• Guide

The 14 Best Coffee Shops in Boston

By Jacqueline Cain · 02/23/2022

Boston may be famed for its astounding number of Dunkin’s, but look between the franchises and you’ll discover a rich network of independent coffee shops across every neighborhood. From espresso bars where you can start your day to cafes where you can camp out, coffee houses in Boston keep students, professionals, and visitors alike well-caffeinated. Whether you’re looking for iced coffee year-round or locally roasted coffee, check out the best coffee shops in Boston.

The Best Coffee Shops in Boston

Coffee from 3 Little Figs | The Best Coffee Shops in Boston

3 Little Figs

Situated in a quiet section of Somerville, 3 Little Figs is a specialty coffee shop and neighborhood bakery all in one homey package. The coffee and espresso drinks are made using an ever-changing rotation of small American coffee roasters such as Tandem, Bolt, and Brandywine. Daily bakery specials, breakfast sandwiches, house-made granola, a family-recipe spinach pie, and other Greek-inspired dishes give even non-coffee lovers a good reason to make a special trip. Take me there.

Broadsheet Coffee Roasters

Head to Broadsheet Coffee if you’re looking for single-origin brews and love the aroma of coffee roasting. Cambridge’s first (and only) specialty coffee roastery transparently sources beans from regions around the world—and ships them across the U.S. At its coffee house near Harvard Yard (open only for takeout right now), walk up to ask about the roasts available that day as drip coffee drinks, cold brew, and double-shot espresso drinks. Take me there.

Cicada Coffee Bar

A relative newcomer just outside of Central Square, Cicada Coffee Bar has brought Vietnamese coffee culture to Cambridge. Try a cup of toasted-nutty coffee sourced from Vietnam, brewed strong and served hot; or a sweetened iced coffee, like our favorite, the frothy Sea Salt Shaker. The relaxing vibe of the cool espresso bar and its garden patio is as thoughtful as the drinks, so stay awhile and order up a pescatarian noodle dish or pastries like Passion Fruit Brioche by Café Beatrice pastry chef Brian Mercury. Take me there.

Where to find the best Coffee in Boston

Curio Coffee and Wine

Curio Coffee is a miniscule, new-wave coffee shop that remains open for takeout only. Every neighborhood should have such a place serving up expert shots of espresso, Taza hot chocolate, and—the pièce de résistance—scratch-made waffles Liège-style Belgian waffles. In season, Curio has a seasonal streetside patio and dishes up smash burgers and natural wines on select evenings. We look forward to the eventual reopening of the chic little space full of white tiles, ironic mounted faux-animal heads, and live plants. Take me there.

George Howell Coffee

Credit: George Howell Coffee

George Howell Coffee

George Howell Coffee at The Godfrey Hotel is a coffee lover’s nirvana. The coffee house in Downtown Crossing is open daily with room to linger over rotating weekly selections of locally roasted espresso, brewed coffees, single-cup pour overs, and coffee flights; along with baked goods and sandwiches. It boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, a smooth soundtrack, and bags of coffee marked by tasting notes. The eponymous founder has spent more than four decades in specialty coffee, and his coffee shop caters to the aficionado—but also spreads the knowledge with coffee education events and tastings in-store. George Howell also has cafes in Newtonville and the Boston Public Market. Take me there.

Gracenote Coffee

This local coffee roasting company has a takeout-cafe location in Boston’s Leather District and one opening March 2022 at High Street Place food hall. Gracenote Coffee offers a variety of pour-overs and espresso drinks in-store made with its own roasts and blends, as well as whole-bean coffees to bring home. The coffee bar is a tiny thing of beauty, with live-edge olive wood counters and a gleaming Modbar espresso machine awaiting your order. Take me there.

KoHi Coffee Company

Born on the beach in Provincetown, KoHi Coffee Company’s airy vibes are now also at two city locations: Brighton’s Boston Landing and the South End’s Revolution Hotel. All three coffee bars are awash in white tiles with geometric, wrought-iron details; and they serve up a unique selection of organic and fair trade coffee and espresso drinks in partnership with Tandem Coffee Roasters. Also on the menu is Nola-style iced coffee with chicory root, baked goods, and—particularly in Brighton—a substantial selection of breakfast options. Take me there.

