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Coffee roasters

I am new in Boston. Looking for a good coffee roaster, ala Blue Bottle in San Francisco or Intelligentsia in LA.

Thoughts?

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  1. Two of the best in the country are right here: Barismo and George Howell/Terroir. Howell owns a cafe in Newtonville called Taste. Barismo has a shop on Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington and is opening a new place north of Central Square. Both are available at various shops: Simon's in Cambridge has both, SIP (downtown) has Terroir, Hi-Rise in Harvard Square has Barismo. I prefer both to the big (little) guys, perhaps because they are smaller scale and you can talk to the source. The Barismo shop is really neat and they are great to talk to.

    Barrington, in Western Mass, is also a good roaster--you can get their coffee at Voltage in Kendall Square and their espresso at 1369 (two locations in Cambridge). I also like New Harvest, based in Providence, but haven't yet seen anyone serving or selling their coffee up here.

    Boston is a great coffee town with a long history, I hope you'll be happy with your choices. There is some great stuff here; try these coffee shop suggestions and let us know what you think! Welcome to town.

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    Barismo
    169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

    10 Replies
    1. re: hckybg

      Thanks for posting this! I roast my own coffee, but would love to be able to get something decent out once & a while - didn't realize George Howell had a place so close to me! Going to go to Taste when I get a chance. I also haven't tried Barismo yet, and that's close by, too.

      Now if my stomach would stop acting up, I might actually be able to *drink* coffee again (and even eat again, for that matter...)

      To the OP, the links here are acting weird. The address for Taste Coffee Shop is 311 Walnut Street in Newtonville, MA 02460

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      Taste Coffee Shop
      311 Walnut St, Newton, MA 02460

      1. re: threedogs

        You should try Howell;s - but I gotta say he roasts way, way too rare for my tastes! Hope you stomach heals.

        1. re: pastrytroll

          Hey, pastrytroll!! How are you doing?

          I prefer light roasts - will def give Howell's a try when I'm sure my stomach is doing better. Thanks!

          1. re: pastrytroll

            Agreed. And they are kinda snobby about it too.

        2. re: hckybg

          hckybg: Does the Hi-Rise in Huron Village use Barismo coffees in their store?

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            It's not on their list of accounts, though Formaggio Kitchen carries it if you looking for beans in Huron Village.

            http://shop.barismo.com/company/accounts

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            Formaggio Kitchen
            244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              I've seen them using Ritual at the Huron Village location but am not sure if they sometimes use Barismo as well. I have not been to that one in a while but have heard that the Harvard Square location tends to be better for coffee--better baristas and a bigger priority.

              Clover in Harvard Square also sometimes uses Barismo for their pour-overs. I forgot to mention Clover but in general they have a neat coffee program, they rotate very frequently and feature a lot of different roasters--I've seen Barismo, Terroir, Verve, Ritual, Barrington, Stumptown and others. You never know what you'll get.

              1. re: hckybg

                Great, I'll check Crema out. I love Barismo coffees and their unique setup in Arlington, but to be frank, sometimes I'd like to just casually enjoy a cup of coffee rather than collaborate with my barista on finding an optimum roast profile and brewing method, etc, sipping it carefully while they watch.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  You make it sound like an SNL skit!

            2. re: hckybg

              Simon's in Porter Sq was one of the first to carry Barismo, even before they had retail operations in Arlington. Barismo has another cafe in the works.

              Fazenda in Needham just opened a cafe in JP as well, and Karma in Sudbury offers drink on location while you can watch them roast. Rao's out in central Mass is carried by many places locally. Of the two, I bet Karma and Barismo would be most amenable to a custom order.

              Howell is sort of the godfather of roasting around here, but his otherwise perfectly uniform beans are so under-roasted for my tastes. So much so I'd rather have a cup of Starbucks to be honest.

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              Barismo
              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

            3. Barismo is good, and as hckybg says, they're great to talk to. If you go to their shop in Arlington, you may even have to interrupt some serious shop talk to place your order.

