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Taste Coffee House

Name: Taste Coffee House
Location: 311 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA
Roasters: Terroir and various guest coffees

Rating: 3+

Taste Coffee House fully embraces its coffeehouse moniker. Inside you’ll find a casual atmosphere, chalkboard menus, sandwiches and salads, (beer and wine) and a firmly loyal, local crowd. Taste lacks the slick sense of interior design that these days is so often the hallmark of good coffee. The surprise, however, is that Taste is no lemon. Under the hood you’ll find quality coffees, a three group Synesso Cyncra and a team of skilled baristas hard at work. Driving Taste is Nikolas Krankl, who recently placed second in the Northeast Regional Barista Competition and made it to the semi-finals of the USBC.

Coffee options at Taste revolve around the espresso which changes on a somewhat regular basis. During my visit last summer, the selection was Ecco Caffe’s Brazil Cachoeria, but Taste, specifically Nikolas, has also worked with Barismo and Terroir to develop (and serve) blends. The Ecco shot I had was quite good for a single-origin Brazil. Nothing snazzy, but solidly spicy – cinnamon and clove – earthy and sweet with a mild acidity and an full, found body. Its flaw, if you could call it that, was its singular, perhaps too simple profile (4-). I’d be eager to see what Taste could do with a good blend, such as the competition Terroir blend, it’s likely serving these days.

I suppose the downside to Taste is the lack of high quality alternatives to their singular espresso option. Taste doesn’t do a second espresso, and while they  sell beans from a variety of roasters (I saw Terroir, Ritual and Barismo on the shelves), filter coffee options are all from Terroir/GHCC and not too exciting at that. The menu lists a light, dark and decaf with all coffees being brewed via the Fetco and stored in thermal carafes (if this setup has changed since last summer, someone please let me know).

I opted for the light roast, which, at the time, was a coffee from Colombia. Despite the limited information provided on it, the coffee was pretty good – with a nice caramel sweetness and some good acidity that was neither too sour nor bright (3). It was good enough to order again, but failed to capture my imagination.

While there are good arguments in favor of the Fetco brewer (mass production and repetition with a reasonably high degree of quality), I just don’t see how one can’t prefer a brew-to-order option from a purely “best coffee” consumer perspective. This bit of wisdom seems especially true when that brew-to-order option is well-executed as it would no doubt be at Taste, given the level of quality they deliver on the espresso side of the shop.

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