Coffee with Boston skyline

Discover the Top Coffee Shops in Boston

Boston has a unique, urban charm unlike any other city I’ve been to. While New York City is so bustling and busy that it seems disconnected and impersonal, Boston has that unmistakable sense of community — despite having a metropolitan population of over 4 million people. The one thing that these two East Coast cities have in common, though, is a love of all things caffeinated. Boston may not be as coffee snobby as other locales (we’re looking at you, Portland), but its residents and travelers alike have a deep appreciation for coffee that’s well-made and reflects an attention to detail to the craft and skill needed to brew a proper cup. As a lifelong New England resident, who frequently finds herself on the streets of Boston, I’ve had my fair share of great — and not so great — Beantown brews.

To ensure that your trip to the city is filled with high-quality, flavorful coffee, I’ve created a list of some of the must-stop places for espresso, milky beverages, cold brew, and more, based on my personal tasting experience, recommendations from coffee-obsessed friends, and also notable publications. These spots all offer consistently delicious coffee (as well as other items) that will fuel you up for your time in this historic, charming city.

George Howell Coffee (Multiple locations)

George Howell Coffee cup

ghowellcoffee/Instagram

George Howell is the place that you need to go if you consider yourself a true coffee geek. Not only is this spot a great stop for perfectly strong, yet mellow espresso or a delectable latte, but it’s also a place where you can grow a better understanding of how to brew truly remarkable coffee.

If you’re just passing through the Public Market, pick up a beverage at George Howell’s small, but mighty stand. Or, if you prefer a more sit-down coffee experience, sample one of its rotating single-origin selections or flights at the downtown location in The Godfrey Hotel. This spot is also home to the coffee shop’s Exploratorium, a retail space that also hosts coffee-centric classes. While its locations both in and out of the city offer a limited food menu, including tantalizing croissants, this is one spot where you should go and stay for the coffee.

georgehowellcoffee.com

Multiple locations

Gracenote (Multiple locations)

Gracenote coffee with people

gracenotecoffee/Instagram

Gracenote offers two locations, including in the Leather District on Lincoln Street and in the High Street Place Food Hall. I prefer the sit-down experience of the former spot, which is complete with light, airy windows and scant greenery that reflects a soft, yet sophisticated aura. Granted, the tables are few and far between at this location, so you’re better off grabbing an espresso beverage to go.

Despite its ambiance, Gracenote takes its coffee quite seriously, especially its aforementioned espresso. You can order one of two options: a house espresso (called Alpha), or a single-origin selection that rotates regularly. My favorite beverage to order at Gracenote, by far, is its miso caramel latte made with white miso, caramel, and steamed milk. This beverage is perfectly balanced, with sweet and salty undertones that make this more than just a coffee — but a sipping experience as well. 

gracenotecoffee.com

Multiple locations

Tradesman Coffee Shop & Lounge in the Financial District

Coffee and muffin at Tradesman

tradesmanboston/Instagram

Walking into Tradesman Coffee is like taking a step back in time. The vibe is warm, inviting, and almost oaky, and the diversity of items on its menu is nothing short of impressive. The coffee menu is rather short, especially compared to other shops on my list, but Tradesman clearly does its coffee well. You’ll find simple options like espressos, macchiatos, Americanos, and lattes, all made with Barrington Coffee Company’s beans.

Tradesman is a coffee shop seemingly meant for lingering. The tall-backed chairs and ample counter seating are the perfect spots to plop down and get some work done, or to sip on a drip coffee and enjoy the city as it goes by outside. Equally as delectable as its coffee selection is its pastries, which includes Boston cream pie and red velvet croissants.

tradesmanboston.com

(617) 348-1230

58 Batterymarch St, Boston, MA 02110

Render Coffee (Multiple locations)

Render coffee with sandwich

rendercoffee/Instagram

Render is coffee as it should be. This spot offers two locations, one in the South End that is open every single day of the week and a Seaport location that’s only open on weekdays. All of Render’s coffee is roasted in Shirley, Massachusetts before being shipped into the city for coffee lovers to sip on.

