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Coffee, Tea & Me, Melrose

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I, for one, would like to say welcome to Melrose to Coffee, Tea & Me. I love George Howell's Terroir coffee line, and the baked goods (pineapple upside down cakes, berry bars, muffins) and lunchy things (empanadas, croissant sandwiches) look great. Plus Lorenzo (owner/big risk taker) is a Melrose resident and all around nice guy. It's bound to be more expensive than Dunkin', but I plan to support it.

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  1. You beat me to it! I had a Manchego Cheese Empanada for breakfast yesterday that was really tasty, and their baked goods (all made in-house, as I understand) looked really interesting. I was wondering how they'd do practically across from D'Amici's but it's a whole different feel, and their emphasis on great coffee should help them stand out.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      D'Amicis is definitely a different sort of business with a huge rent to pay (like Cambridge in-square $$$). From what their landlord told me, they make a big part of their income in custom cakes. I want Melrose to appreciate C,T&Me, but time will tell. We already have Starbucks, Bruegers, Bread & Bits, Dunkin' and more not a stone's throw away, but no one else is serving up Fair Trade coffee and tea, or mildly untraditional or non-Italian baked goods. Still, $2 for my son's 12oz can of cream soda was a bit steep, but I'll be back.

      1. re: almansa

        Well, Bohemian Coffeehouse has similar baked goods- not sure if it's Fair Trade Coffee/Tea, but regardless, it's not that nearby, and a bit off the beaten path. With a prime Main Street location, I'd imagine C,T&Me will be poaching some of Bohemian Coffeehouse's business, but probably not too much.

        It worries me that we're hitting a saturation point for bakeries in Melrose. We're under 5 square miles, can we really support Busy Bee, Sweet Spot, Coffee Tea & Me, D'Amici's, Bread & Bits, and Peacuddys, in addition to Brueggers, Starbucks and Dunkin'? They all have their niches, so I suppose time will tell... I'm just thrilled to finally have choices for freshly baked bread!

        Bohemian Coffeehouse
        132 West Emerson St, Melrose, MA

        1. re: Chris VR

          There are quite a few. What we really need are more salons.

          1. re: almansa

            Nail or hair? How about a new bank or two?

            1. re: almansa

              Plenty of salons across the border here in Malden. I'd gladly trade a few for some bakeries :-)

            2. re: Chris VR

              I miss Bohemian Coffeehouse so much. I used to live right over the border in Malden and I was there often. They had fantastic homemade baked goods, and many were gluten free even. There coffee and lattes were awesome too. Man, I wish I lived close by still.

              Bohemian Coffeehouse
              132 West Emerson St, Melrose, MA

          2. re: Chris VR

            chris, thanks for this link. you prob remember this from the last few yrs, but empanadas are MY THING, so would you plse tell more?! What fillings. baked or fried, how big? I went all over Boston 3 yrs ago trying every single one and the only good ones, aside from mine, were at Tango and Capone's. "Any old meat turnover does not a great empanada make!" Thanks much, chris!

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              I've had the Manchego cheese and "breakfast" empanada which I think was eggs and chorizo and maybe also cheese. I think it's probably initially fried, and then baked to reheat when ordered, just based on the quality of the dough, which is just on the border of chewiness and toughness. I'm not an empanada expert by any means, so I don't know how the size compares to others. The cheese one came out to $2.60 or so for what I'd call a "turnover" sized one which was basically a hollow shell with a thick cheese coating on the bottom. It felt a bit skimpy at first but by the time I finished it, I was satisfied. I have not tried the beef version yet.

          3. Have to check it out. I saw the owners on local tv- they were answering questions at the alderman meeting. They were really nice, hope they make it work.

            1. Went in this past weekend and the owner was working the front of house and really into telling me all about their coffees and teas. Picked up some loose-leaf Darjeeling (they apparently only sell loose leaf teas, which I applaud) that was a bit underwhelming and pitched as organic, though I can't find any evidence on the package or producer's website to support that. It was also noted in the Melrose Free Press article that all of their teas and coffees are organic; that may be a misnomer.

              I'll be back, though, as I'm happy to avoid a trip to Concord for some of Howell's beans!

              1. And Spice Thai Kitchen is opening up a full-service location next to Breads & Bits (in addition to the take-out location on Franklin St), and there's a new Brazilian market at Wyoming Square.

                Now, if we can get a food coop to take the rest of the Melrose Drug (RIP) space that D'Amici's bakery cafe did not take, then those two blocks of downtown Melrose will be much the better.

