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Boston Coffee Roasters

  • j

Yet another transplanted New Yorker, I'm looking for a good place to buy coffee beans. Any recs?

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  1. I have given up on anything Starbucks. If you like Oren's in NYC then this place has it beat: http://www.blackbearcoffee.com/ Order 10 lbs and you get a great discount. The Kenya AA is and the other straights and nationals are all really good. Unfortunately, there aren't too many independent coffee shops that have their own brand or roasts of beans that aren't $14/pound and up. I go to Whole Foods in a pinch; the Allegro brand is very good but pricey.

    1. Is there a good local source of high quality, freshly-roasted coffee with a wide range of origins?? I can't wait to learn of this...

      After many attempts local sourcing (Hogan Bros. at Pemberton and Terroir at Whole Foods are the leading contenders and I had high hopes for Flatblack Jack's downtown, but it's not all that fresh tasting to me) --

      we rely almost exclusively on Peet's (for turnover and variety, I prefer the Harvard Sq shop to downtown or Lexington, but all are the most consistently fresh and well-roasted that I have found in person).

      Whole Foods Allegro will do in a pinch for fresh beans, but the roasting seems grossly inconsistent.

      Mail order is another option we also do monthly with www.bluebottlecoffee.net -- truly awesome and fresh -- best of any of the many web-based options, but more per lb. (highly recommend the Bella Donovan blend/roast).

      6 Replies
      1. re: rlh

        I have to give a resounding second to blue bottle coffee. Although not local (based out of Oakland) their coffee is fantastic. They are fanatical, I mean FANATICAL, about their coffee. I have a friend who is a barrista at a small shop in San Francisco. Blue Bottle Coffee approached them to serve their coffee. In order to do so, the cafe had to totally revamp how they make and serve the coffee in order to fit the company's policy to ensure their coffee is made and served to best showcase its flavoers. That meant getting rid of their usual drip brewers and using only french press or individual cup ceramic drip makers. My friend brought me a bag of their Bella Donovan on a recent visit - very fresh, complex aroma and taste. One of the best coffees I've ever had.

        1. re: rlh

          Drank some blue bottle in SF a few weeks ago. Very good!

          1. re: rlh

            I need to update this with a couple of recent finds which are nearby that merit mentioning - all are superior to Peets, Terroir, and Whole Foods Allegro - mostly due to consistent/under-roasting and freshness.

            Barismo - Arlington - on site roasting, limited range of options (Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Kenya, and maybe Mexico - nothing Pacific as of last week), slightly higher prices, erratic operating hours, but they are really friendly types and supply stellar beans meticulously roasted!

            Biscuit - via website ecookbooks.com - comes from Foxboro and has the highest quality to price ratio with a wide range of single source beans freshly-roasted (free, really fast shipping with about 2 lbs or more order - you have to mention the free shipping offer in the notes field on your order and they really take off the charges). Their Guatemalan is amazing.

            Mocha Joe's - Brattleboro, VT with a good website - fair prices, great beans - reasonable shipping and very fast. Their Costa Rica La Minita is awesome.

            1. re: rlh

              If you want mail order, we buy coffees from Kaldi Gourmet. Really more of a wholesale operation, minimum order of 5 pounds, but the quality and the prices are just amazing. We are working on some Sumatran and some El Salvdoran right now that are just out of this world. Comparable coffees elsewhere would be at least twice the $.


              1. re: StriperGuy

                Thanks - amazing low prices, but I don't think we go through enough to buy in 5 lb increments - but in the not local, mail order, internet category of truly excellent beans, I would also add:

                Counter Culture (NC-based, like Kaldi - there's a NYC storefront (can't remember the name) in/around the East Village using these beans to make the best expresso I've ever had - yes, even better than Blue Bottle in SF.

              2. re: rlh

                Here's a tip for the Biscuit coffee--during the holiday season, they usually run a special where they give you a pound of the Biscuit coffee for *free* at New England Mobile Book Fair if you spend $100, which isn't hard to do there. It's pretty good, and free, it's even better.

            2. i assume you mean roasted coffee beans. i agree with others that peets is pretty good. i also like terroir quite a bit, but it is expensive. there are a number of locations in boston where you can get the beans; simon's cafe in cambridge for instance. i think whole foods might also carry them. you can also try velouria cafe in jamaica plain, which has several varieties of terroir on hand (he's got a brew-on-demand system) so you can sample different varieties to see which you prefer. i don't know if he sells the beans, though. finally, there's diesel cafe in davis sq., which serves intelligentsia. you can buy whole beans from them (though, perversely, they won't grind them for you.) these are my favorites, anyway.

