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Barismo
© Michael Ascanio Peguero

The best coffee shops in Boston to try right now

From quick, Italian-style espresso to cozy cups made for sitting and sipping, here's where to get the best buzz in Boston.

Written by
Jillian Dara
Written by
Eric Grossman
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In Boston, nothing warms you up faster than a strong cuppa joe in the winter, or cools you down faster in the summer than a classic, iced coffee (and the true New Englander may argue that the latter is a year-round way of life). Though prolific coffee chains (we’re looking at you, Dunks) ensure that you’re never too far from satiating your caffeine craving, there are a number of cafes and coffee houses worth seeking out for a change of scenery. Here are some of our favorite places to grab the best coffee in Boston. And if you take your java with food, be sure to check out the best donut shops, best breakfast spots or brunch spots in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best coffee shops in Boston

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Inman Sq
  • price 1 of 4

In many ways, 1369 Coffee House is the grand dame of Cambridge’s many coffeehouses. The venue simultaneously introduced Cantabrigians to great coffee and a fantastic 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. Now as popular with creatives and young professionals as it initially was with students, the cozy, narrow, neighborly Inman Square institution continues to thrive, even in the Starbucks era. If you can’t manage to snag a seat, its Central Square branch is just cozy, but also just as popular.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Leather District
  • price 2 of 4

Say hello to Gracenote Coffee Roasters, an independent roastery and cafe that brews and serves their own locally roasted beans—and subsequently takes gourmet coffee to the next level. 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

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. 

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Part Vietnamese cafe, part Parisian crêperie, Phinistia is a gift bestowed upon the Fenway. This place offers a number of authentic beverages to keep you highly caffeinated—most famously, its phin coffee brewed using a traditional Vietnamese metal filter for a strong but smooth result. Try the Phin Đen (it’s best served black) or the Phin Trứng (a customary combo of coffee, egg yolk and condensed milk) and if you’re not a coffee kind of person, grab one of its colorful, highly Instagrammable milk teas or lemonades. Crêpes are made atop a griddle for all to see, sending a sweet aroma throughout the delicately wallpapered cafe, and lunch-goers love the bánh mì and noodle bowls filled with fresh flavors of the Far East, like mint, lemongrass and pickled vegetables. If you’re looking to get your midday meal here, just be sure to show up on the earlier side, before the lunch rush leaves no noodle or baguette behind.

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  • Restaurants
  • South End

This ideally situated cafe with a walk-up-window on Appleton Street in the South End is run by mother-daughter duo who refer to Greystone as their ‘baby.’ It’s no surprise, then, that the utmost care and craft goes into every cup and beyond, as they offer sweet treats and lunch noshes. From the single-origin pourover to spicy chai, you can’t go wrong at Greystone.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Somerville
  • price 1 of 4

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?

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  • Restaurants
  • Jamaica Plain

You know what they say about good things coming in small packages? Well, Tokava is no exception. This Jamaica Plain coffee shop is celebrated for their artisanal espresso in a contemporary (and tiny!) setting. Proving that less is more, Tokava still offers a selection of fresh pastries to accompany your java, atop of which you can always expect a frothy heart to appear, courtesy of the friendly baristas.

  • Bars

Founded on the North Shore, Jaho’s Massachusetts roots run deep. You’ll find its string of specialty coffee roasters and cafes (we’d be remiss not to mention, its wine bar, too) dotted throughout the city; it has a flagship store in its native Salem, with other locations in the South End, Downtown Crossing and Back Bay. Each Jaho is as cozy as the other, designed by the founders’ own passion for “sitting in a relaxing café and watching the world go by,” so you can expect to want to stay awhile at Jaho.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • price 2 of 4

With its flagship in mid-Cambridge, barismo appeals to local aficionados. This lab-style coffee bar 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. There’s also a barismo in East Arlington and Woburn, perfect for commuters.

  • Restaurants
  • Back Bay

Something of a hidden gem on Newbury Street, Cafe Susu’s entrance is often overlooked because of the street-level display of suavely dressed mannequins at SuitSupply (the upmarket suit retailer from the Netherlands). Walk downstairs, however, and jade, suede chairs punctuated by brass accessories and an eclectic chandelier welcome you to Cafe Susu. The espresso bar and cafe serves up a range of handcrafted drinks—from lattes to seasonal concoctions—and sources pastries from Cafe Madeline. It’s an intimate space that’s ideal for an afternoon pick-me-up with a friend, or an all-day affair, thanks to its limited menu of salads and sandwiches, as well as beer, wine and cocktails.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • South End
  • price 1 of 4

This second-floor South End cafe is a sanctuary for caffeinated locals reluctant to give up their seats. Locally owned and operated, coffee is the first and primary order of business here, with beans sourced from nearby 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Somerville
  • price 2 of 4

Change up your morning routine and get your caffeine fix at this petite cafe in the heart of Davis Square. Nine Bar Espresso serves locally roasted Gracenote coffee and specialty loose-leaf teas, as well as delectable pastries and small bites. Their take-out window offers that charmingly neighborhood feel, all while offering that perfect cup on the run.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

Between the expansive seating, subway tiles and overall sophistication of the space, you’re forgiven for thinking you’ve walked into a bistro when you enter George Howell Coffee. Industry veteran George Howell has quite the resume, and his outlet inside the Godfrey Hotel showcases his ability to create an alluring spot, no matter the locale. 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).

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Somerville
  • price 2 of 4

While the wafting scent of java is undoubtedly a sign of a good coffee shop, there’s also a place for a sky-high piled display of pastries, sandwiches and baked goods. This tiny cafe offers both, as it 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 3 Little Fig’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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Somerville
  • price 2 of 4

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. 

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

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 from this local chain. By serving Stumptown coffee, Thinking Cup is the best choice if you’re within spitting distance of the Boston Common, strolling along Newbury Street or exploring the North End, looking for a quick fix. Keep an eye on the expert baristas as they produce Instagram-worthy lattes and, if you’re hungry, don’t overlook the breakfast sandwiches and selection of flaky pastries.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

This Japanese coffee chain’s first international branch gives downtown office workers a solid option for exquisitely crafted cups of coffee. The moment you walk in, an immaculate attention to detail encompasses you, as the minimalist interior leads you straight to the coffee bar where ‘coffee craftsman’ await. There are also light sandwiches and Asian sweet treats. Soothingly creamy hot chocolate is made with whole milk, heavy cream and rich, melted 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.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

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. Enjoy your joe on the seasonal outdoor patio in warmer weather.

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  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Back Bay

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.

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