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Thinking Cup on Tremont Street - report

beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 11:23 AM

I've been to Thinking Cup fairly often in the last month. They are the only local purveyors of Stumptown Roasters Coffee (originally from Portland, OR). Unfortunately, I am not a fan of their coffee. I'm just talking straight coffee, not their espressos, lattes or anything fancy. I can't quite put my finger as to why I am not keen on the coffee, maybe a little bitter (I drink it straight) and not coffee-ey enough for me.

But, their savory egg sandwiches and pastries are really something else.

I've had two different egg sandwich specials and one standard egg sandwich. The specials are always on perfectly toasted toast. And, the sandwiches are made with care. When you take a bite, there isn't any slippage of stuff. The flavors were balanced and there were also contrasting textures and temperatures (fresh spinach leaves v. the softness of the egg v. the crunchiness of the toast).

But the pastries. Wow, the pastries. I've tried the banana chocolate chip muffin (beautiful top), chocolate croissant (flaky, buttery, soft chocolatey nutella tasting filling but with dark chocolate), triple chocolate mousse cake (fine crumb), chocolate bombe (chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate shell) and two different kinds of cupcakes (just the right amount of frosting). Everything was delicious.

Also of note is the french hot chocolate. The servings are small but the taste is rich and chocolaty. This is a dessert in and of itself.

I would go for the breakfast sandwiches or pastries or hot chocolate. I just wish I liked the coffee better to go with the pastries.

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Tremont Cafe
418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

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    emannths RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 11:28 AM

    Bloc 11 and Diesel Cafe also sell Stumptown coffee (house blend, decaf, hair bender), if you consider Somerville "local."

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    Bloc 11 Cafe
    11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

    4 Replies
    1. re: emannths
      beetlebug RE: emannths Feb 9, 2011 11:30 AM

      Somerville is more local for me. But, this is what the coffee guy at Thinking Cup told me. But, since I don't really like their coffee, I won't be seeking it out.

      1. re: beetlebug
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        Barista Phil RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 12:21 PM

        Just want to clarify... The staff at thinking cup should be aware that we mention to customers that we are the only shop to exclusively serve Stumptown. I have even gone as far as recommending other shops that serve/sell Stumptown like Pavement, Cafe Fixe, and Diesel, who sells their beans but doesn't brew it. These are all great shops and the people that run them have been very supportive of us and what we are doing.

        1. re: Barista Phil
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          emannths RE: Barista Phil Feb 9, 2011 12:29 PM

          Thanks for the clarification. FWIW, last time I was at Diesel buying beans they were serving brewed Stumptown. At least that's what their chalkboard said.

          1. re: emannths
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            Barista Phil RE: emannths Feb 9, 2011 12:54 PM

            Thanks for the clarification on that! It's been about a month and a half for me and at that point they were just doing retail bags.

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      9lives RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 11:32 AM

      Ms 9 has become a fan of Thinking Cup too.

      1. tatsu RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 11:35 AM

        This is a nice place to work, but it has no wifi. I bring my own network. I find their coffee pretty good, they do decent handpours. It's very comfortable.

        11 Replies
        1. re: tatsu
          beetlebug RE: tatsu Feb 9, 2011 11:38 AM

          I knew I forgot something. The space is lovely and comfortable. Quite charming. People are nice. Really just what the neighborhood needed.

          1. re: beetlebug
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            Gordough RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 11:44 AM

            I wonder if they can make a proper Cortado

            1. re: Gordough
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              Barista Phil RE: Gordough Feb 9, 2011 12:26 PM

              Gordough, that all depends on the current opinion of a proper cortado. Our cappuccino may be what some consider a cortado. It's five ounces total made with a double ristretto. Our macchiatto may be what some consider, it's more of the traditional cortado ratio of 1:1 espresso/foamed milk. Hope that helps!

              1. re: Barista Phil
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                Gordough RE: Barista Phil Jul 28, 2011 09:57 AM

                I tried to order a Cortado here about a week ago and the Baristas all looked at my like I had 2 heads. No one had even heard of it let alone had the first clue how to make it.

                1. re: Gordough
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                  hckybg RE: Gordough Jul 28, 2011 10:04 AM

                  Did they do it after you explained? It's simple enough.

                  I live near one of the 1369 locations and find that they make a very good one - with microfoam and all - if you are in search of other options.

                  1. re: hckybg
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                    Gordough RE: hckybg Jul 28, 2011 10:29 AM

                    they tried but while it wasn't terrible it wasn't great either. They were also annoyed with me and swore what I was looking for was called a macchiatto

                    1. re: Gordough
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                      hckybg RE: Gordough Jul 28, 2011 01:52 PM

                      It does seem like a lot of places make a macchiato similar to a Cortado. I guess the major difference being that Cortados would typically have more milk and only microfoam. But then sometimes you get a macchiato that is actually just a dollop of foamed milk in an espresso, which is the classic version. I often ask how a place makes a macchiato when I want one and feel like I get a lot of blank stares. And then I have been to other places where they ask if you want a "regular macchiato" or a "Starbucks macchiato." So there you go. As Oliver Strand of the New York Times titles his Tumblr blog, "A Cortado is Not a Minivan."

