own beans, this homey Coolidge Corner enclave is known for attentive service, a spotless atmosphere and premium blends. 4A stamps their beans with the exact roasting date, so you know just how fresh they are... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 419 Harvard Street
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Bloc 11

Somerville seems to have a thing for repurposing stodgy old buildings and turning them into hip social spaces. (Exhibit A: the castle-turned-cultural center known as the Armory.) This Union Square café may not seem all that distinct when you first walk in the door: we’re talking sustainably-sourced coffee... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 11 Bow Street, Union Square
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Bom Cafe

Adding some Latin flavor to the Camberville scene, this unpretentious Brazilian spot sports strong coffee and tasty treats ranging from the “Pão de Queijo,”a warm cheese bread, to omelettes with fried yucca and special hot sauce. The homemade fruit smoothies are a treat too... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 1093 Cambridge Street
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This tiny Italian-owned coffee-seller doesn’t actually serve java to go, but you can’t beat its charm, friendliness and amazing variety of high-quality roasts. Original owner Mr. Polcari and his son Bobby consider themselves museum owners more than baristas, dedicated to preserving the mantle of the neighborhood corner store... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 105 Salem Street, North End
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Thinking Cup

Among an unending sea of cafés serving drip-coffee in styrofoam, it’s refreshing to sip a rich pour-over out of a stout ceramic mug. Serving Portland’s famed Stumptown Coffee, Thinking Cup is definitely the best choice if you’re within spitting distance of the Boston Common... By Adam Conner-Simons

  1. 165 Tremont Street
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