Which Boston Coffee Shop Should You Be Getting Your Java At?

Cappuccinos at Piadina Cafe & Coffee Bar in the Financial District.
Cappuccinos at Piadina Cafe & Coffee Bar in the Financial District. –ANN TRIEGER KURLAND /THE BOSTON GLOBE

One thing Bostonians love are their coffee shops. Here is a list of places to get your morning brew. Are you getting your coffee from the right place?

THE THINKING CUP, 165 Tremont St. Boston Common

The Thinking Cup, which now has three locations throughout the city, serves Stumptown Coffee, which has been rated the best coffee in the world by NPR, The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine and USA Today.

Pros: There is no wifi. Come for good conversation or some reading.

Cons: There is no wifi. Don’t come with the idea that you are going to get your web surfing work done.


Popular drink/food: According to Thinking Cup barista Martin Jurczuk, hazelnut latte and grilled cheese are crowd pleasers.

Who goes here? Jurczuk said that people from all over the world, students, visitors and locals frequent the coffee shop.

Fun Fact: “Our tables are interesting because we made them ourselves,’’ Jurczuk said. “We have all newspapers in the tables from 100-200 years old. It looks very French, old school and also kinda new school because of the machines.’’

PAVEMENT COFFEEHOUSE, 736 Commonwealth Ave. Boston University

Pavement serves Counter Culture Coffee, a Boston-based coffee distributer, and at each of their four locations displays local artists’ work.

Pros: According to assistant manager Evan Arndt, Pavement “is a coffee shop that tries to do everything well. Some places in Boston you can get good coffee or food or latte art, but there are also drawbacks when you focus on one more than the others.’’

Cons: Sometimes it can be tough to find a seat, especially during the school year, and wifi is only free for two hours. But, they have a pricing structure that is very reasonable and wireless access can be bought on a weekly or monthly basis.

Popular drink/food: Arndt said the Spanish latte and the Sunrise breakfast sandwich are some of their most popular items on the menu.


Who goes here? “We are right on BU [campus], so we have a lot of students and faculty,’’ Arndt said. “But, this past year we have got a lot of weekend and summer folks from Brookline.’’ Arndt attributed this change to Pavement’s remodel and switch from the former Cafe Royal, making it less of only a “college hangout’’ spot.

Fun Fact: Pavement baristas love their latte art. Arndt said he was taught how to do the art during his training, but it took a lot of practice to get the hang of it. His favorite design to do is a rossetta, because he can pour it better than tulips.

DUNKIN’ DONUTS, Locations too numerous to mention

The saying goes, “America Runs on Dunkin’,’’ but let’s be honest, Boston specifically runs on Dunkin’. Turn your head to the right or left and bet ya you can see one. If not three.

Pros: It is cheap and consistent and was just ranked the Best Cheap Coffee in Boston by Boston Magazine. And, well, donuts. So many donuts.

Cons: Don’t expect to get a fancy “pour over’’ or 5 star gourmet food, but a Dunkin’ Coffee and a donut may be just what you need to start your work week.

Popular drink/food: According to Thrillist, and some donut eating experts, the simple glazed donut was ranked Dunkin’s number one donut.

Who goes here? Everyone. Minus the haters.

Fun Fact: According to their website, on average they sell 30 cups of coffee every second.



Boston Common Coffee Co. roasts their own coffee daily in Hopedale, Mass. They get their coffee from all around the world and also have a selection of naturally flavored coffee, such as cinnamon hazelnut and coconut.

Pros: Team member Briana Cervantes said they are “a kinda everyday homey breakfast sandwich place’’ that is very relaxing for customers. In the summer they also have tables outside where people love to sit and chat.

Cons: Cervantes said they wouldn’t consider themselves upscale or classy and their lighting is pretty dark, but it’s what gives them their homey feel.

Popular drink/food: “The most popular drink is the iced coffee,’’ Cervantes said. They brew their iced coffee for 6-8 hours overnight by using 5 lbs. of coffee and 16 quarts of cold water. Their most popular food item are their ‘Thursday donuts,’ only available on Thursdays.

Who goes here? Cervantes said older North End residents, families, and students from North Bennet Street School and Suffolk University spend time at the coffee shop.

Fun Fact: They sponsor their own cycling group based out of mainly Central Massachusetts and open to riders of all levels.

WIRED PUPPY, 250 Newbury St. Back Bay

Wired Puppy has a fabulous outdoor patio on Newbury St, just a short walk from the Prudential Center. They get their coffee from Jim’s Organic in Wareham, Mass, which is fair trade and organic.

Pros: According to manager Mike Nirenberg they always have three roasts on drip at all times, which is not something you find everywhere. They also have a coffee bar where they do individually made cups of coffee with pour overs.

