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Nov 8, 2005 03:10 PM

ISO good coffee

  • b

With 183 Dunkin Donuts and 61 Starbucks locations in Boston, is this a case of Gresham's law (bad money drives out good) applied to coffee? Is anybody serving good coffee in Boston (apologies to DD and *$ fans)?

Cafenation website looks like they are on the right track. I found one good review of Flatblack Coffee. 1369 Coffeehouse and Cafe Pamplona also acheive good notices on various web sites. Where's a discriminating coffee drinker to go for a good cup of joe in Bean Town?


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  1. Yes, there is good coffee, check out:

    Torrefazione Cafe on Newbury St., down towards Arlington.

    Also, Cafe Paradiso in the North End and in Harvard Sq

    10 Replies
    1. re: El J

      Didn't Torre. close? I thought it looked it when I walked by a few weeks ago.

      I always recommend the Red Barn in the Longwood Galleria and the non food court building at Fanueil Hall (plus one out Rt. 9).

      1. re: Joanie

        Yes, Torre is closed and another cafe is taking its place. The Virgin Megastore cafe *used* to serve TorreFazione coffee, but I'm not sure if it does anymore.

        The cafe that is replacing TorreFazione has a really lame faux-Italian name. Names say a lot, and I'm not optimistic about that place, sadly. But, the proof will be in the pudding, of course. Or coffee in this case.

        1. re: Alcachofa

          To spread another likely false rumor I heard that the replacement for TorreFazione is going to be run by some of the same people that ran TF. You used to be able to get TF coffee at Wine and Cheese Cask.

          It's a shame, after Copa Cafe closed, TorreFazione was my favorite.

          1. re: g

            New name is L'Aroma.

            Coworkers were regulars at the place. They went in a couple of months ago and asked for an explanation, here is what THEY said HE said: Torre used to be part-owned by Starbucks (supposedly they do this in some markets?). The relationship ended, but the manager/non-Starbucks owner decided to keep the place running. Legals/logistics of the "split" meant he had to briefly close down to get the proper permits, change the name, other paperwork, and then they could reopen. He says nothing about this place will change other than the name; indeed he felt so bad for my coworkers when they were there and without coffee that he offered to make them a cappuccino, since all the machines were still up and running.

            Could be more rumors feeding the flames....

            1. re: seekaltroutes

              Yes, "L'Aroma", that sounds right....that name is not THAT bad. I must have been in a bad mood when I saw the sign. Or most likely just cranky that Torrefazione was closed. Plus, it took me about a year to figure out how to pronounce Torrefazione.

              1. re: Alcachofa

                Jus tried "L'Aroma" yesterday. Coffee is better than TI. Tough for me to say that 'cause I use to love TI.
                You should check it out.

      2. re: El J

        ok, i feel i have to object. caffe paradiso (in harvard sq) has some of the worst swill i've ever had in my life. maybe if you get an espresso-based drink, it's better, but for regular coffee--come on. boston coffee has been pretty excreable in my experience, though i haven't tried that many local places yet-- centre street cafe (ok), junebug cafe (horrible), caffe paradiso, 1369 (forgettable--and the insufferable atmosphere!) and maybe one or two others i'm forgetting. makes starbucks actually look decent.

        on the other hand, peets usually makes a fine cup. i've yet to try diesel, in davis square, which brews intelligenstia coffee from chicago. i used to live a few blocks from intelligentsia and went there literally every day. i have not found a coffee that even comes close to theirs in terms of richness, depth of flavor, smoothness and so on, so i take that as a positive sign for diesel.

        1. re: autopi

          I love Intelligentsia coffee and that is usually what I brew at home. However, I find the coffee at Diesel to be barely drinkable, probably because they use burners instead of airpots. The best beans in the world can't fix burned stale coffee.

          1. re: autopi

            I'll agree with you on Diesel, but I object to favorable characterizations of Peets. The place is filthy, I mean gross dirt ew, and the coffee tasted about the same when I went last week.

            1. re: sharpless

              Oh, come on, how on earth does coffee taste "filthy"?

        2. t

          There are plenty of indie coffeehouses that aim to please--any particular locale?

          2 Replies
          1. re: tatamagouche

            Let's see... I'm fond of JP Licks right now (considering they roast their own and their 10th store went into BU Hillel, where I spend 20+ hrs a week). Espresso Royale on comm ave is good... 1369 is great... Trident Books on Newbury is good... Cafe Appassionato in Newtonville used to be good (I think they went downhill when they sold out three years back)

            1. re: PhotoGeek

              Cafe Appassionato WAS good, but now it's something else. Now they are horrid.

          2. I think Peets is tops -- locations in at least Harvard Sq, downtown, Coolidge Corner, Newton Center, and Lexington.

            For drip coffees at least, 1369 (both locations) is a favorite, as is Quebrada in Arlington, Diesel in Davis Sq, and the Danish Pastry House in Watertown. Cafe Arpeggio in South Boston is pretty good, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rlh

              I second the Diesel Cafe in Davis. They serve Intelligentsia Coffee (an award winning roaster in Chicago I believe), and I love its flavor. The decaf to me has a lot of chocolate flavor to it. Yum.

              I'm forgetting the name of the cafe in Ball Square in Somerville, sorry, but it serves Terroir coffee which is supposed to be great.

              1. re: dillard

                True Grounds.

                And yes, the coffee is great.

                BTW, Terroir coffee is also served at Flora, an upscale restaurant in Arlington.

            2. Now I like my DD and 'bucky's once in a while, but prefer:

              Diesel Cafe

              For something sweet, I like:
              cappuccinos at Casal Bakery in Inman Square
              Iced Vietnamese coffees from Pho Pasteur

              Also, recently I had a really fantastic latte at Espresso Royal (isn't that the name?) on Newbury Street - great flavor that reminded me of my morning cappuccinos in Italy last year. Really.

              I recall fondly the turkish coffee at the Helmand as well.

              1. b
                Bob Dobalina

                Red Barn Roasters in the historic Faneuil Hall (and other locations in and around Boston and burbs) has excellent coffee downtown.