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George Howell Cafe (re-)opening in Newtonville

lipoff Feb 9, 2012 10:44 PM

I gather that George Howell has owned the coffee shop on Walnut Street in Newtonville for a little while now, but apparently it's opening tomorrow under a new name (formerly Taste) and with more elaborate coffee methods.

I am excited! I must admit that I was only introduced to his coffee a few years ago through a chocolate/coffee tasting event at the now defunct Richart store in Copley, but I've been a fan ever since.

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  1. Allstonian RE: lipoff Feb 10, 2012 03:55 AM

    This is great news. I worked at the Harvard Square Coffee Connection in the mid-80s, so I was lucky to learn coffee appreciation from the master way back then.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Allstonian
      sallyt RE: Allstonian Feb 10, 2012 05:37 AM

      loved that Coffee Connection! I hung out there in the late 80's.

      1. re: Allstonian
        CookieLee RE: Allstonian Feb 10, 2012 05:38 AM

        My 1st date with my husband was @ the HS CC in '82!

        1. re: Allstonian
          Kenji RE: Allstonian Feb 18, 2012 04:40 PM

          I had my coffee "awakening" at the Harvard Square Coffee Connection in the mid-80s.

        2. h
          hckybg RE: lipoff Feb 10, 2012 07:21 AM

          I think he bought it about a year ago, but they've been fully in control during that time. His daughter has been the manager, I believe. It is a nice place and a great spot for them to show off their coffee. I wish it was a little closer to Cambridge/Somerville (my home) but I don't mind the special trip now and then!

          3 Replies
          1. re: hckybg
            ix9 RE: hckybg Feb 10, 2012 01:16 PM

            overheard at italian lunch place inside the galleria/arcade in brookline, "this is the best coffee ever". intrigued, i noticed a Terroir bag of beans next to the stirrers. and then noticed they were for sale at Clear Flour. too young to know about CC

            is there a map of places that are brewing Terroir beans?

            1. re: ix9
              hckybg RE: ix9 Feb 10, 2012 02:25 PM

              Off the top of my head I can tell you that places that typically use them are The Coffee Shop Formerly Known as Tasteā„¢, Crema Cafe in Harvard Square, and SIP in Post Office Square (downtown). They sell the beans at Whole Foods, though you should be sure to check the roast date since they sometimes have been there for a few weeks. They also sell beans at the former Taste and Crema.

              I am also too young to remember Coffee Connection, but my understanding is that it essentially was taken over by Starbucks, and that Howell was the inventor of the Frappuccino in that past life. Speaking of generations of coffee knowledge, there was a good story in the second hour of On Point this morning focused on the use of lighter roasts but more generally about changing coffee culture. Jaime von Schyndel of Barismo was one of the guests and wowed Tom Ashbrook with his excellent coffee.

              1. re: ix9
                morecheesejer RE: ix9 Feb 11, 2012 10:21 AM

                Formaggio Kitchen brews their coffee and sells their beans

            2. c
              collie RE: lipoff Feb 11, 2012 07:20 AM

              From the photo's on their facebook page the place looks nice . Great to see the "coffee culture " expanding in Boston.

              3 Replies
              1. re: collie
                marais RE: collie Feb 11, 2012 07:45 PM

                Better yet, great to see Boston's coffee heritage coming back. Howell's Coffee Connection chain was an educator for me as to what great coffee could be back in the day, and his roasts at retail still delight me.
                Sit me down at the Coffee Connection off Harvard Square in the Garage back in the 80's with a French press of Sumatra, and let me relive my coffee epiphany.

                1. re: marais
                  hyde RE: marais Feb 11, 2012 11:49 PM

                  hey, whats playing at the welles?

                  1. re: hyde
                    southie_chick RE: hyde Feb 12, 2012 10:06 AM

                    Meet ya at Jack's to talk about it! ; ) Actually, I had a friend who worked at the Newbury Street Coffee Connection - LOVED that place! Was SOOOOOO mad when they sold out to Starbucks.

              2. Science Chick RE: lipoff Feb 12, 2012 12:56 PM

                Checked them out yesterday and had an espresso and a drip decaf. Both were outstanding, and boasted a complexity of flavors lacking in many preparations around town. The renovation is lovely, and the cafe has a much lighter feel than the previous incarnate.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Science Chick
                  Hadley66 RE: Science Chick Feb 18, 2012 06:20 AM

                  Wow. I couldn't disagree more.
                  The pour quality is still high but, prior to the change in ownership, Taste had some of the best roasts from around the country, from companies like Intelligentsia and Stumptown and Howell. Now it's only the Howell line. While I don't care for the change, I can understand it, of course - his shop, his coffee.
                  The remodel is more puzzling to me. It's like a day spa now, in the most boring of ways. Taste was distinctive and quirky and fun; George Howell Coffee Company is bland and sedated.

                  1. re: Hadley66
                    Science Chick RE: Hadley66 Feb 19, 2012 01:13 PM

                    I always found Taste chaotic and unsettling. I never liked hanging out in there. I like a calm environment in general, which is why I prefer the rehab. But, hey, everyone is different.....thanks goodness! ;)

                    1. re: Science Chick
                      Hadley66 RE: Science Chick Feb 29, 2012 10:05 AM

                      Indeed, to each their own!
                      I guess my biggest problem with the new George Howell Coffee isn't that it's peaceful or calm, it's the specific aesthetic by which they've chosen to accentuate that feeling. It's just so... blah. It really looks to me like the check in area of a day spa.
                      My regular spot now is Area Four in Cambridge, due mostly to its proximity to my office but also due to its much more pleasing look and feel. It's just as quiet as GHC, perhaps more so, but it has better a energy and more interesting look.

                2. tatsu RE: lipoff Feb 12, 2012 04:15 PM

                  We dropped by for a small cup of Columbian while waiting for a table at the excellent Rox Dinner down the street. The coffee and product is pretty much the same. It looks much much better as others mentioned.

                  The counter person told me that George bought Taste a year and half ago, so I wonder where the original owners went. 3 years or so ago, they were one of very first serious coffee shops around here. I never made it to Taste before George took over.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tatsu
                    hckybg RE: tatsu Feb 12, 2012 06:04 PM

                    The young guy who owned it wanted to go back home to California. Here's the article Howell posted at the time: http://www.terroircoffee.com/content/...

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