As the weather gets warmer, Bostonians continue to consume copious amounts of fine coffee; many simply switch from hot to iced. Fortunately, however you like it, a good cup of coffee is never far away in The Hub. Whether you’re a student in need of a caffeine jolt, an aficionado looking for the latest in latte concoctions, or just someone who enjoys a sit-down at a nice cafe, there’s a coffee shop for you. The best coffee purveyors in Boston feature top-notch beans and the kind of welcoming atmospheres (and free Wifi) that make you want to pull up a chair and spend the afternoon. Give yourself a jolt before heading to one of the best places for pie, best donut shops, best breakfast spots or brunch spots in Boston.
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A coffee legend we love so much that we welcomed him into Time Out Market
Between the expansive seating, subway tiles, and overall sophistication of the space, you’re forgiven for thinking you’ve walked into a bistro. Industry veteran George Howell has quite the resume, and his outlet inside the Godfrey Hotel provides an excellent spot for focusing on the beans of his labor. There’s a massive marble bar, two espresso machines, coffee education classes, a retail corner for purchasing brewing equipment and beans, and a menu of upscale treats. But the coffee drinks still reign supreme, including specialty drinks like The Original (a frozen blend of coffee, milk and sugar).
George Howell has revolutionized the specialty coffee industry since the 1970s with his artisan small-batch roasted coffee. This award-winning, Boston-based coffee expert—founder of The Coffee Connection, inventor of the Frappuccino—celebrates the craftsmanship of his farm partners in his quest for the ultimate cup. Market guests get to choose from George Howell Coffee’s signature menu of batch brewed single-farm coffees as well as a selection of micro-lot coffees on a single-cup pour over bar. In addition to a full range of espresso-based drinks, enjoy seasonal coffee-based mocktails and a full line of pastries and desserts from bakeries Seven Stars and Praline.
Best coffee shops in Boston
In many ways, this is the grand dame of Cambridge’s many coffeehouses. The venue simultaneously introduced Cantabrigians to great coffee and a great coffeehouse scene; suddenly it was okay to savor a latte over a chapter book, or to sip your third cup while toiling over an early-era MacBook. And the cozy, narrow, neighborly Inman Square institution has actually managed to thrive in the Starbucks era, with a second, just as popular branch in Central Square.
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. By serving Stumptown coffee, Thinking Cup is the best choice if you’re within spitting distance of the Boston Common. Keep an eye on the expert baristas as they produce Instagram-worthy lattes.
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. There are no tables, but you can pick up an espresso to go—the drinks produced by 4A’s rare Slayer machine taste as rich as you’d expect from something that costs $18,000.
This Japanese coffee chain’s first international branch gives downtown office workers a solid option for exquisitely crafted cups of coffee. There are also light sandwiches and Asian sweet treats. Soothingly creamy hot chocolate is made with whole milk, heavy cream, and melted pungent Carupano dark chocolate; it’s topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cacao powder. There’s also a spicy version with a subtle chili kick.
barismo appeals to aficionados. This lab-style coffeebar offers little space to linger—but the reason most patrons come in is the fresh coffee, brewed one cup at a time. The company prides itself on its transparent sourcing, and its attention to detail during the roasting and brewing processes. The engaging baristas are experts at their craft and usually eager to talk shop.
Change up your morning routine and get your caffeine fix at this petite specialty cafe in the heart of Davis Square. Nine Bar Espresso serves locally roasted Gracenote coffee and specialty loose-leaf teas, as well as fresh pastries and small bites. Say goodbye to burnt-tasting coffee and hello to carefully crafted, high quality drinks.
The second-floor South End cafe is a sanctum for caffeinated locals reluctant to give up their seats. Coffee is the first and primary order of business here, with beans sourced from local roasters and transformed into Americanos, cortados and cold brews. Nab a table by one of the windows in the back room cupola; if you’re lucky, a chair on the shaded patio will eventually open up.
This tiny coffee shop lures you in with scratch-made goodies like muffins, scones and cookies, plus kind customer service and a small menu of salads and sandwiches. But it’s the cafe’s devotion to top-level barista work that is its biggest attraction. All of the espresso drinks are made with carefully selected beans (often from New England roasters) and farm-sourced dairy; the foam art alone will make you a regular.
Your search for hip, high-quality artisan coffee is over. Say hello to Gracenote Coffee Roasters, an independent roastery and cafe that brews and serves their own locally roasted beans. Sip a perfectly creamy cappuccino or knock back a shot of espresso and admire the petrified wood counters, old-school manual espresso machine and various plants hanging from the ceiling.
This hole-in-the wall coffee spot may be easy to miss, as it resides just a few doors down from the largest Tatte location in Boston, but its artistic lattes and sleek interior are eye-catching. Located inside the grandiose 125 Summer Street office building, Kohi Coffee Co. is a petit independent cafe proudly serving craft coffee and baked goods. It even has a small walk-up window outside for those who need a quick caffeine fix on the go.
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 twenty-somethings in addition to top-notch coffee?
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 serves a ton of food and drink options, and many young locals chill the day away over sustainably-sourced coffee. Circle around to the far side of the coffee bar and you’ll notice a massive bank vault, where you can enjoy a drink while feeling like you’re in on a heist.
In-the-know students and coffee fanatics head to Harvard Square for a taste of San Francisco’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee. Loyal customers enjoy coffee drinks made-to-order from freshly roasted, mostly organic beans. Iced coffee fans are well-served, as Blue Bottle is renowned for its New Orleans-style preparation, fortified with chicory. The minimalist environs place the spotlight on the baristas in action.
For authentic Italian espresso-based drinks, head to Eataly in the Prudential Center. Caffè Lavazza serves gourmet coffee and housemade pastries that will transport you to Italy and fuel you up for a shopping spree through the retail aisles packed with Italian delights.
This sprawling, airy brasserie features contemporary French fare in spirited environs on the upper level. The downstairs, street-level cafe is open daily for a quick sandwich, indulgent house-made croissants and pastries, and gourmet coffee. Emjoy your joe on the seasonal outdoor patio in warmer weather.