Cons: Don’t come here looking for a large lunch menu. Wired Puppy has muffins and scones, but not many other food items. But, their baked goods made in house are still worth a try.

Popular drink/food: Nirenberg said their coffees, along with lattes and cappucinos are their most popular items. People come there for the coffee, according to Nirenberg.

Who goes here? “We have a lot of local customers from Back Bay and a lot of foot traffic from the Prudential,’’ Nirenberg said. He also mentioned that customers regularly say that their small, but dedicated staff is great and they get to know their customers.

Fun Fact: Their logo is of an ecstatic green dog drinking coffee.

TRIDENT BOOKS, 338 Newbury St. Back Bay

Trident has been in its current location for 30 years. They stick to their roots, but at the same time try to evolve with the times to meet all of their customers’ needs.

Pros: Trident is a cafe where you can work, a restaurant where you can eat homecooked-esque food AND a bookstore to shop. Also, free wifi all day, with no time limit on how long you can sit!

Cons: They don’t have fancy coffee drinks or special brews, but they have plenty else to make up for it.

Popular drink/food: According to Courtney Flynn, Trident Bookstore manger, the breakfast sandwich (an open-faced sandwich with lots of eggs, cheese, bacon and avocado) is the most popular food item. “It’s a melty, delicious mess!’’ she said. In the drinks category, the juices hit the spot for customers, especially the “fresh complexion,’’ which is a blend of pineapple, cucumber and celery.

Who goes here? “We always say it is truly everyone,’’ Flynn said. “Students from local neighborhoods, tourists or people who used to go to school here and come back.’’

Fun Fact: Trident also has trivia night every Friday, cooking demos, paint nights and a variety of other unique events. They also serve alcohol.

STARBUCKS, Locations across the area

Oh Starbucks. People say that want to eat and drink local, only going to non-chain restaurants and cafes, but Starbucks looms in the distance and people can’t stop coming. This Seattle-based coffee shop is everywhere and is always growing.

Pros: You know what you are getting. With a large coffee chain like Starbucks, your drinks and will be fairly consistent. They have free wifi, plenty of plugs and most of the time, pretty nice music.

Cons: You know what you are getting. You may not get the quirkiness or originality of other coffee shops in the area. You may be unpleasantly surprised at just how expensive a beverage can get.

Popular drink/food: According to Business Insider it ranges from city to city. In Boston, most prefer a dark brew.

Who goes here? Let’s be honest, most people go to or have been to a Starbucks at some point in their life.

Fun Fact: Starbucks has added an average of two stores on a daily basis since 1987, according to Business Insider.

NEIGHBORHOODS, 96 Peterborough St. Fenway

Neighborhoods is not a chain, has quaint French decor lining the walls and they get their coffee from a local roaster, George Howell Coffee in Acton, Mass. Come for the coffee, stay for the crepes (or vice versa).

Pros: They source their coffee, tea and food as local as possible and as organic and additive free as possible. According to Charlotte Mosinki, the manager, the products are “basically as you would serve the food in your kitchen.’’ Also, they have extension cords for people to plug in their computers and free wifi during the week! (Genius.)

Cons: Portions can be pretty small for a somewhat expensive price, but they are delicious and might just be worth the splurge. Also, no wifi on weekends.

Popular drink/food: Mosinki said the most popular beverage changes by the day, but that it is typically straight up coffee, a latte or a cappuccino. The Sweet Simplicity crepe, which includes a fair-trade hazelnut spread with strawberries and/or bananas.

Who goes here? According to Mosinki their demographics are, “Mainly students from colleges around Fenway, young professionals and people who work in offices around Fenway.’’

Fun Fact: Mosinki said they are very involved in the local community and, especially in the summer, throw parties where vendors come and customers can get free samples.

CAPITOL COFFEE HOUSE, 122 Bowdoin St. Beacon Hill

Pros: Capitol Coffee House is right in the middle of the city near the Statehouse, with easy access from public transportation and unlimited free wifi, it can be quite convenient.

Cons: It has been around since 1977 and the decor is pretty outdated, so if you are going for the modern and sleek look this might not be your place. But want some quality food and coffee and big portion sizes? Head on down.

Popular drink/food: “It’s the generation of the cappuccino and the latte,’’ the employee said, so those drinks are the regulars’ favorite. The “special’’ its a top selling food item, as it includes eggs, pancakes, a breakfast meat and home fries.

Who goes here? The employee referred the coffee house’s area as a melting pot and that their diverse customer base reflects that.

Fun Fact: “Each and every one of our employees have been here for over 15 years,’’ the employee said. “We know the customers and so we don’t have much turnover.’’

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