company - education - coffee

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The state of the local coffee scene

Boston metro is what we always get tagged with. We are in East Arlington. That's right on the border with Cambridge... which is across the river from what is really Boston. Now if you live in Cambridge, you probably don't cross the river much and head into Boston unless you work there.

It doesn't really irk us, just a bit misleading as is the cafe culture in Boston/Cambridge. It's incredibly confusing, convoluted, and a bit of scramble. I can say without a doubt, the better cafes are still in Cambridge right now. After the recent opening of Voltage in Kendall and a few shudders of movement from old Cambridge establishments, things are looking better. Crema got notably better with the addition of Sal (ex Pavement mgr). Toscaninis has put up the money to buy new gear and is moving towards a better coffee program. 1369 got new gear also and doubled down with their coffee program. Simon's recently had two barista place 1st and 3rd after the White Chrome event (local comp hosted by Flat Black) and the shop seems to really have some energy after that. It seems like prepping for the competition and doing well really sparked them (congrats to Nathaniel and Jason). Hi Rise on Brattle St. in Harvard Sq. continues to put out some of the most progressive coffee in the area though the main store on Concord St. has nothing in common coffee-wise (though better sandwiches). That's the roundup of Cambridge shops for now but look for an update to that in a few months.

As for Boston, there are unconfirmed rumors of the coffee MGR of a small chain wanting to a open a barismo style roasting operation on that side of the river very soon, possibly in January (again unconfirmed). We know him and wish him good luck, but it's a lot more hard work than most people expect looking at it from the outside. You run into a lot of walls until you find your customers and if you desire to do quality, the battle is even more uphill around here. Dylan is back working at Sip but we haven't been there recently to check in. Other than that, there is not legitimate motion over there I'd like to note as the rest seems either the same or worse.

Taste in Newton is now owned by GHH/Terroir. I think it's worth a visit to see what they are doing out there. Most of our staff and myself have visited all of these spaces in the last month and you should too. I think visiting all of these cafes is good if you are curious about the Boston/Cambridge coffee scene... as long as you start at barismo... and end there too!