The only thing better than the coffee at Render is its sitting space. The Columbus Avenue location features a beautiful, expansive glass patio with table spaces and a terrace for enjoying a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. One of Render’s most unique beverage options, by far, is the malted cold brew, which is brimming with a unique, caramel flavor that isn’t overtly syrupy. If you’re anything like me, you’d also love its salted maple latte, which combines the oaky undertone of the syrup with complex salty notes.

rendercoffeebar.com

Multiple locations

Broadsheet Coffee Roasters in Cambridge

Latte art in cup

broadsheetcoffee/Instagram

Broadsheet Coffee Roasters is the place that you’ll want to go for an airy, welcoming café ambiance with ample seating. Its Cambridge location is highly revered for its knowledgeable staff, as well as its simple, yet well-done selection of brews that all come from beans roasted at the shop’s Somerville roastery. Its menu is rather pared-down; you’ll find a features espresso or standard house espresso option, as well as classic milky beverages like cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas. Café-goers also have the option to add a house-made syrup to their beverages.

Although this spot might not be as bustling as the other shops in Boston Proper, the staff members here are very clearly well-versed in the art of making good coffee. The pour over coffees are beautifully floral and well-balanced, while the staff is masterful about the perfect ratio of coffee to milk in your favorite beverage.

broadsheetcoffee.com

(617) 945-2867

100 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Phin’s Coffee House in Downtown

Coconut coffee pour over

phin.coffee.house/Instagram

Phin’s Coffee House showcases the beautiful fusion of Vietnamese cuisine and coffee. Although it might seem like a unique regional pairing, there are actually quite a few beverages resulting from this fusion. While you might be familiar with Vietnamese coffee beverages, including the ever-popular Vietnamese iced coffee, Phin also has a creative trick up its sleeve. You can try a cà phê phin, an intricate brewing method that produces a coffee with a slightly chocolatey and caramel undertone that is far more pleasant to drink than a plain pour over. Another must-try item on Phin’s menu is the citrus espresso, which is a shot of espresso served iced with orange juice and limeade.

This is one coffee spot you’re better off stopping at around mid-day, so that you can sample three of its banh mi options, spring roll platters, or Vietnamese-inspired salads. The environment at this shop is hip and modern, but seats are limited. 

phincoffeehouse.com

(617) 377-4170

10 High St, Boston, MA 02110

Yego Coffee in Somerville

Yego coffee bag with cup

yegocoffee/Instagram

Yego Coffee is a Somerville gem that really focuses its efforts on highlighting the terroir that coffee can bring to the table. It’s owned by husband-and-wife team Fatuma and Francois Tuyishime, who bring close to 40 years of coffee-making and growing experience to their shop. Yego Coffee focuses its offerings on Rwanda-grown coffee and channels its energy into highlighting not only the craftsmanship that goes into brewing a cup, but also the farming, culture, and producers that are on the other side of this popular commodity.

The prices at this shop are notably more affordable than other Boston locales, but that doesn’t mean that Yego sacrifices the quality of every cup. The flavor of its beverages, regardless of if you’re ordering a flat white or a chai latte, are well-balanced and reflect an unparalleled commitment to artisan coffee. Oh, and the latte art at this spot is pretty darn cool, too.

yegocoffee.com

(857) 266-0977

1212 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Pavement Coffeehouse (Multiple locations)

Pavement Coffee espresso and cup

pavementcoffee/Instagram

Pavement Coffeehouse brings exuberant energy to Boston’s coffee scene. It has locations spread across the city, including in Fenway, near Boston University, Newbury, and Harvard Square. Each one of its shops brings its own unique vibes, but the one consistency that Pavement Coffeehouse has going for it is its impressive selection of beverages, ranging from Spanish lattes (an espresso with steamed milk and sweetened condensed milk) to the beloved Iced Maple Death Cream with cold brew, maple syrup, and cream. You can even sample a coffee-ish mocktail like the Dark & Stormy, made with Pavement’s house cayenne ginger ale and double espresso.

The better question might be what the shop doesn’t have. Besides its well-made coffee, you’ll also find an array of breakfast sandwiches on house-made bagels and bakery selections bound to satisfy your craving for something sweet. There’s something for everyone here, and it’s clear that Pavement doesn’t satisfy quantity for quality.

pavementcoffeehouse.com

Multiple locations

Forge Baking Co. in Somerville

Forge Baking Co. interior

forgebakingco/Instagram

Forge’s name may suggest that its forte is all things baked goods. And that’s certainly true: You’ll find a selection of sourdough bagels, rounds, scones, and some of the tastiest cardamom buns I’ve ever tried. Plus, the shop also offers classes to teach you how to master bread baking at home. But Forge Baking Co. is really more than a one-trick-pony; its espressos and lattes are also out of this world.

