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Looking for good lattes in greater Boston - like in Seattle

NHEats Oct 4, 2011 01:57 PM

Are there any coffee houses/restaurants/etc. that make "Seattle-style" lattes in Boston? The foam is thick, sometimes with leaf patterns, etc Here, it seems like the barista's are on an assembly line.

I recently returned from Seattle & now realize that I'm not getting 'real' lattes here. And I'm going through withdrawal.


  1. s
    SeattleMonkey Oct 7, 2011 05:00 PM

    I do NOT recommend the lattes at the Thinking Cup.

    They have been AWFUL the three times that I've been there. I want my $15 back....

    the bread pudding there is decent though, and coincidentally the cheapest desert item on the menu

    1. b
      bear Oct 6, 2011 02:06 PM

      If you're looking for delicious and beautiful, both The Thinking Cup mentioned above, and Cafe Fixe in Brookline fill the bill.

      We've never had a problem with the service at Cafe Fixe, but there have been complaints of attitude. We're probably there twice a month.

      The 1369 Coffeehouse in Inman Square also takes pride in it's designs (lots of pictures of the baristas' artistry on the walls), but be aware that they don't use whole milk. They will mix a little cream in the 2 % before frothing, though, and the espresso drinks are pretty decent. Not legendary, however.

      1369 Coffeehouse
      757 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Cafe Fixe
      1642 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

      3 Replies
      1. re: bear
        johndory Oct 6, 2011 09:01 PM

        I think Cafe Fixe is outstanding and I too have never had an issue with the service. However, some of the comments from the owner on Yelp regarding customer complaints are astonishing.

        Cafe Fixe
        1642 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

        1. re: johndory
          bear Oct 7, 2011 04:51 AM

          Ha, that's pretty entertaining reading. I do love the person who complained that they weren't happy when she brought in a Starbucks coffee, though. Gotta love yelp sometimes.

          1. re: bear
            hckybg Oct 7, 2011 08:07 AM

            I read a similar one recently, though I can't remember what restaurant was reviewed. It went something like this: "Came here with three friends. They said the food was great but the owner was unhappy that I brought my dinner from another restaurant. One star."

      2. tammyh Oct 6, 2011 01:21 PM

        I don't remember too much about Flat Black (financial district), but their better drinks are their espresso-based drinks. not sure about the foam.

        1. n
          NHEats Oct 5, 2011 01:14 PM

          Thanks, everyone. I now have a long list that will keep me busy & awake for a while.
          In Seattle, I was particulary taken with Vivace & Victrola. I am more into latte than regular coffee, so I appreciate the latte suggestions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NHEats
            srgoodman Oct 7, 2011 11:46 AM

            I was in Seattle a year ago, and Victrola was absolutely the best I've ever had - straight shot, brewed coffee, or cappuccino. And Zoka was pretty darned close. (Vivace, or the other hand, was a bitter disappointment (pun intended). Given their reputation, I must assume I hit them on a bad day.)

            Though I haven't tried some of the newer places (Voltage, et al), no place I've tried in the Boston area has hit the mark as well as the better places in Seattle. Almost to my surprise, the best I've had locally is at Atomic Cafe in Beverly.

            Atomic Cafe
            265 Cabot St, Beverly, MA

          2. v
            veggielover Oct 5, 2011 12:57 PM

            Taste brews the best coffee in Newton.

            1. rcastanon Oct 5, 2011 12:48 PM

              I like Espresso Royale Caffe at 286 Newbury Street. It's the best I've had in Boston, leaf patterns and all. They take forever to prepare your coffee but if you don't mind waiting and dealing with rude baristas this is the place to go (cashier's very friendly though).

              Espresso Royale Caffe
              288 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

              1. Bob Dobalina Oct 5, 2011 08:11 AM

                Are Seattle-style lattes like Portland (OR)-style lattes, i.e., Stumptown? If so, nothing in Boston really gets it right. I cried a little tear as I recently had a Stumptown cappuccino... how can I say this? Just wow...just...better...

                4 Replies
                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                  hckybg Oct 5, 2011 12:17 PM

                  No, Bob! Have you been to Simon's or Pavement? I'd put their baristas up against Stumptown's. If they don't match up in your eyes, wait for dwellTime, I think they will knock it out of the park.