              7 Replies
              1. re: autopi

                True Grounds in Ball Square has the Terroir beans as well.

                True Grounds
                715 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                1. re: heathermb

                  there is a place in southie called PS, they only have like 5 flavours of beans for sale, but the italian roast is awesome!

                2. re: autopi

                  Whole Foods does sell Terroir beans, as does Clear Flour Bakery.

                  1. re: autopi

                    I find Peets and Terroir to be quite different roasts. You don't really know if you're getting a quality bean if they burn it, nor does it matter by that point. Maybe I just haven't been to Peet's in awhile.
                    Do they sell medium-low roasted coffee? I thought it was all dark.

                    1. re: uman

                      well they both do several different roasts, so i suppose it's what you are comparing. i usually get the peet's house blend, and don't find it too dark or burnt at all. certainly not like starbucks, from what i recall. (haven't had starbucks in awhile.) i've had several terroir varieties, but they have all been lighter and fruitier than the peets. i like them both, so i have no complaints. but sure, ymmv.

                    2. re: autopi

                      Diesel usually has bags of both ground and whole beans out, and if you don't see what you want they've always been happy to grind it for me.

                      1. re: Parsnipity

                        that may be a policy change b/w when this thread first was active and now. i was told a year or two ago that they would NOT grind the beans (purchased from them) for me. something about how they had their grinders set up. also, at that point, i think the only option they had was whole bean, at least on the occasions i was there.

                        i did notice the last time i was there (a month or so ago) that, as you say, they had ground beans available for sale. if they are willing to grind them too, so much the better.

                    3. Our local coffee spot, Flat Black Coffee in Lower Mills, Dorchester is installing their own roaster.

                      They also have a branch in the Boston Society of Architects building on Broad Street in downtown Boston

                      They have plans for a shop at Ashmont Station, which is good for local commuters.

                      They already have coffee to drive for, but deserve their own baker/pastry chef. That would enhance the yum...

                      1. Whole Foods in Fresh Pond roasts their own beans, and has a decent selection. I'm not sure if any other locations roast their own.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bear

                          River Street certainly does, and I saw someone buy green beans from the guy manning the roaster once.

                        2. This brings up a huge problem I am having. I am looking for a particular roast of coffee from Java Tree coffee called Durango Dark Roast. It makes the best pot of french press coffee I have ever had but I cannot find here. Can any one help me? The two pound bag I moved back with is almost gone.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                            I would call Flat Back and request it. I think they are looking to grow and might welcome your question.

                            1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                              did you email them to see where they may distribute in the area?

                            2. The Catonesse place in Acton that hargau has been raving about also sells coffee, specifically terrior beans, I think.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: raddoc

                                New England Coffee Roasters on Charles St in Malden not only roasts all their own coffee they have a retail outlet where you can buy the freshly roasted beans. I tell you my neighborhood smells wonderful almost everynight about 5:00 when the roasters are at full speed. We also get the wonderful smells of bread cooking from Piantiadosi's Bakery around the corner.

                                1. re: MeffaBabe

                                  i lived there for 15 yrs smelled like burnt toast all the time lol
                                  their coffee is not in the same league as the others mentioned here

                                  1. re: foodperv

                                    I roast my own coffee at home - the burnt toast smell is normal. As the green beans are roasted, the aromas change from a kind of spicy smell, to burnt toast, to the actual familiar coffee roasted smell.

                                    That said, I'd avoid NE Coffee Roasters. I'm from Malden originally, and unless they've changed drastically (which I doubt), you'll just get a very poor quality bean there.

                                    1. re: foodperv

                                      I worked right near there for a year and in the summer months the smell was overwhelming. Made me NOT want coffee!

                                      1. re: heathermb

                                        I also roast coffee at home and enjoy the smell in Malden center most mornings, although dunno if its stronger at night. I think Polcari's sources most of its whole bean coffee from NE CR, so MeffaBabe isn't the only one suggesting it.

                                        The smell though, makes me wish that TC's still had their caffe open. However, for a good selection of imported Italian espresso beans, drive down Main St into Everett to check out Regina's.