            2. re: beetlebug
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              hckybg RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 01:55 PM

              I really liked their espresso, maybe you could try an Americano and see if it would be more your taste? Or a pour over (which I haven't tried). The staff is very nice; the barista even indulged all my questions and gave me some grounds to try at home (maybe that was Barista Phil!?). Other places do brew Stumptown, but not exclusively and I haven't seen the single origins used at other places (though that doesn't mean they aren't--I'd be surprised if Pavement didn't pull Stumptown single origin espresso sometimes).

              1. re: hckybg
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                Barista Phil RE: hckybg Feb 9, 2011 02:56 PM

                Hckbg, that was me and I remember you! Pavement does pull single origin spo I believe, so does Fixe, I had a great Ethiopia mordecoffe a few months back! It's great to find great coffee in little shops tucked away in the city:) Boston is really staring to feel like a coffee community you see in otter big cities!

                1. re: Barista Phil
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                  hckybg RE: Barista Phil Feb 9, 2011 04:42 PM

                  Thanks for your help! We now have two manual grinders which I am looking forward to trying, a new Kyocera and a c. 1950s PeDe. I'll look forward to our next visit to Thinking Cup.

              2. re: beetlebug
                tatsu RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 01:59 PM

                Quite comfy indeed my ass is parked in one of their banquettes right now. I'm the dummy eating a cheesecake at 6 in the evening.

            3. maillard RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2011 12:24 PM

              Those egg sandwiches sound so good! I wish they'd put their menu online...

              1. Bob Dobalina RE: beetlebug Feb 10, 2011 04:14 AM

                Stopped in this morning - yummy egg sandwich with a spicy sausage patty and good cheddar cheese. It's $4, which I feel like is priced right, considering the DD equivalent is $3.20. On a standard everything bagel - toast sounds great but crumbs and business don't mix.

                Brewed coffee was fine if a tad bit weak for my tastes.

                Cute place for that ignored stretch of Tremont - will interesting to see if they can draw enough foot traffic - if they have sidewalk seating in the summer, will surely be a good thing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                  beetlebug RE: Bob Dobalina Feb 10, 2011 06:42 AM

                  C had his breakfast sandwich with an english muffin. Not as crumbly as toast but a bit more manageable than a bagel. How were the proportions of stuff to bagel? Often times, I find that the bagel is too big for the stuff and the balance is all off.

                  1. re: beetlebug
                    Bob Dobalina RE: beetlebug Feb 10, 2011 07:08 AM

                    I thought it was just right. The patty was full size - It was not swallowed up by the bagel, thought the bagel was a bit too doughy - would have appreciated it grilled or double-toasted. Honestly, the bagel to me seemed like the typical bagged bagel - so not exceptional, but perfectly adequate.

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                  BlueTrain84 RE: beetlebug Feb 10, 2011 06:16 AM

                  I definitely need to make it back to try the food and pastries! Bf and I stopped by a few weeks ago and tried a cappuccino and the french hot chocolate, and both were fantastic. It's great to have this as an option around that stretch of Tremont St, I hope they do well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BlueTrain84
                    beetlebug RE: BlueTrain84 Feb 10, 2011 06:41 AM

                    I had that french hot chocolate two weeks ago and haven't stopped raving about it to friends. I can almost taste it in my head.

                  2. Alcachofa RE: beetlebug Jul 28, 2011 08:07 AM

                    Finally made it to Thinking Cup this morning. I also generally drink coffee straight (i.e., not capuccino, latte, etc.), and I liked it. A little sharper than the somewhat better and silkier coffee at Sip Cafe (which I just went to yesterday), but still several steps above S'bux. (Do I even have to compare it to Dunkin'? Hope not.)

                    I do think that the people on this board who think all these places over-roast their coffee will probably feel the same about Thinking Cup. Not sure if they'll feel that way about Sip.

                    By the way, by point of reference, my favorite coffee right now is from Sportello (I work near there.) Smooth but still very rich, the way I like it. Baked goods there have been hit-or-miss for me, and in fact mostly miss. I prefer the baked goods at Flour, but the coffee at Flour is just not good, surprisingly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Alcachofa
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                      hckybg RE: Alcachofa Jul 28, 2011 08:23 AM

                      A number of people on the board have complained that George Howell underroasts his coffee; interestingly, that is what Sip uses. Thinking Cup uses Stumptown, which I guess is a darker roast than Howell, but I don't think it is an unusually dark roast. I like both, but I am not too picky about how dark coffee is roasted.

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                      FoodTruth RE: beetlebug Jul 28, 2011 01:25 PM

                      My office is near Thinking Cup and we get their beans sometimes. I did not like their drip coffee either. I believe it is Holler Mountain (and was told it doesn't change). I didn't like it brewed in my office either. Yes, something about the taste of it really rubs me the wrong way.

                      I've had much better luck with some of the other varieties, but unfortunately they don't change the beans for the coffee they serve. I believe you can get an individual pour over cup and you might want to try that.

                      One final note, if you buy beans there, make sure to check the roast date on the bottom. Picked up a bag the other day that was 3 weeks ago. IMHO, not acceptable for $15 (for 12 ounces) coffee. In fairness to them, they took it off the shelf and thanked me for noticing (everybody's allowed mistakes).

                      Have not tried food there, but it sounds like it's worth a try.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FoodTruth
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                        Pomegranate Martini RE: FoodTruth Jul 28, 2011 03:58 PM

                        As previously stated, the pastry chef is fantastic. Try the Cherry Scones and take home some eclairs. You will be swooning.

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