As a lifelong Massachusetts resident, I’ve had ample opportunity to try a bunch of different coffee shops and cafés. Boston has a great local coffee scene, and I love to try new cafes.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to visit them all, but I’m definitely making my best effort. I’ll try to limit myself to talking about just my top few.
There are still a bunch of spots on my to-visit list, to be sure, but I’ve also been to many and want to share my thoughts. This is my very subjective guide to Boston coffee! I’m talking about the pros and cons of each spot– ambiance, prices, drinks to try and more. I’ve also included links to the websites of every spot, in highlighting just in case you’re curious and want to see more. You should be able to click on the title of each section and be directed to their site!
It wouldn’t be a complete Boston coffee guide if I didn’t mention Tatte, a local chain which has slowly been expanding all over Boston (and now DC too!). While some coffee snobs turn up their noses at Tatte as too mainstream, I enjoy Tatte a lot.
I have been to at least five or six Tatte locations, and all of them have the same beautiful white tile and custom patterned floors. Tatte is very Instagrammable– definitely a great aesthetic for brunch with the girls, but be prepared to brave the crowds.
- Beautiful interior
- Delicious food and espresso beverages
- Latte art
- Many locations
- Very crowded
- Some baked goods are dry
Best for: brunch with friends
Liv’s picks: Biscuit egg sandwich, almond milk latte
There are two Render Coffee locations, but I have only visited the one on the South End, which has a secret-feeling sitting area tucked in the back. The location is great– right near an awesome park that is perfect to walk around in if you take your coffee to go, the better to see all of the adorable brownstones.
Render definitely serves quality beans, including Tandem and Gracenote. Their drinks reflect this not only in flavor but also in price. An iced latte with non-dairy milk will set you back nearly $6.
- Seating area with great views
- High quality drinks
Best for: to go, coffee date
Liv’s pick: cold brew or iced latte
A portion of all sales made at Recreo, a cheerful cafe in West Roxbury, supports their family farm in Nicaragua. Their beans are roasted in house, so as you can imagine, it smells amazing! With friendly baristas and a beautiful hidden patio perfect for warmer weather, this is a spot where you can’t go wrong.
- Local roaster
- Great outdoor seating
- Friendly staff
- Street parking can be tricky (but pro: it’s free)
Best for: Coffee outing on a sunny day
Liv’s pick: almond milk latte (hot or iced!)
A cozy neighborhood spot in Somerville, 3 Little Figs serves mouth-watering homemade baked goods and delicious espresso from Tandem Roasters. Owned and operated by an awesome husband-and-wife duo, this is definitely a very popular local spot, with most people coming from within walking distance. There is often a line out the door on the weekends, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want to start their Saturday off here?
- Amazing baked goods
- Cute ambiance
- Friendly staff and owners
- No Wi-Fi
- Upcharge for non dairy milk is expensive
Best for: latte and a pastry, small groups
Liv’s Picks: Iced oat milk latte, lavender scone, pepper biscuit breakfast sandwich
Even before walking in, it is clear that Revival is going to be a lot of fun. How many other cafés have a giant giraffe painted on the side of the building? With a zany Fried Chicken Friday and other fun staff shenanigans, Revival is quirky and has several locations.
You can find them in Davis Square, Alewife, and now Newbury Street. With Liza Shirazi (formerly of Crema Cafe) heading up the coffee program, you can guarantee your latte will be amazing…reviving, even.
- Cute interior
- Fun and friendly staff
- George Howell coffee
- Don’t plan to drive– parking in Davis Square is a nightmare
Best for: small groups, weekend brunch
Liv’s Picks: almond milk latte, overnight oats
Broadsheet has adapted to COVID times with a super cute and cheerful ordering window. They roast their own delicious coffee and their location is not too far from Harvard Square if you want to take a walk through Harvard Yard or do some window shopping while sipping on your latte.
- Great COVID safety measures
- Easy 30-minute parking right outsdie
- No indoor entry
Liv’s Pick: Iced oat milk lavender latte
Other spots to check out:
Pavement Coffee– another local chain that is consistently good. They roast their own coffee, too, which is super cool!
George Howell Coffee– expensive but extremely high-quality espresso beverages.
Other cafés I have visited in the Boston/Somerville/Cambridge area that I enjoyed: Diesel Cafe, Tamper, Cafenation and Forge Baking Co.
Other Boston cafés I have yet to try: Farmer’s Horse Cafe, Pepita Coffee, Ogawa, Cuppa Coffee, Phinista Cafe, Cafe Landwer, Cafe Fixe, Nine Bar Espresso, Tokava, Mary Lou’s, Flour, the Boston locations of La Colombe and Blue Bottle, Solid Ground Cafe, Ripple Cafe, Ziggy’s, Elmendorf, Kickstand Cafe… the list goes on!