                                2. If you can get out to it, I like Armeno Coffee Roasters, in Northborough. They roast their own, and do a great job, IMHO. Here's a link: https://www.armeno.com/store/

                                  Around town, I get my beans from Peet's. If you're looking for good coffee beans at the best prices around, you could try Polcari's, on Salem St. in the North End. I don't think they're as good as Peet's, but they cost about 40% less.

                                  1. Red Barn does in Upton, Ma. They have stores in Faneuil Hall and the Longwood Galleria if you aren't near the Metrowest.

                                    Red Barn Coffee Roasters
                                    2 Walker Dr, Upton, MA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: steve999

                                      Freshness varies widely at Faneuil Hall Red Barn - be sure to check the sell by date on the bottom of the bag - it should be at least a month in the future in my experience there.

                                    2. Aside from learning how to roast your own (really easy, btw), I'd recommend The Atomic Cafe in Beverly (they also have one in Marblehead, but I haven't been to that one yet).

                                      Run by two brothers - they roast their own and are very particular - believe me, they know their beans.

                                      If you ever decide to venture into roasting your own (so very easy, but terribly addictive :>), a great source for beans for roasting is Tom & Maria who run Sweet Maria's online. It's a small, personable, family run business. Can't even begin to describe how pleased I am with Tom & Maria, & their crew. They also have a limited selection of preroasted coffee that can be ordered, too.

                                      Also - if anyone is interested in roasting their own coffee, shoot me an email - lynnebizatgmail...



                                      Atomic Cafe
                                      265 Cabot St, Beverly, MA

                                      Atomic Cafe
                                      14 School St, Marblehead, MA 01945

                                      1. I am frustrated with Whole Foods on River Street in Cambridge. They used to have a really big section with fresh roasted coffee. Now they have minimized it and yesterday the dates on the roasting bins were dated a day later!

                                        Either someone doesn't know what day it is, or this is intentional. I hope it's not the later.

                                        Anyway, It's good to know where you can get freshly roasted coffee in the area now.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jazzwoman

                                          I bought some beans at Barismo on mass. ave in East Arlington recently....very good stuff. Their hours vary....go to www.barismo.com to find contact info. They roast the beans there. I also bought a grinder from them.

                                        2. As a coffee obsessive, I feel it my duty to respond, even though it's all been said at some point in this years-long thread.

                                          We have three huge coffee roasting stars in the area, by my estimation.

                                          Terroir is the direct descendant of the old Coffee Connection, which brought great fresh roasted coffee to this part of the world some 25 years ago. Roasted in Acton and available in Whole Foods and many local cafes, Terroir coffee tend to be lighter roasted than most others these days and focused on bright, fruity acidity. They also do some darker roasts, but even their espresso is a bit lighter than others.

                                          Atomic Cafe on the north shore, available in Cambridge at Simon's. Much of their stuff is good quality dark roasted blends, but they have certain coffees that warrant a lighter treatment, and these really give Terroir a run.

                                          Barismo is a brand new roaster in Arlington. Really excellent. Still developing his style, but so far he seems to be chasing a similar thing as Terroir, but at a bit darker roast point. Really shines with espresso. Find it at Simon's too.

                                          There are many other good small local roasters, but these are the three that get me really excited.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: jajjguy

                                            jajjguy, how would you compare atomic cafe w/barismo? is one darker than the other?

                                            1. re: autopi

                                              My data on both are a bit thin... But my sense is that most of Atomic's stuff is pretty dark, closer to Peet's/Starbucks, but they do certain beans lighter. Not as light as Terroir, but same idea. Barismo is still working out his style, and so far is a notch or two darker than Terroir. So Atomic's lighter stuff and Barismo are in the same neighborhood in terms of roast level.

                                            2. re: jajjguy

                                              I'd really recommend that you consider trying Armeno Coffee Roasters, in Northboro. They do a great job, tend to specialize in "full city" roasts (though personally I prefer darker roasts, and typically buy Peets).

                                              1. re: winedude

                                                Thanks, I'll certainly put them on my list for next time I take a drive out west. Can their coffee be found anywhere in the Boston area?

                                            3. I also had been looking for good roasters around here. I was spoiled when I was in CT by http://www.thecoffeetrade.com/ Coffee Trade in Avon. They roast all their own and have a wide variety of light/medium/dark roasts. It's a small mom & pop type place but they have the best coffee!! They do phone or internet orders and have a coffee club (buy 12 lbs, get one free). They are wonderful people who do NOT burn their coffee. I know it's not "local" but they are better than I've found here.