Where to buy bulk dry goods?
September 24, 2009 5:04 PM   Subscribe

BostonFilter: We're looking for a bulk dry-goods store.

Particularly one that sells bulk spices, flours, and loose teas. In an ideal world, this store would also sell green coffee beans from eco-friendly plantations. We've moved from Canda and BulkBarn is where we used to go. We'd love it if we could find a place like that here but asking the locals has only gotten us funny looks and stories about stores that are no longer open.

Does such a place exist? Even better, is it in Brookline?
posted by LunaticFringe to Shopping (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Many supermarkets have large bulk sections. The recently opened Whole Foods in Dedham definitely does, and I would imagine that other Whole Foods probably do as well. When I was there a couple of weeks ago I didn't notice whether they have green coffee beans, but I doubt they do, as other Whole Foods I've been to definitely don't.
posted by dersins at 5:10 PM on September 24, 2009

Best answer: The Super 88 in Allston, now under new ownership (I think?) and now very nice, has bulk spices and loose tea. I am not sure about flour, although I am sure they still have 50-lb. bags of rice somewhere. The Harvest Co-op in Cambridge has bulk spices and my all earth-saving-type friends rave over it, but I wasn't really that impressed. You can find interesting flour at the Whole Foods on Washington St. (a bit of a walk from Washington Square in Brookline-- not sure whether it is technically Brookline or Brighton), but the store is too small to have bulk anything.
posted by posadnitsa at 5:41 PM on September 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys! We've been to a Whole Foods and found it to be a lot pricier than we're used to but all of Boston is a lot pricier than we're used to so... I think we will check out this Super 88 as it sounds pretty much like what we're looking for. Green coffee beans have historically been a bit tricky to find but we do have a couple of leads. Thanks again for the answers!
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:45 PM on September 24, 2009

I recommend Christina's Spice and Specialty Foods in Cambridge (Inman Sq). Not bulk like "look out below!" bulk, but many, many spices in hand-packed bags & containers (for instance, this is Christina's). I believe they also have specialty flours.

There's also a Penzeys retail store in Arlington. Never been, but my friends like it.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2009

I'd recommend Harvest Co-Op. I shop there regularly; they have a good selection of bulk spices, grains, and other dry goods. It also right next to the Shalimar Indian grocery, which also sells bulk spices -- in this case, "bulk" meaning "packaged, but in quantity", and for some items is actually cheaper than Harvest.

I'm not sure what Posadnitsa means about not being impressed. I love the place, although I usually just shop the bulk dry goods section, with occasional expeditions for produce.
posted by larsks at 8:05 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

To elaborate, I do not live in Cambridge (near Brookline, actually), so the Harvest Co-op was something of a trek for me, and, while I no longer remember what I was looking for, they only had one of them, so it garnered a big shrug as regards stomping all the way out there for food products. As always with opinions, YMMV.
posted by posadnitsa at 4:30 AM on September 25, 2009

Yup, you definitely want the Harvest Co-Op. I'm not sure where in Brookline you are, but if you're down closer to Brookline Village, you might want to head to the Harvest on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, as it's quicker to get to than Central Square.
posted by Mayor West at 4:48 AM on September 25, 2009

Although both have bulk sections, Harvest seems more likely to have green coffee beans than Super 88. The former is a natural foods cooperative, while the latter is primarily an Asian supermarket.
posted by Plutor at 5:45 AM on September 25, 2009

Waltham is about a 25 minute drive from you. On Moody St, there are a handful of Indian stores that sell a good selection of spices for pretty cheap. Over the past few years, I've probably saved $100s from getting produce & spices from those stores.
posted by toddst at 9:04 AM on September 25, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again guys! We will have to check out the Harvest Co-op, Jamaica Plain is pretty close to us. And we'll check out Christina's next time we're up in Cambridge!
posted by LunaticFringe at 10:07 AM on September 25, 2009

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