Pavement Coffeehouse

With eight Boston-area locations, Pavement Coffeehouse is a longtime favorite for students—and the rest of us. But since opening a flagship location and coffee roasting facility in 2018 on Western Ave. in Brighton, our love for Pavement has only grown. Ask your barista about the daily selection of single-origin coffees or try the house-blend Rathskeller, an approachable, chocolatey roast named for a gone-but-never-forgotten Boston rock club. Pavement also bakes its own bagels and offers a selection of lunch and breakfast sandwiches. Take me there.

Pepita Coffee Co.

Head to this sunny Cambridge coffee house when you need a place to work-from-home where you can also order a beer if you so desire (we won’t tell your boss). Pepita Coffee is the in-house cafe of Lamplighter Brewing Company, and the beer taps begin flowing daily at 11 a.m. This is a coffee guide, of course, so rest assured there’s a full espresso menu, bottomless cups of coffee, and rotating cold brews and teas, plus breakfast sandwiches and house-made pastries. Take me there.

Recreo Coffee & Roasterie

This West Roxbury coffee house has its roots in Nicaragua on founder Miriam Morales’ family farm, El Recreo Estate. Directly sourcing beans and roasting them on-site, Recreo Coffee & Roasterie fulfills the neighborhood’s caffeine needs with a wide variety of single-origin espresso drinks and hot and cold coffee, plus tea, hot chocolate, and locally-made pastries and cookies. The cozy café is worth visiting, but you can also find Recreo Coffee inside City Hall at a third-floor coffee bar, as well as on the menu at local shops like Exodus Bagels and Bess’s Cafe. Take me there.

Reign Drink Lab

Credit: Tam Le

Reign Drink Lab

The second generation of Fields Corner mainstay Pho Hoa opened this forward-thinking coffee shop in a formerly little-used space behind the Dorchester noodle house. Among Reign Drink Lab’s signature libations is the Dark & Stormy, nitro-poured cold brew layered with a shot of Vietnamese iced coffee and sweetened sea salt cream. It also makes an excellent classic Vietnamese Coffee, with or without condensed milk; plus creative blended beverages like the breakfast-in-a-cup Six One Seven, which features nitro cold brew, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, and honey. Take me there.

Render Coffee

Render Coffee has cozy, greenery-filled locations in the South End and Financial District, with Seaport and Charlestown coffee bars in the works for spring 2022. Serving its own roasted coffee, as well as beans from Portland, Maine-based Tandem Coffee Roasters, Render’s long list of specialty drinks runs the gamut from cortados to Malted Cold Brew. The South End original has bagel breakfast sandwiches, lunchtime stacks like Chicken Pesto and a Turkey Club, and a window-lined back patio that’s one of the city’s choice spots for espresso in the sun. Take me there.

Vinal Bakery Boston

Vinal Bakery

You are absolutely at this Somerville bakery for the best English muffins you’ve ever had, and probably a scone or a hefty slice of Banana Bread. But you should also head here for your caffeine fix, as Vinal Bakery has a serious coffee program featuring Tandem Coffee Roasters. You can’t go wrong with the well-brewed coffee and cold brew (also available by the quart), but there are some specialty drinks in line with Vinal’s overall New England-y vibe, like a delicious Maple Latte and Coffee Milk (“like chocolate milk… but coffee!”) spiked with house-made Tandem Coffee Syrup. Take me there.

The VU

The VU’s claim to fame is being Boston’s only surviving video rental store, but you don’t need to be a film buff to appreciate this gem in Jamaica Plain. Friendly clerks are not only ready with a movie recommendation, they also pull a great espresso and recently started roasting their own coffee beans. The small shop crafts a fun range of smoothies, espresso-spiked frappés, and specialty drinks like the salted-caramel caffè latte Sukkar Banat. Baked goods and crepes are made in-house and are frequently vegan-friendly. Take me there.

Eric Twardzik contributed reporting.

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