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A good Coffee roaster in greater Boston area any suggestions?

salimykid Oct 29, 2013 02:41 AM

Thank you for any suggestions.

  1. p
    pemma Oct 30, 2013 11:01 AM

    Mystic Coffee Roaster, Medford Square


    1. CapeCodGuy Oct 29, 2013 12:49 PM

      How about places for quality green coffee beans? My brother keeps extolling the virtues of home roasting, and I have to admit, he makes a fine home brew. I already have a good burr grinder and filtered water, so I'm almost there anyway. Actually, on his last visit he said his expensive home roaster is gathering dust as he gets a better result with an old aluminum popcorn popper pan (He likes a dark roast). The kind where you crank the handle. I have that too so all I need is beans. Anyone?

      8 Replies
      1. re: CapeCodGuy
        Klunco Oct 29, 2013 12:54 PM

        Yeah, I got into home roasting for a while and then fell out of it. Luckily, the only investment was a popcorn popper (I used an electric air-popper style). My issue was always that the roast size was too small given the time investment.

        Anyway, I always ordered beans from SweetMarias.com which has a wide selection at reasonable prices AND they move a lot of green beans. I believe the shelf life of green beans is a year.

        It's a fun project from time to time though. Good luck!

        1. re: Klunco
          StriperGuy Oct 29, 2013 01:04 PM

          With a cast iron skillet you can roast a pretty decent amount. The Sweet Maria's web site also has great directions.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            CapeCodGuy Oct 29, 2013 01:18 PM

            Thanks to both of you! Can't hurt to experiment with a couple of pounds. I like the sounds of high end coffee (potentially) at around $6/lb.!

            1. re: CapeCodGuy
              StriperGuy Oct 29, 2013 01:23 PM

              You actually lose some weight roasting, but it's still kinda fun and a bargain. You WILL smoke up the house a bit, so be forewarned and open the windows.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                Klunco Oct 29, 2013 01:49 PM

                Yeah and the most ironic part was coffee roasting smells very different from roasted coffee. While roasting it mostly just smells like burning.

                1. re: Klunco
                  StriperGuy Oct 29, 2013 01:58 PM

                  True, true, it's only when you grind it that you get the awesome coffee smell.

                  1. re: StriperGuy
                    CapeCodGuy Oct 29, 2013 05:21 PM

                    Good to know. Thanks.

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  emannths Oct 30, 2013 12:52 PM

                  The yield is something like 80% by weight, if I recall correctly. So add 25% to the price of green beans to get the equivalent roasted price.

        2. MABMAQ Oct 29, 2013 11:28 AM

          Armeno Coffee Roasters in Northboro.


          2 Replies
          1. re: MABMAQ
            Science Chick Oct 29, 2013 11:48 AM

            I was getting coffee from them for a while (I pass by there each morning), but it sort of fell flat for me once I got used to theirs. Not bad, just not as good as Karma. I also like Birds and Beans coffee, but they don't date theirs.

            1. re: MABMAQ
              ChinaCat Oct 30, 2013 01:48 PM

              I love Armeno's too. They have a terrific Maui grown coffee (Maui Mokka) that is expensive but so good. I also regularly by their Ethiopian Harrar.

            2. l
              lergnom Oct 29, 2013 09:49 AM

              I like the way Flat Black roasts their coffees. They roast beans in Dorchester Lower Mills.

              BTW, I just checked their website before posting this and the news section on the main page had a "Loren ipsum" fill. Hilarious.

              13 Replies
              1. re: lergnom
                emannths Oct 29, 2013 09:55 AM

                Do they have dates on the bags? I took a quick look one day and couldn't find any. Without dates, I can't bring myself to pay anything more than grocery store prices.

                1. re: emannths
                  Science Chick Oct 29, 2013 10:52 AM

                  Yes, Karma dates their beans

                  1. re: emannths
                    davis_sq_pro Oct 29, 2013 11:03 AM

                    No dates on their bags. I was a regular there and asked several times. Unfortunately, despite them continually telling me that dates don't matter ("older coffee is actually better a lot of the time!" said one barista ... another time one seemed almost angry when I asked, demanding to know why I cared), I definitely had mixed luck. Some of the beans I bought there were extraordinary, and some of them were obviously ancient and didn't bloom at all.