                More food purveyors will draw a greater density of customers - it's all good for the new businesses, which are, mercifully, not overlapping. (I am so glad Melrose has avoided adding Yet Another Italian Restaurant to its downtown - there's a surfeit of those everywhere).

                3 Replies
                1. re: Karl S

                  As far as I have heard, Alchemy Coop is still trying to pull themselves together, although I don't know if that's the location (next to D'Amici's) they are still looking at.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    Alchemy were looking for some initial folks to buy-in and we were thinking of it but found the website and paper literature to be lacking some detail.

                    We were out of town for the open house they hosted, unfortunately, but I'd be interested in getting some more information (and perhaps helping get some info up on the site, if that's needed.)

                    Anything to save the time (and exorbitant) expense of schlepping to the Woburn Whole Foods for some good, locally sourced (and hopefully organic) produce but, more than that, having the chance to get involved bringing more (don't forget the natural and organic stand over on Howard Street) good, sustainable food to Melrose. We're spoiled from our past lives pre-'burbs, having come from Somerville within walking distance to the Union Square Farmers' Market.

                    [edits, for typos and clarity]

                    1. re: xuli

                      I did go to one of their meetings, and organic is at the top of their list. Locally sourced seemed to be a bit of a lower priority for them... like, they would try to source organic apples locally, but if they couldn't (I'm not sure I know of actual organic apples in this area, as opposed to IPM) they would source them from another area. I appreciate their goal and admire them for wanting to be true to it, but my priorities are local/sustainably raised over organic, and I decided I wanted to see how that shook out before deciding to be an investor. I had some other concerns as well, and the slow fits and starts of their marketing efforts are part of my concern. Their FB page, for example at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alchemy... hasn't had any activity from them since about March.

                2. Thanks for the advice and recommendation for Coffee Tea & Me -- I'd walked by when we were downtown for the parade, but didn't go in and now I definitely want to check it out. I also love Bohemian Coffeehouse coffee, and being able to get a still warm from the oven chocolate croissant in the mornings can make me almost weep with happiness. I like Peacuddy's as well. Hopefully this new one will get some support. Would be nice if they also served ice cream -- I think the previous owners did and there isn't a "walk to the ice cream place to get a cone on a hot summer's night" kinda place in town. Sometimes I don't want to drive to Soc's -- I know, sheer laziness.
                  Also, I'm a little puzzled about Alchemy although I agree more food purveyors is a good thing. I have grown to become a fan of Green Street Naturals on Green Street -- I initially didn't think much of this place as it is so tiny, but their supply of organic produce isn't too bad at all and the prices as good (bad?) as whole foods. They are definitely more expensive on some perishables (organic milk for example is $5.49 for half gallon, ouch!) but they seem to only be high on things you can pick up at any grocery store, so they are stocking them for convenience only. I think they get deliveries once a week from Boston Organics and some of it is definitely local -- they had "wild arugula" in $3 bags that was amazing a few weeks ago. The owners are extremely nice and visiting there makes me feel like I've gone back in time to 1975.

                  Bohemian Coffeehouse
                  132 West Emerson St, Melrose, MA

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: dillard

                    My husband thought they might be the same owners as when it was the ice cream place. I'd be surprised if they brought that in, though. It's a small space and I don't know that they have the room. Maybe they could compromise with some frozen treats, such as paletas!

                    For ice cream, don't forget about Heavenly Licks, which is on Wyoming, not far from CT&Me and serves Richardson's as well as Richie's Slush and some sort of soft-serve. Also the Common Market (on Sixth Street, right next to the Melrose Common) sells Richardson's and slush (but not soft serve AFAIK). For a change from Soc's, if you're driving, check out Dairy Dome in Stoneham (on Main Street/28) and also Dairy Delight(?) in Malden. It's painted like a cow and is just past Kappy's on the right as you head on Main Street into Malden.

                    Dairy Delight
                    766 Main St, Malden, MA 02148

                    1. re: Chris VR

                      In my opinion the best ice cream in the area is at the gellato place next to the now vacated J Pace location in Saugus. A short walk or drive from Soc's, and infinitely better quality. Though it doesn't have quite the ice cream place charm of Soc's. And I can't remember the name at the moment--apologies!

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        As for the gelato place over in Village Shops (I think that's the name of the mini mall) is called Olivia's. Amazing gelato, had a peach cobbler gelato last summer where they'd literally taken a full, baked cobbler and mixed it into the gelato.