              You can buy Intelligentsia and Stumptown at Diesel Cafe and Bloc 11. Their shipment of Intelligentsia is roasted on Tuesday and is usually on the shelf on Friday or Saturday.

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              Bloc 11 Cafe
              11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

              Diesel Cafe
              257 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

              Barismo
              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

              8 Replies
              1. re: emannths

                Crema Cafe in Harvard Squares sells the Terroir/Howell coffees and, I assume, brews them as well. They may some of the best espresso drinks in town, in my opinion.

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                Crema Cafe
                27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                1. re: bella_sarda

                  Agreed on Crema - had the best capuccino in recent memory there.

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                  Crema Cafe
                  27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  1. re: nsenada

                    Definitely try Simon's if you haven't, they have probably impressed me the most (other than the Barismo shop). Another good nearby roaster which offers something a bit different is Matt's Wood Roasted Organic Coffee from Pownal, ME. They only ship but the price is cheaper to New England than the rest of the country. I'm not sure I can tell a difference from the wood roasted but I've really liked what I've tried.

                    1. re: hckybg

                      Brand new ... beans roasted on premises is Common Ground on Rte 16 (Revere Beach Parkway) in Everett. I'm not the most knowlegeable when it comes to coffee roasting, but the man behind the counter was kind enough to start educating me. The only thing I've had there so far is iced latte and espresso and I enjoyed both. I brought beans home with me this time ... a medium roast Brazilian bean and will try it later today in my press.

                      1. re: SPBoston

                        Where on Rte 16 are they? I did a search but couldn't find the exact address. (feeling like I saw the place recently, too).

                        1. re: threedogs

                          1727 Revere Beach Parkway ... it shares a parking lot with a Subway sandwich shop ... it's on the WESTBOUND side not to far after the Harley Davidson place (which is on the Eastbound side) but before the Dunkin Donuts (one on each side).

                          I had a great bacon and egg sandwich there, too. ;) The website needs major expansion ... but can see the logo there which is also on the sign.
                          http://commongroundcoffeeroasters.com/

                        2. re: SPBoston

                          SPBoston I am pretty certain that Common Ground is or may have bought out a Brazilian roaster from Cape Cod (Hyannis) which distributed under the name 'cafe do brasil." Their bread and butter is pre-ground coffee sold at Brazilian stores and DeMoula's, although International Market in Union Square (now a different name, its across from La Internacional) was the one place locally which sold their whole beans. I haven't managed to stop by but its good to know they have ligher roasted beans as the Brazilian stores tended toward very dark roasts, but in Brazil there is both. Their labeling currently mentions "cerrado do brasil" (savanna) which I believe is the first demarcated region in Brazil (primarily Northern Minas Gerais) which is known for quality coffee and has a lot of bourbon planted, but the link you list below is even less informative about their coffee so I wish they would be clearer on origin/types of bean. Overall their "blend" is a lot less complex than many of the others listed (particularly the heavily roasted beans they distributed), but its decent drinking coffee. Maybe the retail outlet up here will mean more roasts and experimentation.

                          -----
                          International Market
                          365 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                          1. re: itaunas

                            Huh---I go to La Internacional all the time and I've never even see "International Market",or whatever its new name is. I did see a few weeks back that a recently vacated money-transfer place would become some type of ethnic foods market---I had a recollection of African. But clearly I need to go back and pay closer attention, since those Brazilian beans sound very interesting. Thanks for the tip.

                            Off topic, but I bought a really great mango and papaya at La Internacional yesterday. Their prices are really good, and when the fruit is good it's great!

                2. I live in Boston but order my coffee from Blue Bottle. They're prices are reasonable as is the shipping. I've looked into more local options like like George Howell, but found the pricing structure exorbitant (with shipping) and the 12 oz. packing is way too precious.

