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Jan 27, 2007 12:54 PM

Z square--decent coffee?

Since Toscanini's closed, where does one manage to get a decent cup of coffee in the square? I am missing my daily latte/ice cream tasting badly. The sign in the now defunct Toscanini's store front says that Z square uses the same George Howell's coffee. My two experiences with sandwiches there have been bad--would anyone be able to comment on the coffee? Where in your opinion is the next best coffee in the square? Takeout only. Proximity to Widener preferable. I have been going to Finale this week, but it can be very slow.

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    1. re: rlh

      peets is good if you like really roasty. i've never tried z square's coffee either, but like the op i have not been impressed with the food. if that doesn't pan out, probably starbucks is the next best bet for american coffee after peets.

    2. walk a bit up mt auburn to Darwins for coffee

      1. In addition to Peet's, I think Paradiso pulls excellent espresso. Some find it a bit too dark or bitter. Never had the Toscanini's espresso, so I can't really compare.

        I also very much enjoy Pamplona's coffee, although I've never done take-out, and will be the first to admit that the ambience (or lack thereof) is part of the distinct charm.

        Excellent, my recs alliterate. How fitting for erudite Harvard Square...

        3 Replies
        1. re: finlero

          I'd prefer a place less erudite and more epicurean. When a place like Flat Patties is oft mentioned, not unreasonably, as a top lunch option; when Felipe's, Pinocchio's, and Bartley's are considered the cheap food standouts; and when the coffee shop war comes down to the aforementioned candidates, I think there's something wrong. Sorry to vent my Harvard Square frustration in this thread. But I'll be so, so glad to graduate!

          More on point...I don't think Paradiso or Pamplona are good takeout coffee choices. I do think the espresso at Paradiso may be the best in the Square.

          1. re: fenian

            Yes--I entirely agree. The quality of food in the square now is a disgrace, particularly at the cheaper/fast-casual end of the market. Places like Iruna, Brew Moon, or the lovely Skewers weren't top restaurants by any means, but they were unique and a vast improvement on Z square, Flat Patties etc. There are almost no choices for decent espresso based coffee. Paradiso and the Italian cafe in the Charles hotel (Pronto?) are two of the best, but they're a long walk in this weather from the yard. I have reluctantly contented myself with Starbucks. Hi-Rise and Finale (which the OP has tried) are not bad. Z square lattes are incredibly weak, based around a smallish single espresso. I find Peet's overrated.

            1. re: katielp

              Have you eaten at Flat Patties? I can find twenty people who will vow that they have the best fish sandwich they've ever had.