Boston Coffee Shop With Good Coffee, Not Dim, Tasteful Quiet Music (or Silence), and Some Comfy Chairs?
August 18, 2004 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Can any Boston natives recommend a good coffee shop? [MI]

Since moving to Boston I have been crazily disappointed in the coffee shops here. To my mind, a good coffee shop has the following characteristics: a) excellent coffee; b) bright light, preferably from big windows, for reading; c) tasteful, quiet music, or, even better, silence; and d) a couple comfy chairs. A coffee shop that totally meets my criteria is Doma, in New York, at 7th Ave. and Perry, if anyone knows it.

Since I've moved here, I've been to the 1369, Espresso Royale, Burdick's, Darwin's, etc. etc. -- but none of them satisfy! All of them are dark, or noisy, or have bad coffee, or are not really designed for hanging out and reading or working or writing (e.g., Cafe Pamplona). Any long-time Bostonians on here have some suggestions?
posted by josh to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Someday Cafe in Davis Square, Diesel (also in Davis), Quebrada in East Arlington, 1369 in Central Square. Boston has a lot of good independent places, so you can avoid places like Starbucks and the Boston-based chain affectionately known as "Urban Pain."
posted by PrinceValium at 4:06 PM on August 18, 2004

Algiers, in Harvard Square.
posted by lbergstr at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2004

Not strictly a coffehouse, but lots of people come just to sip coffee and work or read. No couches or soft chairs - strictly wooden chairs at tables - but a great space, especially on the second floor with the beautiful carved ceiling. Coffee is good but may not be to your taste. Excellent things to munch on.
posted by lbergstr at 4:44 PM on August 18, 2004

Wow, I came here to comment and two of my choices are already here. The Someday has hit or miss coffee since it was bought, but the atmosphere is nice, people are nice and it's right off the T. Very casual, verging on ratty, but nice big windows. They usually play music. Algiers is also pretty right on. My favorite place to drink coffee and work, however, is the Downtown Boston Public Library Cafe at the big main library at the Copley stop. You can drink very good coffee, use free wireless [if you have a BPL card], have an outlet, sit in a comfy chair and work. I've stayed there for hours sometimes You can also take that coffee and your laptop or book to the little courtyard outside [also with Wifi] and sit around a fountain
posted by jessamyn at 5:08 PM on August 18, 2004

Peet's has finally made it east - Excellent coffee and the atmosphere you describe, at least in the Brookline location that I'm most familiar with - there are 3 in the area: 285 Harvard in Brookline, 100 Mount Auburn in Harvard Sq., and downtown at 176 Federal St.

My personal fav: Torrefazione at 85 Newbury. Good Italian roasts and the food, while limited, is quite good and goes beyond the usual baked sweets fare.
posted by jalexei at 5:09 PM on August 18, 2004

"Urban Pain"? We always called it "Ow! Bone Pain!".
posted by nicwolff at 5:13 PM on August 18, 2004

Heh - we call it "The Good Pain", where the "good" is rather sarcastic.

This was not always the case, though. About 8 or 9 years ago, I remember the 'Pain featured Peet's coffee, some years before Peet's opened their own locations. The "Ritazza" swill they're "brewing" now is an insult to made-up Italian words everywhere.
posted by jalexei at 5:35 PM on August 18, 2004

I'm from Oxford and found this map of Boston. Sadly, I can't see any coffeeshops located.

It was Boston, Lincolnshire, UK you meant, wan't it? (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 5:39 PM on August 18, 2004


[runs away]
posted by five fresh fish at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2004

Response by poster: Ha, "Ow! Bone Pain!" and "Urban Pain" are both hilarious!

Thanks everyone -- I will definitely check out all of these places. I was just in the Public Library cafe earlier today, and it is definitely a nice place to work. All of these suggestions sound awesome.
posted by josh at 6:49 PM on August 18, 2004

Oh yes, Algiers. I guess the Casablanca restaurant upstairs is all different now, but Algiers is still great. (Nice garden too, or used to have.)