                  I remain a Blue Bottle loyalist- love the online store and their customer service. Always excited when a new Ethiopian Peaberry or a
                  lb. of Giant Steps arrives at my door !

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Blue Point

                    If you're interested, George Howell is available at area coffee shops (Simon's, among others), if you want to save the shipping. Of course, it doesn't show up at the door! :-)

                  2. I swear by D'Amico Foods in Brooklyn, NY. I've been a customer for years. Their prices are excellent and their regular ground shipping arrives in two days at the most, sometimes the next day. Compare their prices. They're half of what Blue Bottle charges for the same roasts.

                    http://www.damicofoods.com/organiccof...

                    JoJo

                    1. I don't know where you are and what is convenient for your, but Mystic Coffee Roasters in Medford Square roasts their own coffee.

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                      Mystic Coffee Roaster
                      30 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                      1. I'll echo all of these comments - #1 and #2 in the area are probably going to be Barismo and Terroir, respectively. I love love love Barismo, both for the quality of their beans and for their incredible service if you stop by the shop in Arlington. My one gripe is that not a single shop in Boston (vs Cambridge) carries their beans -- not a one! it does make it a pain to track their beans down, but I usually make the effort.

                        On the other hand, I rarely love Terroir. They do everything very well - sourcing, roasting, etc -- but the proof is in the cup, and I don't love it the same way. Freshness can also be an issue with them, and it never is with Barismo, though both are clearly marked.

                        In terms of outlets for non-local beans, many good ones have already been mentioned, but I will chime in to add that Pavement in Boston carries a decent range of nice, fresh Counter Culture beans. Also, I'll add that I've seen some fairly outlandish coffee prices at Formaggio, so be careful if you buy your beans there.

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                        Barismo
                        169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: celeriac

                          I'll also add that I was at the very excellent and very serious (bordering on snobby, but that's okay) RBC today in New York, and they were featuring Barismo among several other brands--Ritual, Mad Cap, Klatch, etc. So while one could certainly spend the not-small amount that it costs to ship a competitor from across the country to Boston, in our backyard we have a brand that is lauded (and imported) throughout the land!

                          -----
                          Barismo
                          169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                          1. re: hckybg

                            Indeed. I've said before, on these same boards, that it kills me to see Intelligentsia, Stumptown and Counter Culture popping up all over Boston when a very small number of shops are working with Barismo, a tiny world-class roaster that's right here. I remember being in Portland when Stumptown was first getting going, and the majority of the respectable shops and restaurants were proudly carrying their beans. It's that kind of local support that builds brands and allows them to grow and improve, and I wish we saw more of it for these guys.

                            -----
                            Barismo
                            169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                            1. re: celeriac

                              Any idea why this might be? Does Barismo not have the capacity to take on more accounts? Are the shops looking for roasters with more name recognition? Are the wholesale discounts larger?

                              I agree, it seems really weird that a place like Diesel Cafe goes to such lengths to find local breads, produce, and dairy, and yet when it comes to coffee their beans come from roasters who call Chicago and Portland OR home! I suspect part of it is that Boston does not have much of a home-grown coffee scene, but I'd think that when good local options became available that many of the shops would have jumped that the chance to offer those beans.

                              -----
                              Barismo
                              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                              1. re: emannths

                                No idea myself, but I would venture to guess that it has to do with name recognition and price. It seems that there must be some economies of scale as roasters grow and source in larger volume, even if the retail prices are fairly consistent across these brands.

                                1. re: emannths

                                  Next time I go to Bloc 11 (fairly frequently) I'm going to ask them--politely, of course-- why they don't carry Barismo. I'd love to try it and Simon's (or their cafe in Arlington) is not as convenient for me.