                    These days I've switched to Tonx, an online/subscription-based service. I'm spending a bit more but the quality is fairly consistent and I'm much happier.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      Science Chick Oct 29, 2013 11:49 AM

                      Wait, are we talking about Flat Black or Karma? I was sure Karma dates theirs.....I'm getting impossibly lost in this thread...sorry!

                      1. re: Science Chick
                        davis_sq_pro Oct 29, 2013 11:57 AM

                        I was specifically referring to Flat Black. I think your Karma subthread is a few messages up. Maybe you replied at the wrong place?

                        BTW, two other things worth noting:

                        A) Another WF offering is Allegro in bulk, which often includes dates. I've had some excellent batches from the Fresh Pond WF (notably, a Kona blend they were doing for a while).

                        B) Flat Black's Bali coffee is worth getting even without the presence of a date on the bag. It's really interesting, with a lot of strawberry aroma.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro
                          Science Chick Oct 29, 2013 12:15 PM

                          Thanks for the clarification, davis_sq...yes, looks like I hit reply in the wrong spot.

                          FYI, the dates on the bulk Allegro coffee are not roast dates...they are dates the bins were filled! However, I have purchased the bin coffee there and it is pretty decent most of the time. Not on caliber with most of the others mentioned here, though

                          1. re: Science Chick
                            davis_sq_pro Oct 29, 2013 12:20 PM

                            Hm, admittedly it's been a year or two since I've bought there, but I seem to recall it saying "roast date." Maybe it depends on the WF? I think some of them (e.g. Fresh Pond) roast in house. Or at least did.

                            Agreed that it's not on the same level as many of the places listed herein, but I think it can be significantly better than a lot of the other offerings available in the area, e.g. Dunk's or Starbucks. And as I said, there was this one particularly transcendent Kona blend...

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro
                              Klunco Oct 29, 2013 12:56 PM

                              Yeah I remember there was another thread where I was complaining about this and that my local WF (Brighton) does "filled by" as opposed to "roasted on" and someone, maybe you David_Sq, did say your local does "roasted on," so it probably just depends on the WF.

                              That said, I buy beans at WF from time to time as they are decent and inexpensive and definitely better than the rest of the coffee in that class (DD/Charbucks)

                              1. re: Klunco
                                bear Oct 29, 2013 02:20 PM

                                It does depend on the WF location. Not all of them roast on premises. The Fresh Pond store has bins that say "Filled on" and bins that say "Roasted on". I can't say the beans are particularly complex and certainly not of the quality of Barismo or Barrington, but I will pick up their fresh-roasted beans for convenience on occasion.

                                I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned Stumptown, but I'll throw them into the mix for quality beans. I've gotten them at Thinking Cup and think they are right up there with the best.

                      2. re: davis_sq_pro
                        redips Oct 29, 2013 01:14 PM

                        I too am a regular at the Lower Mills Flat Black. Although I enjoy their coffee, I have also noted that not all their bags have dates... (although some do)

                        That said, although the commonly accepted principle is that fresh beans are best, I actually prefer coffee beans a few days off roast for the reason that a fresh grind creates so much co2, and the crema is so thick, that I can't get extract enough flavour. I have discussed just this with the morning guys, and they seemed to share the sentiment. Perhaps that is the origin of their comment?

                        1. re: redips
                          Klunco Oct 29, 2013 01:43 PM

                          Correct. Freshly roasted coffee needs 24-48 hours to degass, so fresh is a "relative" term. Also, some espresso enthusiasts will wait a day or two longer arguing that too much crema is after only 24-48.

                          That said, after 14 days, it would be a tough argument to say that the coffee is still at its peak, so freshness does matter.

                          1. re: redips
                            davis_sq_pro Oct 29, 2013 01:45 PM

                            I think it depends on your brewing technique. If you're doing pourover (which is how I brew), you can pour in maybe 100g of water to start, let everything bloom and de-gas for a minute or so, and then pour on the rest. This way you can work with fresh coffee and not worry about the CO2 getting in the way of your water.

