HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Looking for green/unroasted coffee beans

beforesunrise Apr 14, 2011 08:26 AM

Any suggestions where I can buy green/unroasted coffee beans in the Boston-area? We received a roaster for a present and have blown through the initial batch it came with. I'd prefer to buy locally rather than online, if possible. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. StriperGuy RE: beforesunrise Apr 14, 2011 08:51 AM

    Polcari's in the North End always has some green beans. Forget where else I've seen them, but when I remember I will post back.

    Polcari's Restaurant
    309 Montvale Ave, Woburn, MA 01801

    5 Replies
    1. re: StriperGuy
      itaunas RE: StriperGuy Apr 14, 2011 09:19 AM

      South End Food Emporium also sells them, whole foods has been mentioned in the past, and for a larger selection there also is http://www.invalsa.com on the North Shore which I have only dealt with mail order.

      1. re: itaunas
        itaunas RE: itaunas Apr 14, 2011 11:41 AM

        I should have said "certain whole foods has been mentioned...." and given the scents around Fresh Pond many afternoons, I would venture that is one which uses green coffee in house but I have never had to buy from them.

        Sweet Maria's is very quick and inexpensive shipping wise if you order enough to fit in a flat rate priority mail box. If you have more lead time the coffee roasting clubs are a good bet.

      2. re: StriperGuy
        tatsu RE: StriperGuy Apr 14, 2011 11:33 AM

        Hey Stripe where do you order your Ethiopian online in 5lb bags, already roasted? I lost the link. Thanks!

        1. re: tatsu
          StriperGuy RE: tatsu Apr 15, 2011 06:40 AM


          And I am SURE that they would sell green beans too for WAY less than sweet Maria. They do have that 5 pound minimum though. Fabulous stuff. I am drinking some right now.

          Superb coffees at 1/3 the price of say Terroir.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            sqboo RE: StriperGuy Sep 29, 2011 07:20 AM

            Harrar or yirgacheffe?

            eta: oops, never mind-- found them.

      3. e
        eatanddestroy RE: beforesunrise Apr 14, 2011 09:35 AM

        You'll get amazing quality green beans at Terrior in Action - http://www.terroircoffee.com/store/.

        Their beans aren't cheap, but they are worth the price.

        I'm cheap, and have been really happy with what I've been getting in the mail from Sweet Marias.

        2 Replies
        1. re: eatanddestroy
          StriperGuy RE: eatanddestroy Apr 14, 2011 09:38 AM

          Sweet Maria's has excellent green beans. Terrior's prices in general just border on insulting.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            pastrytroll RE: StriperGuy Apr 14, 2011 11:37 AM

            I've had wonderful coffee from the guys who split bags of green beans at http://www.greencoffeebuyingclub.com ThreeDogs referred me to them, and I'm grateful!

        2. Boston_Otter RE: beforesunrise Apr 14, 2011 09:45 AM

          I believe Barismo on Mass Ave in Arlington will sell green beans, but you should call and check first.

          1. b
            beforesunrise RE: beforesunrise Apr 14, 2011 09:57 AM

            You guys are awesome. Thanks so much!

            1. m
              morecheesejer RE: beforesunrise Apr 16, 2011 05:39 AM

              Dean's Beans is in Western Mass but you can order their green beans online.

              1 Reply
              1. re: morecheesejer
                mckate RE: morecheesejer Sep 30, 2011 08:15 AM

                LOVE Dean.

              2. srgoodman RE: beforesunrise Apr 16, 2011 09:14 AM

                The Atomic Cafe Roastery in Salem, MA sells a large variety of green beans at very reasonable prices - about 40 - 60% of roasted prices. You can pick up at the roastery in Salem, or their retail cafes in Beverly or Marblehead.

                and select "pickup" as your shipping method

                Terroir used to be a good source of green, but they seem to be phasing that out. Their web site now shows only three coffees available green.

                1. StriperGuy RE: beforesunrise Apr 16, 2011 11:53 AM

                  I just remembered, in a pinch Arax is Watertown also sells them.

