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Just Another Man Visits Boston

Good things come to those who wait. At least I hope the old adage still holds true. You see, I visited several of Boston’s cafes last summer (and quite a few elsewhere in New England as well), but never ended up writing about them. I’m not sure if it was procrastination or deep-seated indecision, but eventually, I just got behind. After a while it had just been such a long time that I got embarrassed to post this information, worrying about the relevance and accuracy. Fortunately for me, most of you didn’t know you were waiting.

The fates intervened, however, providing me with an opportunity to return to Boston and some of the surrounding area recently. This trip gave me some much needed peace of mind about the accuracy of my previous notes, letting me correct those details that needed correcting. I was also able to look into some places that either weren’t there the first time around or which I just never got to visit. The result is that I’m finally ready to write a post from the man to make you understand all the good things (and some bad) going on with coffee in this part of the country.

I’ll get to the details in subsequent posts, but I’ll say broadly that I have more than a feeling that there are some really good things going on in Boston’s coffee scene (not that there aren’t also some good things going on in the rest of New England as well). Part of me doesn’t find this surprising given that die hard New Englanders have long seen the merits of lighter roasted coffee, preferring Dunkin’ Donuts to Starbucks. Then again they often approach change with the stubborness of a mule and flat out fail to embrace anything that could be perceived as change. It’s also the birthplace of “regelah” coffee, which I can only see as a kind of predecessor to today’s heavily sweetened, milky coffee drinks when “regular” should, in fact, mean the opposite of decaf.

Coffee in Boston has been trending in a good way for a while. The extremely passionate folks at Barismo have been pushing for improved quality, transparency and better brew methods since they got started a few years ago. Not only do they carry quite a few coffees that have been well-received on this blog but serve as a supplier of Hario products for the area. One also can’t ignore the venerable voice of George Howell who has contributed to coffee by helping to create the Cup of Excellence program and otherwise supporting various efforts to improve the green side of coffee. His current company, Terroir, is certainly the larger of the two, well-known, reputable roasters in Boston.

More exciting, though, is that Boston cafes have begun to embrace the concept of serving coffees from multiple roasters, a few of which existed during my visit last summer and even more of which are cropping up now.  Simon’s Coffee Shop has been and still does offer coffees from both Barismo and Terroir/GHCC.  Others, like Hi-Rise (at the Blacksmith) or newbie Pavement, are combining Barismo with various guest coffees. SIP is doing the same with Terroir. Finally, spots like Caffe Fixe and Taste have long been rotating various coffees, usually 2 or more at a time, as they see fit.  Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that these cafes all tend to be doing a good job with their coffee, often exploring various brew methods as well as multiple roasters.

So now that everyone is waiting, I guess I’d better make it good.

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