Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Sep 25, 2009 04:58 PM

Best coffee in Harvard or Central

My mom is staying with me and wants to wake up early tomorrow to get some really good coffee and a bagel and cream cheese. My fiance and I don't drink coffee so we are clueless. She is walking, so we need something between (or in) Harvard Square and Central Square. She prefers not to go to a chain, but if its the best option, then thats fine. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Try Crema cafe on Brattle St. in Harvard Square for delicious coffee (George Howell and Terroir). They have a pastry chef who bakes everything onsite in the morning.

    1. How about Petsi Pies on Putnam (just off of the Mount Auburn/Mass Ave split)? They serve well-brewed Rao's coffee (yummy hot or iced) and have a number of truly wonderful and unique breakfast items, although I'm not sure about bagels (you'll be hard pressed to find a truly great bagel in the Boston metro area anyway). You can get everything from a savory frittata to the very best scones I have eaten on this planet to this pecan-sweet potato breakfast bun that will knock your socks off.

      1. Crema has great coffee (and great espresso), and does a pretty good bagel as well, although for my money the scones or English muffins are the way to go there.

        1. It sounds like she is looking for a place to enjoy breakfast while you and your fiance sleep in. Given that, I'd aim for top coffee shops not just with good coffee, but also good food, service, and decor.

          Crema (Brattle Square), as mentioned, is excellent. Cute shop, excellent espresso products (I've never had their drip coffee), and good baked goods. While their bagels are good, their english muffins are outstanding.

          1369 (Central Square, far west side) is a fun, slightly funky coffee shop with both good espresso and drip coffee. Good baked goods, including bagels. Classic Cambridge.

          Mariposa Bakery (Central Square, far east side) is a good bakery with very good bagels, which they "toast" by putting in a panini press (or similar), giving a great grilled texture. Both espresso and drip coffee is good. House-made oatmeal is fantastic.

          I'd probably just point her at whichever of these are the closest to you. If you live in between Central and Harvard Sq, that is likely 1369. Directions are dead simple: Walk down Mass Ave until you hit 1369 Mass Ave on your left, just past City Hall and the Post Office. There is a 7-11 across the street, if she wants to pick up a newspaper.

          6 Replies
          1. re: rlove

            rlove, you hit the nail on the head. We are sleeping in!

            I'm sending her to Crema... I never would have thought of that! Petsi Pies was also an awesome suggestion, but they open a little too late on saturdays. Thanks again!

            1. re: rlove

              Actually, the 1369's address is 757 Mass Ave. (The 1369 comes from its other location, at 1369 Cambridge Street, in Inman Square.)

              1. re: Blumie

                Ack, indeed, you are right! Thanks for the clarification. Luckily it sounds as if thunderbug's mother went to Crema.

                1. re: rlove

                  So yes, my mom did end up going to Crema. It MADE her trip! She had some wonderful coffee with her bagel. While she was there, she recognized the laugh of the guys sitting next to her and she said "you guys must get this a lot, but you sound just like the Tappet brothers." They said "well, we do get that a lot... because we ARE the Tappet brothers." Anyways, she ended up spending almost 2 hours hanging out with the Car Talk guys having a blast. Thanks again for the recommendation!!

                  1. re: thunderbug84

                    That is an awesome story. You can't take her anywhere, I guess.

                    1. re: thunderbug84

                      OMG---I met Tom of Car Talk at Crema myself, in much the same manner (recognized his laugh). He is just as funny in person, and really great about hanging out with random people who recognize his voice. I guess he is a regular there.

              2. Toscanini's on Main St in Central makes fantastic coffee. They also have a nice brunch menu on Sat and Sunday.