There was a great place called Cafe Rasmus on Mass Ave just down from Boylston across from the Christian Science church but it may be gone now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:52 PM on August 18, 2004

I used to really like Toscanini's. There are three locations -- Harvard Square (1310 Mass Ave), Main St. @ Mass Ave (just north of Central), and a newish one in Somerville (Union Square). I used to haunt the one at MIT in the student center, but it appears to be something called Arrow Street Crepes now. They had excellent coffee, plus what they're really known for: ice cream!
posted by acridrabbit at 7:05 PM on August 18, 2004

i cannot add anything to josh's quest in boston, but i must second his praise of doma in the west village.
most of my summer has been spent there reading, writing, and drinking (depending on the time of day and the mood: coffee or some excellent czech beer).

we really shouldn't share such info. it's crowded enough as it is!
posted by ronv at 7:15 PM on August 18, 2004

Carberry's on Elm (off of Porter/Davis) or Prospect (off of Central).

True Grounds in Ball Square (near Davis, with Wifi!!)

Cafe Rustica (off of Oxford St. near Porter).

I'm North of the River biased, but frequented all these places over the past 5 years (True Grounds being the latest. I live down the street.)

Boston Meetup?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:28 PM on August 18, 2004

Response by poster: I think that Doma is, probably, the best cafe I have ever been to.
posted by josh at 7:54 PM on August 18, 2004

Berkeley Perk at the corner of Berkeley and Chandler in the South End.

I lived down the street from it for five years. People used to tell me how lucky I was to live near it when discovering my address. I really dislike coffee shops, but it seemed to fit your criteria and other people are nuts about it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:58 AM on August 19, 2004

I used to go down to the someday cafe
that hip little spot down the road
but then I looked around
and saw everyone was doing it
so I went and had my coffee alone
but I don't want to sulk
cause that's so alternative
and alternative is so mainstream
everybody's giving up,
everybody's giving up
the evil bean
so I can't drink my coffee
and I can't give it up
and decaf is so mundane
I just thought about blowing my brains out
but that's so Cobain
you know everybody's trying not to
be just like everybody
everybody's trying not to
be just like everybody
everybody, everybody's trying not to
be just like everybody
and I don't want to be like that.

©1996 Jim Infantino
posted by bondcliff at 6:56 AM on August 19, 2004

I'll third Algiers, though it's been a long long time since I've been there...
posted by soplerfo at 7:22 AM on August 19, 2004

Way out of the way for most folks, but the Globe keeps calling Roslindale the next hot neighborhood, sooo:

Emack & Bolio's in Roslindale Square, across from the commuter-rail stop. Yes, it's really an ice-cream place, but it started out as a coffeeshop and it still feels more like one of those than an ice-cream place: They even have a couple of couches. Big windows overlooking the streets, jazz softly playing and free Wi-Fi. Oh, yeah, and coffee :-).
posted by adamg at 9:16 AM on August 19, 2004

Quebrada in East Arlington lost the part of their space with seating (the business next door wanted to expand). They intend to put some seating in their current, smaller space, but it hasn't happened yet. There is also a Carberry's in Arlington Center.

I'll put in another word for Someday Cafe.
posted by initapplette at 11:11 AM on August 19, 2004

I like diesel in Davis, though it may be a little dark for your taste. Comfy booths, though. There is a new Toscanini's/bakery opening up on the corner of Beacon and Kirkland/Washington, kitty-corner from Dali in Somerville. That could be nice. Also I've been meaning to check out a place called Sherman's which recently opened in Union Square - on the first block of Washington St. toward Harvard.

Good luck in your quest.
posted by ungratefulninja at 11:22 AM on August 19, 2004

I'll make a serious coffee contribution, too:

If you ever happen to drive up the Sunshine Coast, which means heading out of Vancouver and catching the ferry to Gibsons, be absolutely sure to stop at the very tiny coffee shop on Gibson's mainstreet, just off the harbour, a block down from Molly's Reach, on the sea side of the street, where the proprietor fresh-roasts her beans in small batches all day and draws divine godshots.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:13 PM on August 19, 2004

yet again another person who must praise diesel (honestly, i moved out of boston last year and i dearly miss my coffee-shop/poolhall). And make sure to get the hot vanilla at toscanini's (amazing). unfortunately curious liquids disappeared (anyone out there know where it went?) so the only other place i can suggest is the espresso cafe next to mikes pastries on hanover street (north end)....of course there's also dunkin donuts (truly sad, california has NO dunkin donuts...what the fuck is wrong with these people!)
posted by NGnerd at 8:35 PM on August 19, 2004

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