                        Great story about the business as well, the owner is a former Fidelity exec who gave up the 9-5 to start the shop. He'd planned to convert it to more of a coffee-centric business over the winter, cozy couches and the whole nine, but last I saw they'd close for the season, hoping they are/will soon open again.

                        1. re: xuli

                          Thanks for coming up with the name. I, too, had several excellent gelatos there last summer. Missed that peach cobbler -- I hope I can get it this year!

                          I am a bit concerned because he kept trying to diversify the business and it seemed to not be working. For example he was bringing in fairly nice looking pastries and hoping to attract breakfast/coffee business, but I think that's going to be a tough sell in that particular area, especially with the Dunkin Donuts right next door. I really want the place to succeed, but given that this is the third incarnation of the shop with a new owner in as many years, it might be an impossible task.

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            Ugh, not good, Didn't know about the previous occupants' fate. The "closed for the season" sign had me a bit worried, too, as that can't be a great cost-saving strategy, and if intended as such, seems a pretty drastic one at that.

                            Here's hoping they're back this year. Agreed it's a tough spot for the AM crowd, could see a combo gourmet deli-sandwich (similar to Pace, but focused on take out and eat in sandwiches moreso than gourmet grocery) would seem a reasonable play alongside the gelato...

                            1. re: xuli

                              It started out as Lil N Chicks, then J Pace took it over, and then abandoned it when moved.

                      2. re: Chris VR

                        I'd read that the owner (of the ice cream shop formerly there) passed away suddenly hence it's closing, though it's possible there is a family connection between the previous owner and new owner. Sad situation, but the outcome looks promising.

                        1. re: xuli

                          The ice cream shop owner who passed away was the owner of Heavenly Licks, Jay Conley. I believe his daughter took over the business, which is definitley still open for business- we were in there last weekend and it was quite lively. I don't think there's any relation between that store and the one where Coffee, Tea & Me is. C,T&Me is in the location that was Cold Rush.

                          1. re: Chris VR

                            I think Cold Rush was owned by a local insurance agent, but am not 100% sure.

                            Cold Rush
                            421 Main St, Melrose, MA 02176

                            1. re: macca

                              That sounds familiar, or maybe the insurance agent owns the building? I just remember he really wanted to get something in there other than another salon.

                              1. re: Chris VR

                                and I am glad it isnt another salon!!

                    2. Finally got to try this place this morning and to my delight, they now offer crepes. I had one with smoked turkey, brie, and fig spread. The crepe was wonderful: a little chewy but not dense, and it stayed pliant when cool (my chief complaint about Paris Creperie in Brookline is the crepes get hard when they cool off). I didn't actually see ifthe onwer made the crepe itself to order or just warmed one up (I was chasing my 2-year-old around the room...). The amount of filling was spot-on for my taste - just enough to be oozing out of the edges, not so much that you couldn't pick it up & eat it with your hands. The filling was thin slices of good-quality deli turkey (that I * think* were put on the grill for a moment) and a sweet fig spread; I could have wished for more brie, but it may have melted and therefore been less obvious.

                      The crepe was about $8, which seems in line with other places I've been to lately, especially since it was so good. My son enjoyed his blueberry scone and organic chocolate milk, and I appreciated that they had those options. (I managed to steal a corner of his scone and it was crumbly and delicious). Coffee was strong, which was good for me this late morning.

                      They had several sweet and savory options for crepes, and I'm looking forward to trying more of them. No apple and gruyere, though (sigh).

                      As an FYI, there is a slight step (a threshold, really) to get into the store. It was easy to navigate with a stroller but might be more challenging in a wheelchair unless you had a rolling start. No highchairs that I saw; all of the seat are those director-chair things (fabric sling seats and backs over a wood frame).

                      1. I tried this new coffee shop several times now and was not as impressed and some of the reviews that I have read. By no means was it bad I do like it but there are some kinks that still need to be worked out , they are serving a fresh and high quality product. The staff has been friendly and it clean and well kept. Though the priced are quite high compared to the other option Ex: small latte $3.75,double espresso $2.95 and pound of coffee was like $17.
                        All of the espresso drink are made only with a double shot even a large ! kinda weak for a large drink being it;s almost $5
                        while they were not very intense in terms of caffeine jolt and flavor. They will not make a iced americano and the foam of the lattes are quite thick not latte art here. As for food they have fresh baked goods and empanadas /soups. Which is a nice treat. I would love to go here more often but find the price and value wise are little off.

                        1. Just curious on other's experiences here. Any suggestions on what to order . Worth the trip or just ok?