                  1. muscles_marinara RE: beforesunrise Feb 20, 2012 03:28 PM

                    Sorry to revive a dead thread, but if anybody is interested, this oddly enough, is the 7-11 in inman sq. on prospect and hampshire.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: muscles_marinara
                      StriperGuy RE: muscles_marinara Feb 21, 2012 07:34 AM

                      That is truly awesome.

                      1. re: muscles_marinara
                        simonvlevin RE: muscles_marinara Nov 12, 2012 01:49 PM

                        Thanks! They still got the magic beans!

                      2. o
                        oparu RE: beforesunrise Aug 28, 2012 11:13 AM

                        In case anyone's still interested, Polcari's in the North End still sells green coffee beans. I was there earlier this month and they had Colombian ($6.50/lb) and Ugandan ($8/lb) green beans.
                        The South End Food emporium has Ethiopian green beans ($5.99/lb).

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: oparu
                          threedogs RE: oparu Aug 30, 2012 03:22 PM

                          I'm curious if any hound has tried these at Polcari's. Aside from the intriguingly generic names that consist of only the country they hail from - coffee is a food product that will go stale. Don't get me wrong - I love Polcari's, but I can't buy geens that are stored in open barrels, and w/no date, either.

                          I've seen bags at Arax - but still wonder about point of origin and freshness. I prefer to buy local when I can, but for my greens, I'll stick to Sweet Maria's online...

                          1. re: threedogs
                            oparu RE: threedogs Aug 30, 2012 05:32 PM

                            Actually, I've tried the Ugandan beans from Polcari's and the Ethiopian beans from South End Food Emporium. They were both good. However, I've only been roasting for a little over a year with my popcorn poppers and perhaps don't have as fine a palate as other hounds here. The beans in both places are stored in open barrels. I'm sure they will tell you the more specific name if you ask. The Ethiopian beans are Yirgacheffe (I asked). I forgot to ask the nice guy at Polcari's though.

                            I thought that one of the reasons people buy green beans and roast them at home was because green beans don't go stale as quickly as roasted beans. Doesn't the roasting process take the moisture out of the beans? So, out of curiosity, why would an open barrel be a problem?

                            1. re: oparu
                              iloveporkbelly RE: oparu Aug 30, 2012 06:33 PM

                              Vietnamese Coffee in Medford sells green beans from, well, Vietnam. Have only tried their already roasted beans.


                              1. re: oparu
                                sciaccagirl RE: oparu Aug 30, 2012 06:44 PM

                                I would try Heirloom Coffee in W. Medford on Jerome St right off Rte 60. They import from Vietnam, the Phillipines, Myanmar.... . They have green beans and can pinpoint origin and dates. As an aside we went to a coffee tasting seminar there. Very informative, fun and excellent coffees, too. Len is the person to speak with 781-391-2255. http://www.heirloom-coffee.com.

                                1. re: sciaccagirl
                                  itaunas RE: sciaccagirl Aug 31, 2012 02:17 AM

                                  BTW Heirloom and Vietnamese Coffee that iporkbelly mentioned together with you are the same, they have several "brands." So they moved out of the 200 Boston Ave Cummings Property complex?

                                  1. re: itaunas
                                    sciaccagirl RE: itaunas Aug 31, 2012 05:29 AM

                                    iporkbelly's reply wasn't on this thread when I first read it , otherwise I wouldn't have posted. Yes, they moved from Cummings Park across Rte 16 to just off Rte 60. Picking up an order in a couple of hours.

                                  2. re: sciaccagirl
                                    threedogs RE: sciaccagirl Aug 31, 2012 07:37 AM

                                    Really interested in getting over there & trying some of their beans. Seems there are many more homeroasters around today - so it would be great to find a local business dedicated to a great cup!

                                  3. re: oparu
                                    threedogs RE: oparu Aug 31, 2012 07:36 AM

                                    I've been roasting for a number of years, oparu - and I'm also using a popcorn popper. You don't have to have an elaborate setup (I used to roast stove-top for years, but my current stove in this apt is the worst I've ever had, and I just couldn't control the roasts).

