Boston's 10 Hottest Coffee Shops

By Scott Kearnan
February 24, 2014

As we kick off Coffee Week, it seems worthwhile to take a second to salute some of the more recent entries to Boston's (frankly, pretty solid) set of java joints. From an Aussie-inspired coffee house to a "board game cafe" and Innovation District coffee-slash-beer destination, each is totally unique. And each opened within the last year, adding a little extra buzz to the local coffee lover's world. 

  • Brew

    What's the No. 1 thing every office full of start-up entrepreneurs needs? Coffee. (No. 2: angel investors. But first is coffee, definitely.) Answering the call, and quite well, is Brew - the coffee bar and cafe inside District Hall, the world's largest freestanding public innovation center. Opened in October by the Briar Group (the team behind restaurants like City Table and Anthem), Brew uses locally based Rao's Coffee for its hot cups and espresso drinks. But even better: the name "Brew" also refers to the selection of craft beers available. A workplace cafe that is perfect for morning coffee and happy hour? We'll take it. 

  • Bee's Knees Supply Co.

    This bustling hive of Fort Point office workers isn't strictly a coffee shop. It has more in common with owner Jason Owens' vision for American Provisions (his South End gourmet market) than with a Starbucks. But though the place is packed with prepared foods, take-home pantry goodies, and a deli for sandwiches of farm-fresh produce, Bee's Knees pours a pretty fantastic cup of coffee and expertly made espresso drinks.

  • Photo by: Michael Diskin

    Bread + Butter

    Boston pastry queen Lee Napoli opened this Greenway-side cafe in May, where friendly baristas serve up steaming cups of fresh coffee and delicious latte and mocha drinks. But the best part: unlike the saran-wrapped baked goods on display at your typical coffee chain outpost, this java is accompanied by tasty treats - macaroons, hand-dipped éclairs, fried-to-order beignets and scrumptious Queen's Cakes - made by one of the best bakers in town. 

  • Cuppacoffee

    Owned by a husband-wife team that includes a native of Sydney, Australia, this new West End entry imports the sensibility of an Oz espresso bar. There's a menu of light and dark drinks like the "Long Black" (what northerners would name an Americano) and Affogato (doppio espresso over ice cream). But Cuppacoffee has also partnered with NYC-based DUB Pies; "Down Under Bakeries" provides a host of savory meat pies, the unofficial state dish of Australia. 

  • Hotel Chocolat Cafe and Cocoa Bar

    Consider it a Christmas gift: in December, Boston became the first U.S. city to receive a Cafe and Cocoa Bar at its American flagship location for gourmet sweets purveyor Hotel Chocolat. Come for tasty espresso (and tea) drinks. Stay to try some of the unique cocoa-based beverages, divided into three sections: "Light + Detoxifying" (think peppermint and cocoa-shell tea), "Good for the Soul" (think a long glass of chocolate and fresh banana), and "Energizing + Stimulating," a section of espresso-style sips that can be made with either coffee or cocoa bean. Best of both worlds. 

  • Kickstand Cafe

    Named as a reference to its spot on the Minuteman Bikeway, this new Arlington spot is the perfect spot to lock up the cycle for a long break chatting over Equal Exchange coffee, loose-leaf MEM tea and - perhaps best of all - tasty snacks and sandwiches made with local artisanal breads and ingredients from other small producers. We're thinking of gorgeously gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, Thai chicken curry soup and Vietnamese fresh rolls. Besides, you'll want a little extra caffeine to take those tired legs through the next, well, leg. 

  • Knight Moves

    Fair-trade coffee, a full espresso menu and organic pastries. Great. But what truly sets apart this Coolidge Corner entry, which opened in November? The cozy spot is a full-fledged "board game cafe," with shelves lined with a library of everything from family-game-night classics to out-of-print curiosities and brand-new boxes of nerdy awesomeness. Pay $10 for a single visit and stay as long as you like (the coffee and noshes cost extra, of course), or sign up for long-term memberships if you see yourself becoming a regular. We couldn't blame you. 

  • Tamper

    Tufts students, faculty and Medford locals have a new favorite coffee joint in Tamper, which opened in the fall. Boloco co-founders Adam Liebman and Jason Hutchinson opened the cafe in the space formerly inhabited by one of that wrap chain's restaurants, and we welcome the change of pace. The eco-conscious spot (think: natural cleaning products) pours fabulous drip coffee and espresso drinks, produces its own soda selection, and offers a standout cafe menu for breakfast, brunch and lunch using artisanal ingredients like housemade pickles. 

  • Photo by: Karmon Runquist

    7 Pond Coffee Bar

    The team behind Cafe Fixe in Brookline's Washington Square just opened this Jamaica Plain coffee shop, where coffee is prepared with precision reserved for true connoisseurs. An under-the-radar find for perfect pour-over coffee and expertly made espresso, 7 will be No. 1 with locals before long. 

  • Capital One 360 Cafe

    It's the most recently opened coffee spot on this list - and it may just be the most unusual too. This month, Boston saw the opening of its first Capital One 360 Cafe in the Back Bay - yes, this is a coffee-shop concept owned by a bank and is designed to be a place where potential customers can, you know, kick back and learn about IRA options in an environment far more accessible and less intimidating than your traditional bank front office. Of course, you can also just swing in to grab a cup of something satisfying from Peet's Coffee & Tea, which provides the beans and drinks. Boston will be the first city to receive multiple 360 Cafe locations, with an additional spot slated to open soon in Downtown Crossing, plus outposts planned for Brookline's Coolidge Corner and Cambridge's Harvard Square. 


Places Mentioned

Bread + Butter

Cafe • North End

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
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