                  1. re: hckybg
                    robwat36 Oct 5, 2011 02:28 PM

                    I really like the service at Pavement. The staff members are quick and efficient, and they have a sense of humor without being unctuous or fake-cheerful. People seem to enjoy working there.

                    1. re: hckybg
                      Bob Dobalina Oct 6, 2011 05:06 AM

                      I like Simon's - count me as a fan. But not in the same league as Stumptown, in my opinion. There was just a level of professionalism at Stumptown that I haven't seen in Boston very often, if at all. Of course, I am usually in Simon's on the weekends, so maybe I am getting the 'B' team.

                      Will have to try Pavement soon.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                        hckybg Oct 6, 2011 10:02 AM

                        You are just smitten by the suspenders and the hats, admit it.

                  2. m
                    mvi Oct 4, 2011 04:27 PM

                    Another Voltage fan here.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mvi
                      dmw010 Oct 4, 2011 08:01 PM

                      I tried Voltage a couple of weeks ago, with high expectations - and I was unimpressed. My Americano was just not good. It tasted like the beans were way past their prime, or they pre-ground the coffee well before my order. I'm willing to give them another try, this time I'll have an espresso and see if they nail it. Milk-based coffee drinks can conceal bad coffee and poor technique, you've got to try it black to really taste the coffee.

                      1. re: dmw010
                        hckybg Oct 4, 2011 08:56 PM

                        True, but diluting espresso also isn't the best way to taste coffee...try an espresso and see what you think. I've always been very impressed with Voltage.

                        To the OP's question, Voltage definitely has the most inventive lattes around, with lots of interesting flavors. If you are after micro-textured foam and latte art, the options above are all good choices. Simon's is probably my favorite coffee place in the area, at least until Barimo opens dwellTime. You can also try the brand new Render Coffee Bar in the South End, Pavement on Boylston west of Mass Ave., Taste Coffee House in Brookline Village, or even 1369, whose baristas do very nice milk-based drinks. SIP downtown is also very nice and often overlooked.

                        Boston has a great and flourishing coffee scene right now, in my opinion it is one of our real strengths.

                        1. re: hckybg
                          tammyh Oct 6, 2011 01:20 PM

                          ahh the Voltage lady has finally opened up her shop, eh? (she used to sell drinks at my old job before opening up.)

                          I thought there were pretty interesting, too, and well-balanced. I shall have to make a trip soon.

                          1. re: tammyh
                            hckybg Oct 6, 2011 08:06 PM

                            I think it's been about a year since they opened; I read about her old operation, that sounded interesting. Definitely stop by, it's a nice place.

                    2. Matt H Oct 4, 2011 04:05 PM

                      Another vote for Voltage and Thinking Cup. Also add Area Four to that list as well.

                      1. e
                        emannths Oct 4, 2011 02:46 PM

                        What exactly is the problem with Boston lattes (I don't order them myself). Too little foam? Try asking for a cappuccino if that's the problem?

                        There are a few good coffee shops in the area--what neighborhood are you looking for? Over in Cambridge, there's Simon's, Crema and Voltage, in Somerville there's Diesel and Bloc 11, and there are no doubt a few respectable ones across the river as well.

                        Simon's Coffee House
                        1736 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        Bloc 11 Cafe
                        11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                        Crema Cafe
                        27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        Diesel Cafe
                        257 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                        Voltage Coffee & Art
                        295 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: emannths
                          Blumie Oct 5, 2011 07:01 AM

                          A cappuccino and a latte are two very different products (albeit made with the same ingredients!). That said, I agree with you that Simon's makes an excellent latte.

                          1. re: Blumie
                            emannths Oct 5, 2011 07:10 AM

                            Oh I know. But if OP's problem is that there's too much like and not enough foam (I'm not sure it is, maybe it's simply that the foam she's getting sucks), won't ordering a cappuccino, especially an American-style one, fix this this?

                            1. re: emannths
                              Blumie Oct 5, 2011 08:39 AM

                              I think the OP is using the term "foam" in a different way than the foam in a latte.

                        2. chefematician Oct 4, 2011 02:06 PM

                          Try Thinking Cup or Voltage. I've never been to Seattle, but I think that these two shops have some of the best lattes in the area.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chefematician
                            kf2vv Oct 4, 2011 03:23 PM

                            I'll second Voltage. (The owner used to work at Victrola, which you might have guessed from the name.) They're a bit on the weird and experimental side, but I'd call it the only really reliable latte in the area.

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