                                  -----
                                  Bloc 11 Cafe
                                  11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                  Barismo
                                  169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                  1. re: bella_sarda

                                    I think it's also an issue of PR and the more atmospheric "trendiness." Stumptown represents all the many aspects of the third wave coffee seen, and they represent it well: celebrity baristas, hipster culture, carefully sourced coffee, and a certain mystique that comes with the Pacific Northwest in the early 2010s. They were very important early players in the growth of this scene and they have ridden the wave very well, strategically moving into New York City by creating an East Coast facility and then aligning themselves with other institutions of that scene, such as the Ace Hotel. This is not at all to imply that it is all flash and no substance, I like their coffee very much. Others have had similar success, such as Blue Bottle, by having the patina of the San Francisco food scene and moving into New York, and Intelligentsia is just very good and has a large and loyal customer base in the very large cities of Chicago and LA.

                                    Barismo is at a much smaller scale and seems very happy to have partners at some very great places in town and then some real interesting places elsewhere, like RBC in New York. I'm not sure they'd complain about their position vis a vis their larger compatriots; Stumptown has become very prosperous (viz. the recent and substantial investment in the company by an equity fund) but also very "trendy." Barismo has great respect across the country but also a great intimacy--you can walk into the shop and talk to the owner. And there was palpable excitement across local food sites when they announced they would open a new shop. Like a good band that is glad to have very loyal fans but not broad exposure, maybe they are happy to stay out of that limelight a bit. It seems like a more sustainable approach in terms of quality and getting to do what they want.

                                    1. re: hckybg

                                      hckybg, I totally hear you on all of that... though I don't think that having a shop or two in Boston carry their stuff would put them over the top!

                                    2. re: bella_sarda

                                      Sorry for shameless bump, but I was curious if you've talked to Bloc 11 and what their response was. Anything to report?

                                      -----
                                      Bloc 11 Cafe
                                      11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                      1. re: emannths

                                        I guess it was I who promised to nag Bloc 11 about carrying Barismo coffee. Somehow, I haven't been by there lately so I haven't gotten to it yet. Will report back if/when I do!

                                        -----
                                        Bloc 11 Cafe
                                        11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                        Barismo
                                        169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                2. re: hckybg

                                  i did a quick search on the barismo website. according to them, you can buy their beans at the following places:

                                  http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&...

                                  26msid=111094093111720439207.

                                  459e0a5eb448863e90&ll=42.405207,-71.141281&spn=0.152104,0.154495&z=11&source=embed

                              2. I'm not sure if they have any downtown outlets, but if you are out in the western 'burbs, consider stopping by Armeno's Coffee Roasters in Northborough. The roasts are relatively light, a la Terroir. But they do a nice job and have some very good beans. I don't know if anybody else around here is roasting Maui grown peaberry, but its absolutely wonderful when they have it.

                                1. Any recent thoughts on Dean's Beans? Reactions seem to be mixed. I just ordered three different varietals after going for my usual Starbucks beans.

                                  I'd rather guiltily stuck with Starbucks because the beans were reasonably priced and consistent. There are three avid coffee drinkers in the house and boutique beans get pretty pricey. The Guatemalan that I usually buy just went from $10.95/lb. to $13.95. No way.

                                  Even with shipping the Dean's Beans cost about the same as the old Starbucks price.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: bear

                                    I believe that Dean's Beans uses Robusta beans, instead of Arabica, which accounts for the lower price.

                                    Finding good quality, reasonably priced beans has become a bit of a challenge, for sure.

                                    1. re: winedude

                                      Yes, I noticed that they mentioned robusta beans in many of their blends. Thought I'd give them a shot, though, since they sound like a business with integrity.

                                      1. re: winedude

                                        ThreeDogs taught me to roast my own. Prices for green beans have gone up, too, but you can still order truly great beans for about $8/lb, including shipping and insurance! The price difference isn't as great as it used to be, though. Even a year or so ago the beans were about $3.50/lb.

                                        1. re: pastrytroll

                                          Also keep in mind that the yield (by weight) of roasted beans is about 80% or so, so $8/lb green is about the same price as $9.50-10/lb roasted.