Good Food and Good CoffeeIt is not an uncommon experience to go out for a great meal at a restaurant only to end with a bitter shot of espresso or poor cup of drip coffee. The biggest challenge for restaurants is time. It takes time to make a pour over the way you might see it done at a place like dwelltime. On top of that, a dedicated cafe takes a considerable amount of time to train staff to make consistently great tasting coffee. There are too many arguments made for having a coffee experience that is not in line with the food. The question we have is why not accept the challenge and make better coffee?
Fortunately there are some great examples locally of establishments we partner with who are taking up the challenge and finding ways to offer coffee that is in line with the rest of their values: fresh product, quality, locally sourced. We hope you have a chance to try them all!
704 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA @fourburgers
That is right, a burger joint doing good coffee. Four Burgers is a local burger restaurant that focuses on well sourced ingredients from local New England farmers, cooked fresh to order. They just launched their new breakfast hours and menu (see menu on right) this month at their Central Square location. If you haven't been, you should check it out. They are using ceramic beehouse drippers to offer per cup servings of barismo coffee. The bar has just been raised.
Puritan & Co.
1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA www.puritancambridge.com
This newly opened restaurant has quickly become a popular dining spot in Inman Square and for good reason. The sourcing of the food they serve is an important aspect of what they do. In addition to well prepared, well sourced food, their Wine and Coffee buyer chose to find a coffee roaster that fit in with their two-fold goals of great tasting and locally sourced. Coffee service at Puritan & Co. is in the process of switching from french press to a stylish filtered Chemex brew. Despite the challenges all restaurants face, they have invested in a creative time saving water dispersion system that will allow them to execute a programmed Chemex recipe that's freshly ground and freshly brewed. Go for great food, but don't miss the great coffee.
253 Washington St, Somerville, MA @casabrestaurant
The beautiful space at Casa B is just the first layer of an amazing dining experience focused on small plates and excellent ingredients. After your meal, ask for the coffee, Casa B is perhaps the only restaurant locally doing, not just fresh drip coffee, but cloth filtered woodnecks. You get the rich, clean concentrated flavors of the coffees in a way that is even hard to find from a dedicated coffee shop. Each cup is prepared fresh upon ordering. This is a restaurant that has really taken coffee to the next level and the rewards are very delicious.
134 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA www.oleanarestaurant.com
This Inman Square favorite has excellent food. They asked themselves the question, why not? Why would a restaurant who can talk about their food, not offer a coffee that they can talk about. They came to barismo for two reasons, locally roasted is fresher, and we identify coffees by the producer. Instead of generic regions or fanciful Italian sounding pseudo names, they liked that we give the name of the producer, the varietal, the elevation and processing. Servers who are adept at explaining food, easily transition to coffee expert with the information provided. Coffee service at Oleana is traditional french press prepared fresh by the cup.
Good Coffee and Good Food
All of the noise we make about well sourced, freshly roasted, locally delivered coffee, it might be excusable for an excellent coffee shop to offer lackluster baked goods or food options. But why would we? Or to complete the thought, Why Not offer great food too?
It is not an easy undertaking to run a food program in what is mostly a coffee focused business. One main reason is that as coffee people we may not have specific kitchen experience to know where to even begin. With a little bit of kitchen help, and dedication to making it work, it is very possible and in fact works well. Here are some coffee places we work with doing just that.
364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA @dwelltimecoffee
Almost one year ago dwelltime launched as an example of what a high volume coffeebar can do, fresh to order drip coffees, new pressure profile espresso machine, excellent teas, cold brew on tap, great service and a comfortable spacious place to relax. That in itself was a big undertaking, but once we were on our feet that was not the end of the story. Over the first few months we were quietly figuring out our food program. We launched with baked goods which we have pushed to be better and better. Next came lunch service, internally we have kitchen experience and that was invaluable, but it is never easy figuring these things out. Once we had a handle on our weekday lunch service, we tried something really different, Brunch. And guess what... people who love great coffee, love great food too.
Voltage Coffee & Art
295 Third St, Cambridge, MA @voltagecoffee
Voltage Coffee & Art added something exceptional to the Kendall neighborhood in Cambridge when it opened almost two years ago, and like dwelltime it is not content to settle with just good coffee. People are confident in the quality of coffee at Voltage and we expect that to continue, but there is more in the works. Voltage's owner Lucy Valena has been quietly crafting a lunch program that recently launched as part of an expanding lineup soon to include beer/wine. Voltage is on the verge of installing its beer tap system and putting in a brand new wine selection. We are looking forward to expanded seating as well which will mean patio seats outdoors! Voltage is one of those spaces where the best is yet to come but knowing the staff and owner, we get that quality, community, fresh, and local are going to be the highlights.
Why would a really great restaurant offer poorly roasted, stale coffee? Or why would a "local" coffeeshop ship roasted coffee in from across the country? We don't have the answers to the various hybids of inconsistency found in the food and beverage industry. For restaurants and cafes that over look one or the other, the question is not why, but why not just get it right? The demand for quality is rising on both ends.
Luckily for customers there are places that understand that quality local food and quality local roasted coffee are part of a mutually sustaining ecosystem. Hopefully there will be more establishments who ask themselves, why not source everything fresh and local?