Yes, one of our nicknames is Beantown, and no, it has nothing to do with coffee beans. In fact, the specter of Dunkin’ Donuts has hung over this town for so many years that outsiders have problems wrapping their heads around our truly robust coffeehouse scene. Not that they should: Any Northeastern U.S. city worth its sidewalk salt places a premium on quality joe and a cozy hangout in which to savor it. And Boston ups the quirky quotient, boasting a plethora of cafés that also offer oversized couches, weekly trivia nights and even the occasional pool table. Behold, the best coffee shops in Boston, providing city dwellers with the caffeine fix they need after spending a night drinking delicious cocktails and beers or dancing to top tunes.
Best coffee shops in Boston
The second-floor South End cafe is a sanctum for caffeinated hipsters reluctant to give up their hard-fought seats. Little wonder: Among other things, Render may well have kicked off the city’s pour-over love. 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jamie N.
In many ways, this is the grand dame of 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, even opening a second branch in Central Square. For those who suffer perpetual withdrawal, 1369 now offers a weekly growler delivery of its cold-brewed iced coffee.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jason W.
Is it a coffee shop or a French bistro? Between the expansive seating, the subway tiles and the overall sophistication of the space, you’re forgiven for being confused upon first your entrance. George Howell is a small-batch roaster founded by a coffee shop veteran (Howell opened the Coffee Connection in Harvard Square in the 1970s, eventually growing it to 24 stores before selling to Starbucks in 1994). The original coffee shop is a modest, neighborhood affair in a nearby suburb, but this outlet, located inside the urbane Godfrey Hotel, is another beast entirely: a massive marble bar with two espresso machines, coffee education classes, a retail corner for purchasing brewing equipment as well as beans and, yes, a menu of Francophile fare like toasted tartines. But the coffee drinks still reign supreme, including specialty drinks like The Original (a frozen blend of coffee, milk and sugar).
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tracie S.
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.
How is a high-concept restaurant also one of the area’s great coffee shops? Because Loyal Nine wears more than one hat. Yes, it’s a nighttime spot serving reimagined New England fare, but it’s also a cafe during daylight hours. Imagine settling in with your laptop at an inside communal table or on the outside patio, a glass of nitro coffee in hand and a biscuit breakfast sandwich at the ready. Before you know it, you’ll find you’ve lingered into lunchtime, which simply means you can explore the midday sandwich and salad offerings and indulge in one last latte.
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.
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.
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.