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Coffee roasters

Indirect Heat Jun 16, 2011 08:34 PM

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

Thoughts?

  1. b
    bear Jul 18, 2011 01:22 PM

    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
      w
      winedude Jul 18, 2011 06:15 PM

      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
        b
        bear Jul 18, 2011 06:23 PM

        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
          p
          pastrytroll Jul 18, 2011 06:49 PM

          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
            e
            emannths Jul 19, 2011 06:03 AM

            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.

      2. ChinaCat Jun 24, 2011 02:34 PM

        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. c
          celeriac Jun 20, 2011 09:52 AM

          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.

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

          11 Replies
          1. re: celeriac
            h
            hckybg Jun 20, 2011 03:46 PM

            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
              c
              celeriac Jun 21, 2011 08:08 AM

              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
                e
                emannths Jun 21, 2011 08:20 AM

                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
                  c
                  celeriac Jun 21, 2011 10:37 AM

                  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
                    b
                    bella_sarda Jun 21, 2011 11:10 AM

                    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
                      h
                      hckybg Jun 21, 2011 12:02 PM

                      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
                        c
                        celeriac Jun 21, 2011 05:31 PM

                        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
                        e
                        emannths Jul 12, 2011 10:54 AM

                        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
                          b
                          bella_sarda Jul 18, 2011 10:35 AM

                          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
                    m
                    minneapolite Jun 25, 2011 08:23 PM

                    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

                    1. re: minneapolite
                      m
                      minneapolite Jun 25, 2011 10:31 PM

                      google map links invariably suck/don't work:

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

                2. p
                  pemma Jun 20, 2011 05:50 AM

                  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. j
                    JoJo5 Jun 19, 2011 09:34 AM

                    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. b
                      Blue Point Jun 18, 2011 05:35 PM

                      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
                        e
                        emannths Jun 19, 2011 09:00 AM

                        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. e
                        emannths Jun 17, 2011 07:32 AM

                        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.

                        -----
                        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
                          b
                          bella_sarda Jun 17, 2011 08:45 AM

                          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.

                          -----
                          Crema Cafe
                          27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                          1. re: bella_sarda
                            nsenada Jun 17, 2011 08:55 AM

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

                            -----
                            Crema Cafe
                            27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: nsenada
                              h
                              hckybg Jun 17, 2011 01:31 PM

                              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
                                s
                                SPBoston Jun 18, 2011 10:17 AM

                                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
                                  threedogs Jun 18, 2011 05:08 PM

                                  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
                                    s
                                    SPBoston Jun 18, 2011 07:54 PM

                                    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
                                    itaunas Jun 24, 2011 03:52 PM

                                    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
                                      b
                                      bella_sarda Jun 26, 2011 06:28 AM

                                      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. h
                            hckybg Jun 16, 2011 09:12 PM

                            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.

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

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: hckybg
                              threedogs Jun 17, 2011 04:44 AM

                              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

                              -----
                              Taste Coffee Shop
                              311 Walnut St, Newton, MA 02460

                              1. re: threedogs
                                p
                                pastrytroll Jun 19, 2011 10:24 AM

                                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
                                  threedogs Jun 19, 2011 04:24 PM

                                  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
                                    tatsu Jun 20, 2011 10:41 AM

                                    Agreed. And they are kinda snobby about it too.

                                2. re: hckybg
                                  Boston_Otter Jun 17, 2011 07:37 AM

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

                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                    e
                                    emannths Jun 17, 2011 07:42 AM

                                    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

                                    -----
                                    Formaggio Kitchen
                                    244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                                      h
                                      hckybg Jun 17, 2011 08:21 AM

                                      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
                                        Boston_Otter Jun 17, 2011 01:43 PM

                                        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
                                          h
                                          hckybg Jun 17, 2011 02:21 PM

                                          You make it sound like an SNL skit!

                                    2. re: hckybg
                                      tatsu Jun 17, 2011 10:46 AM

                                      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.

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

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