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro
                              emannths Oct 30, 2013 12:50 PM

                              Yeah--the degassing thing is really only relevant to espresso. Drip/pourover/presspot/etc, it doesn't have any effect as long as you manage the bloom.

                              I think a lot of places don't think about the fact that most customers won't use more than a 12oz bag per week (I make coffee daily and a bag usually lasts me two weeks). So while a bag that's 10 days off roast is probably fine that day, by the time the customer uses it up it's way past its prime. When you're a barista/manager that goes through several pounds of coffee per day, I don't think you realize this, thus the "eh, it's fresh enough" attitude.

                    2. e
                      emannths Oct 29, 2013 09:48 AM

                      Nth-ing the Barismo recommendation. Barrington too. I think those two account for about 95% of the beans I've bought over the past few years.

                      You can buy Intelligentsia and Stumptown at Bloc 11 and Diesel in Somerville. Gimme! is available at Three Little Figs (also Somerville). They're not roasted in the Boston area, but they are on shelves within a couple days of roasting.

                      Regardless of roaster, check the dates. Most places get weekly shipments, so ask for stuff from the back if everything on the shelf is older than one week.

                      1. Science Chick Oct 29, 2013 09:29 AM

                        I've been recently getting Karma Coffee beans at WF and, frankly, they blow away anything else I've had locally. We use them for espresso at home.

                        They are located in Sudbury where they sell beans or by-the-cup

                        1. j
                          jajjguy Oct 29, 2013 08:16 AM

                          Like Gremolata, I like Barismo very much. Dwelltime cafe in Cambridge is same ownership. You can also get their beans at Simon's and Voltage, both in Cambridge.

                          George Howell Coffee is the only other high quality roaster in the area that I'm aware of. They are in Acton. Crema in Harvard Sq uses and sells their beans. George arguably was the first to bring good fresh coffee to the region in the early 80s with Coffee Connection. He's not alone anymore, but is still one of the best.

                          A bit further afield, Barrington Coffee does great work in Western Mass. They have a cafe and retail location in Boston. Cafe Fixe in Brookline sells and serves their stuff.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jajjguy
                            Klunco Oct 29, 2013 08:50 AM

                            Couldn't have said it better myself. I particularly like Barismo because for us super coffee-nerds who pull using PID machines, they put their temperature recommendations on the beans. I think Barismo beans could easily be a national contender.

                            Recently I've been buying Barrington Coffee at Cafe Fixe (they also have a place in Fort Point) and have been very impressed and found them reasonably priced, especially considering the quality. My last two have been their most recent Yirgacheffe Kochere which is fantastic. Highly recommended.

                            George Howell is great but his beans are more expensive than the others and I find it hard to find fresh beans at their distribution sites (ie. Whole foods, Crema Coffee) so I go directly to the store in Newton. If I'm paying for high quality coffee, I expect it to be freshly roasted.

                            Counter Culture has a roastery here as well and I find their coffee good but I'm not sure it's quite as good as the other three given their pricing. Nevertheless, their beans are good.

                            Finally, and most importantly, any good roaster will place a "Roasted On" date on the bag. If there is no roasted on date, or it says "best by" or "filled on," caveat emptor. Roasted coffee is best consumed within 10-14 days of roasting.

                            1. re: jajjguy
                              srgoodman Oct 29, 2013 08:52 AM

                              I agree with both posters above about George Howell and Barismo. As a home roaster, these two roasters consistently exceed what I'm capable of doing on my own.

                              George Howell owns a cafe on Walnut Street in Newtonville that brews and sells his coffee. The Acton location, at least the last time I checked, was not really set up for on-site retail sales. They will sell you coffee, but they prefer that you call first to confirm they have stock of the coffee you want.

                            2. g
                              Gremolata Oct 29, 2013 02:59 AM

                              I have been consistently pleased with Barismo, on Mass Ave in Arlington, right over the border from Cambridge. I believe that they sell their roasted beans at a number of locations (other stores), so you wouldn't have to trek to Arlington.

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