Putting the Bean in Beantown
by Kady Matsuzaki
Photography by Marissa Wu
Boston University students know where their loyalties lie when it comes to the question of which is better—Pavement or Blue State. However, Boston is home to many other coffee shops that deserve our attention—and possibly our devotion—off of Commonwealth Avenue.
According to Sam Kim (COM ’19), the best kinds of coffee shops have “food that is just as good as their coffee.”
If you are hungry for something more substantial than espresso, Cuppacoffee has you covered. Despite being located near the Italian North End, Cuppacoffee is an Australian-style coffee shop. They famously bake Aussie-style meat pies and other treats in-house to serve alongside their espresso drinks. If you are looking for an authentic flat white or a Lamington in a cozy setting, give Cuppacoffee a try.
Craving caffeine on the other side of the city? The South End is home to numerous hidden gems. Blunch is consistently lauded for its chocolate chip cookies, but the shop also offers great coffee in a bustling café atmosphere. Although not open on Sundays, the South End staple is perfect for grabbing a light lunch and an espresso while getting some work done. Just a few blocks away, Café Madeleine, founded by James Beard Award winner, Chef Frederic Robert, brews eco-friendly La Colombe coffee alongside delicious French pastries.
The epitome of a hidden gem, Gracenote is a tiny coffee shop on the border of Chinatown and South Boston. The brick-and-mortar face of independent roasting company Gracenote Coffee Roasters, Gracenote is known for its deep, smooth espresso and dedication to educating its customers about coffee.
Take a break from shopping in Downtown Crossing to check out Boston Brewin Coffee. It scores major points for a pun-ny name, fair-trade coffee, and organic, locally-sourced baked goods. Ogawa Coffee, the first U.S outpost of a Japanese chain, is also in the area. It boasts both stadium-style and tabled seating. With a menu that features creamy matcha lattes and coffee flights.
“[Good coffee shops] have good food that matches with coffee,” said Jae Yoon Bae (CAS ’19). It shows that the owners put thought and care into the menu.”
3 Little Figs in Somerville is one coffee shop whose menu exemplifies that care. Even though it is away from the hustle and bustle of greater Boston, crowds line up to taste their delicious coffee and food. This cozy neighborhood cafe boasts homemade pastries, weekend brunch and U.S-based coffee roasts. Although they have a “no laptops or WiFi” policy on the weekends, 3 Little Figs is great for grabbing breakfast with friends.
Harvard University favorite Crema Café is constantly buzzing with students getting their caffeine fix. If you are lucky enough to grab a table, be sure to order a sweet potato sandwich alongside your locally sourced coffee.
Porter Square mainstay Simon’s Coffee Shop offers a quiet space to read while enjoying Barisimo or George Howell roasts. Looking for a sweet treat to pair with your coffee? Check out Curio Coffee in East Cambridge, known for both its Counter Culture beans and liege waffles.
If living in South Campus or simply making a trip to Brookline, the owners of 4A Coffee roast their beans in-house to ensure that you get a fresh-tasting cup every time. A little farther into Brookline, Kookoo Café is a combined yoga studio and coffee shop. For campus yogis, Kookoo is the place for morning vinyasa and caffeine.
Located just off the Symphony T-stop, Farmer Horse Coffee has patrons singing its praises. “[A good coffee shop must have] lots of seats and good music”, said Michaela Dwyer (CAS ’19). Farmer Horse has both, boasting numerous tables with outlets and an extensive food and coffee menu, making this café a great place to study with friends.
Pavement and Blue State aside, the abundance of small coffee shops in Boston gives new meaning to our “Beantown” nickname. Whether you are looking for a quiet place to study or a casual breakfast, these hidden gem coffee shops have you covered.