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This coffee shop’s selections aren’t overtly wild, but they do showcase how masterfully its baristas can craft beautiful, flavorful, and refreshing hot and cold beverages. Its beverages are made with Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Classic espresso and cover the classics, including maple, cardamom, and vanilla lattes made with milk sourced from Highlawn Farms. When I stopped at Forge, I couldn’t help but notice that its lattes were almost too beautiful to drink. Luckily, you can also sign up for classes to learn how to master latte art and craft the perfect espresso.

forgebakingco.com

(617) 764-5365

626 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

Barismo Coffee (Multiple locations)

Nitro cold brew coffee

barismocoffee/Instagram

Barismo Coffee is one of the most well-known names on the Boston coffee scene. It has two locations, one in Cambridge and the other in Arlington, where you can pick up bags of its single-origin or coffee blends.

If you’re a sucker for a delicious pastry along with your coffee, you’ll want to stop at the Cambridge location, which features a full bakery and coffee shop nestled into an old auction house. This flagship location offers an airy and minimalist interior where you can sip on high-quality brews in a welcoming setting. The best options on the menu include the nitro cold brew, which is perfectly effervescent, fizzy, and not-too bitter, and the iced draft latte, which has the same mouthfeel as a nitro brew, just with the addition of milk. The pastry selections from the in-house bakery are equally as appealing. Grab a hearty scone or a brownie with your beverage and sit at the counters, which is the perfect spot for people-watching.

barismo.com

Multiple locations

Ogawa Coffee in Downtown

Person holding fall latte

ogawacoffeeusa/Instagram

You can’t talk about Boston’s coffee scene without mentioning Ogawa, a Japanese-based coffee chain that opened its first international location in Downtown Boston. This Milk Street stop is a favorite among Boston residents and visitors alike — and for good reason. The shop not only offers regular drinks, including a Vietnamese iced coffee made with a dripper infusion and espresso beverages made with Ogawa’s house-blend Kyoto espresso, but also seasonal selections that are around for a limited time, including its smoked maple latte made with maple syrup and topped with plant-based bacon salt. Tea lovers will also appreciate the shop’s iced houijicha latte made with roasted green tea leaves and your choice of milk.

Not only are the beverages at Ogawa top-notch, but the ambiance is modern, sophisticated, and a place you genuinely want to spend time in. Although the prices here are much higher than other spots, the quality of the coffee and its setting really makes a cup from Ogawa worth it.

ogawacoffeeusa.com

(617) 780-7139

10 Milk St, Boston, MA 02108

Phinista Café in Fenway

Phinista Cafe interior with barista

lahacafe/Instagram

Phinista has a relatively unassuming exterior, including mismatched tables and chairs outside of its storefront. But what’s brewing inside is nothing short of magical. Phinista’s claim to fame is its fusion of French and Vietnamese coffee traditions in the heart of this New England city. You can sample an array of Vietnamese-inspired beverages, including a phin drip latte with condensed milk. Matcha and tea lovers will also appreciate Phinista’s selection, including a ube-infused tea, strawberry matcha, and ceremonial matcha swirled with an in-house syrup. You can also sample more French café-style beverages, including the Americano, latte, or double espresso made with a Vietnamese robusta double shot. But the real charm of this spot is the Saigon Buzz — a creative take on a Vietnamese latte.

Like its drink menu, you’ll find both French and Vietnamese influences on the food end of things. Sweet crepes, banh mi, and bakery items all adorn this beloved space.

www.phinista.com

(617) 262-7700

96 Peterborough St, Boston, MA 02215

Caffè Ducali in the North End

Person pouring affogato

caffeducali/Instagram

The menu at Ducali is classic Italian. It serves up some of the North End’s best pizza, craft beers, and more. But if you go next door, you’ll find Caffè Ducali: one of the best Italian-style espresso bars in the city. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can order an array of well-made, flavorful espresso beverages, matcha lattes, and cold brews. 

