Go Boston: Comfy Cozy Cafes
You've got to get out of the apartment - to work, to read, to escape that creeping cabin fever - but you don't want to look like a loner. Where do you go?
First off, no one in Boston gives a sh** if you're a loner.
Second, go here:
This newish coffee shop on Mass Ave (across the street from the Mass Ave orange line stop) sings “Stay With Me” Bing Crosby-style into your heart. They’ve got vinyl covers on the wall, a mural on the ceiling, a big ol’ window seat, an exclusively warm color scheme, the wafting scent of bagel sandwiches grilled to order, and blues on loop. Pair that with a few of the kindest coffee roasters I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, as well as their truly kickass Ethiopian coffee, and you’ve got Cozy Central.
The only thing stopping me from bringing a blanket into this place is its location – square in the middle of the Judgment Zone (i.e. next to Emerson College and the apartment towers that seem to house Every Attractive International Person in Boston). That being said, this place is a chill-magnet. Around half of the people at Nero have set up camp for reading or working all afternoon, and the other half are investing a couple hours to catch up with a friend. Not that I blame them (I am in fact one of them), because this Italian import is The Study of Your Dreams from The Mansion You Always Wanted. They got armchairs, they got couches, they got a(n unlit) fireplace, and they got bookshelves full of mysterious old tomes you’re not totally sure you can actually touch. You’re going to want to lounge, and have a book to lounge with.
Just, good luck finding a seat to do your lounging (shoot for late afternoon).
Jaho Coffee in the South End has been around a while (and is also great), but this location has a leg up on its sister: booze. Jaho Chinatown has a solid collection of good sipping wine, local craft beers, and daily cocktail creations that, with their array of cake and pastry options, make for a perfect post-dinner nightcap. They also have bubble tea (this is Chinatown after all) and coffee options for everyone from latte lovers to hardcore I-only-drink-fresh-ground-and-hand-poured a**hol- um, "selective types." Sure.
All that and the sleek, modern build-out make for an eclectic mix, but one that manages to feel welcoming all the same. Jaho owns its eccentricity, and it’s hard not to feel comfortable in a place so comfortable with itself.
Seeing as how I usually venture to cafes by myself (no pity), I have a very good chance at finding a seat wherever I go. However, I have an extremely high failure rate at Thinking Cup’s other locations on Boston Common and Newbury Street, regardless of the time of day.
Hey, they’re busy, good for them.
The fact that I can always find a seat at their North End café, however, puts it at the top of the list. I do also find that the interior here seems more spacious and inviting, and the staff a little less harried – again, owing to the slightly less busy nature of this location. As for the coffee, once you get done gawking at their award-winning latte art you’ll find a refreshingly not-super-sweet sip awaiting you (unless you get an affogato...see top). Pro Tip: read the old newspaper that is your tabletop – it will likely be fascinating.
Pavement is home base for me. Now, some people might say it’s a hipster haven for mediocre coffee, but to those people I say, Talk to me when you’re done sucking down your large iced 3 creams 4 sugars Dunks coffee extravaganza.
Given its proximity to Northeasern and New England Conservatory, it can be hard to find a seat during peak hours, and especially during brunchtime on weekends. So, don’t come then. Or do, but don’t whine about it.
Anyway, Pavement’s cool with you kicking back for a couple hours if your back can handle the plain wooden chairs, or you could get lucky and snag a coveted cushioned seat on the booth bench. The space is homey, well lit, and usually complemented by a solid, or at worst “interesting” playlist (climactic orchestral opera scores, anyone?). Oh, and the coffee exceeds mediocre, in case you were wondering.
I love me a good café, coffee shop, whatever you call it. I told you mine, so you tell me yours, below. It's only fair(-trade).