                                    I did ask at Polcari's but they didn't know - and they didn't know how old they were, either.

                                    See my other post below for my explanation about beans going stale - it's important to know the date, and they should be out of direct light, preferably w/a high turnover - or, lacking that, vacuum packed.

                                  4. re: threedogs
                                    StriperGuy RE: threedogs Aug 30, 2012 11:13 PM

                                    Green coffee beans take a LONG time to go stale, unlike roasted coffee which really only has a week or so of good shelf life.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                      itaunas RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2012 02:21 AM

                                      Air in a conditioned environment is not the enemy. When coffee berries are harvested they are still laid out to dry in the sun in many countries, then husked and washed, and warehoused in sacks (canvas and woven plastic strips which breathe) for up to a year. I would think, though that the sea voyage isn't very good for them, so that starts the decline. And if stored open in Polcari you have moisture, some sea air, and a shop with a huge mix of spices and volatile flavors that tend to migrate. While you can keep green beans stored at home for 6 months and not notice a difference roasting them, I can't say I would want beans that had sat around open in Polcari's for much longer than a couple of weeks to maximum a month.

                                      1. re: itaunas
                                        threedogs RE: itaunas Aug 31, 2012 07:22 AM

                                        Yes, greens lost longer than roasted coffee - but exactly how you store them makes all the difference how they will survive time.

                                        I'll refer to my favorite (and only, at least at this point) supplier, Sweet Maria's. The folks there explain that coffee is the dried seed of the fruit of a flowering tree.

                                        "Green coffee can be stored for month, up to a year in vacuum packs, with little or no flavor loss (whereas roasted coffee starts to stale within 10 days from roasting. Coffee is not really a bean, it is the seed from the fruit of a flowering tropical shrub."


                                        What you said, itaunas, is very true: if the exact origin of the greens isn't known, then one has no idea how long - or under what conditions - they were stored even before they came to where ever they're being sold. It's sort of like saying, well, I'm buying ricotta. Who made it? What is the quality? How long has it been sitting in the store? Just saying it came from the U.S. means nothing. Adding, well, it's whole milk ricotta is a pretty good explanation why, to me, saying those Ethiopian coffee greens are Yirgacheffe means very little to me.

                                        That's why I'd rather buy from a reputable seller such as Sweet Maria's, even though this is going against my 'buy as much local as possible' (obviously, the beans themselves will never be local, of course!!). I've extolled the virtues of this terrific online family business before on this board. Tom & Maria are the owners & they have a sweet little boy, who is growing up way too fast. (it isn't spoken about, but Maria has MS - another reason I like to give them my small amt of business). But what I really appreciate is how much Tom & all of the crew are, IMO, true coffee hounds - he is very particular about what he buys, cups - and is not only labeled about the farms they come from, but describes the farms and the beans in great detail, and he visits many of them. I like seeing the faces of the farmers, knowing that my little purchase is helping a small farmer, not a gigantic factory-farm.

                                        Once more - it's actually a small business, and everyone at Sweet Maria's is really, really nice.

                                        But please don't misunderstand me - I adore Polcari's & hope they will stay in business as long as the North End is around (unlike so many of the rest of the old time North End favorites). I cherish the recipes that their mom gave me (the original owner -was her name Mary? Lord, my memory is awful!) And I try to shop there whenever I'm in town - but I think they started offering greens for the old time Italians way back, when there just wasn't any other source around for them (so they could roast their own coffee just like they used to do, back in the old country).

                                        With the lesser amount of Italians in the NE now, I think those barrels of greens go down a lot slower these days. But if I were to run out of greens (people on the SM's homeroast list have been *very* generous, too) & didn't want to put in a whole order, I'd still give Polcari's (or the greens I saw closer to me at Arax) a chance.

                                        1. re: threedogs
                                          StriperGuy RE: threedogs Aug 31, 2012 07:35 AM

                                          I've roasted green beens from both Polcari's and Arax and found that neither had really suffered from sitting around. My opinion is that green coffee beans are pretty darned tough and have a pretty long shelf life.

                                Show Hidden Posts