If you tend to trickle in around lunchtime, you’ll have the pleasure of ordering some sandwiches and the pizza of the day from next door. The menu at this spot is rather simple, but deeply intertwined with a modern, yet old-school Italian vibe that’s a quintessential part of the North End’s energy. If you’re lucky, you may even see Caffé Ducali’s Monte, a blue, three-wheeled Italian truck, cruising through the city streets on its way to its next catering destination.

duca.li/caffe

(617) 742-4144

289 Causeway St, Boston, MA 02114

Thinking Cup (Multiple locations)

Latte in cup with saucer

thinkingcup/Instagram

Thinking Cup is your chance to get beans from Stumptown Coffee Roasters within the city limits. The beans are shipped from the Brooklyn roasters directly to the Thinking Cup, which has locations in Boston Common, the North End, and Back Bay. The coffees are quite flavorful and very affordably priced, which is something that is quite rare to find — especially considering its storefronts are as in-the-city as it gets.

Although Thinking Cup doesn’t source its coffee from a local roaster, it still adds its own creative twist onto beverages and crafts its drinks with due care. Its mocha is made with house-made chocolate sauce, and it uses fresh, nutty hazelnut paste for its hazelnut latte rather than an artificial syrup. Thinking Cup also has numerous options for dairy-free and gluten-free eaters at its café. Regardless of which location you visit, you’ll be met with a warm smile, large selection of food and drink items, and a cozy atmosphere that will make you want to pull up a chair and stay awhile. 

thinkingcup.com

Multiple locations

1369 Coffee House (Multiple locations)

1369 Coffee House coffee, table

bengadwah/Instagram

If there’s one coffee shop on this list that has a cult-like following, it’s 1369. This spot is not only home to well-made and flavorful brews, but it also fosters a sense of community at both of its Cambridge locations. While the classic drinks are beloved here, its cold brew, which the shop has made in-house since 2001, is a shining star on its menu. Order a cup or purchase a growler to go. While you’re there, you might also want to choose one of the up to two dozen, locally roasted coffee varieties to take home with you. You’ll find (and can order by the cup) an impressive array of single-origin and French roasts. 1369 is so committed to offering high-quality coffee that it won’t sell any coffee that has gone more than 10 days past its roast date.

1369 Coffee House is also a good spot to take people who aren’t the same level of coffee fanatic as you are. The homemade hot chocolate is a tasty, warming classic for drinkers of all ages, while its lemonade is always made-to-order.

1369coffeehouse.com

Multiple locations

Madhouse Café in Roxbury

Coffee with picture and plant

madhouse.cafe/Instagram

Madhouse Café is one of Boston’s buzziest coffee shops. But don’t be fooled — its atmosphere, vibes, and menu are far from traditional. This also extends to its location, which is in the same building as Madhouse Motors. You’ll find the standard drink offerings, all made with Broadsheet’s beans, but you’ll also come across a distinctive Middle Eastern flair that influences almost every corner of this Roxbury shop. And there’s no better example than the beloved sweet tahini latte that adorns its menu, which is infused with tahini, molasses, cane sugar, and sea salt. We’d also be remiss not to mention the tantalizing trays of baklava in its pastry case.

Besides the refreshing beverages and earthy, yet gilded décor, patrons at this shop absolutely love the care and effort that goes into every cup and platter. It’s brimming with life and fun energy, and it’s just something that you have to see, feel, and taste for yourself.

madhousecafe.com

(617) 620-1501

24 Blue Hill Ave, Boston, MA 02119

Methodology

Boston cityscape above water

Denistangneyjr/Getty Images

There were numerous factors that went into deciding which coffee shops were worthy of visiting in Boston. The key factor in the selection process was, above all, the quality of the coffee beverage. Each location should have a dedication to the craftsmanship and artistry that could go into a good cup of coffee. Moreover, each coffee shop that made this list had to offer several different coffee beverages or specialize in coffee, rather than offering a couple of one-off beverages on its menu.

I used, first and foremost, my personal experience at several of these shops, as well as recommendations from city-goers and coffee fanatics. I also cross-referenced well-established regional and local publications, as well as verified reviewers, to ensure that this list was an accurate reflection of the best coffee spots Boston has to offer.

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