The 30 Best Coffee Shops & Cafes in Boston

JUN 17, 2019

Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to work for a few hours, a social spot to grab a cuppa with some friends, or a trusted spot for to-go coffee orders, we’ve got you the perfect cafe for your needs.

Some days we all feel like slurping our way through a Dunkin’ iced or a venti frappe, but there are dozens of local cafes — some more bougie than others — that make great coffee and baked goods. If you’re at all picky about where you get your coffee, you ought to know every one of the places on this list.

This list highlights 30 of the best cafes and coffee shops in Boston and the surrounding area. Next time you need a shot of caffeine or a quick bite, check out one of the many options on our list.


  • Cafes with Free Wi-Fi
  • Cafes with No Free Wi-Fi
Cafes with Free Wi-Fi
Cafes with No Free Wi-Fi

Best Overall

Render Coffee

South End, $$

Quick breakfast bites and artisanal coffee drinks are in the spotlight at Render Coffee, one of our favorite hubs to gather – or pop in for a quick caffeine boost when we’re on the run.

The concept took flight in 2011 and now has two spots: the South End and the Financial District. Locally owned and operated, Render Coffee is a casual spot with a modern flair – we can’t get enough of the hazelnut latte, and swear by the malted cold brew.

For a sweet tooth at any age, hot chocolate or a kid’s cocoa are irresistible, and sandwiches at breakfast or lunch are a good call, too – in fact, pick up a box of fresh bagels for the office and ride that wave of popularity all day long!


Pricey, but well-rounded cafe for any occasion with quality eats and Tandem coffee. Free Wi-Fi with a two-hour limit. Limited outlets. Get the hot hazelnut latte, the cappuccino, and the malted cold brew. Croissants and bagelwiches are always a hit.

Best Iced Latte

Cafe Fixe

Brookline, $$

One elegant cup at a time, Cafe Fixe prepares gourmet espresso, latte, brewed coffee and tea drinks to regulars and the lucky folks passing through Brookline, seven days a week. The star of the show just might be their “precisely tuned” Fetco Extractor, or it might be the Abid Clever Dripper for those pour-over delights.

If espresso’s your game, you’ll be pleased to know that Cafe Fixe serves Barrington Gold, with a weekly-rotating special guest star. The space has a delightfully upscale, modern feel to it – but these folks have a knack for supplying the basics and Cafe Fixe treats (menus change often, and they encourage phone calls!) that anyone passing by will need to get through the day.


Not the kind of cafe for hanging our for hours with a laptop. Come here for coffee beans and not a whole lot else. If you can accept this, it is a great place for high quality coffee.

Best Matcha Latte

Ogawa Coffee

Downtown, $$

Ogawa Coffee is well loved in Boston, but it’s actually a Japanese chain bringing us complementary Asian small bites with our brew. Founded in Kyoto, Ogawa Coffee strives for coffee perfection, where they began roasting coffee in 1952. Their Boston outpost is the first in America, and its own doors opened in 2015.

A variety of sodas, espresso and coffee drinks round out a menu that’s highlighted by what Ogawa claims to be their signature drink: chilled and sweetened espresso served in a martini glass, served with a small cappuccino.

They also highlight a pour-over Kalita, the Deconstructed Cortado (cortado and its individual parts: a single shot of house blend espresso and foamed milk), and a few others that really must be tried. It’s an elegant take on the coffee shop format, and worth the visit.


The space is suitable for working and there are also bleachers-style seating to accommodate those who just want to eat a quick bite.

Best Cafe to Work

Darwin’s Ltd.

Cambridge, $$

The American workforce is increasingly going mobile, with remote work options boosting productivity and greatly increasing convenience. If you’re working remotely or writing an essay for class, then Darwin’s Ltd. is one of the best to sit down and crank out a few thousand words.

It’s a deli-slash-cafe, which means you can get your snack or lunch on after the coffee’s working its magic to help you power through the day. Darwin’s has been serving up pop-ins and hangouts for over 25 years now and has four locations.

With great sandwiches, free Wi-Fi, and plenty of outlets, you can bet Darwin’s is especially popular with Harvard and MIT students as well as young professionals, especially on weekends.


Spacious with plenty of seating, great for meeting up with a couple other people to chat. As far as food goes, the Walden sandwich or the MIT burrito are my personal favorites.

Best Cafe for Dates

Andala Coffee House

Cambridge, $

A slightly cheaper option in Cambridge right off Mass Ave is Andala Coffee House, with natural food selections and Middle Eastern flair—including an on-site hookah lounge.

While many cafes in Cambridge can get densely packed or noisy, Andala is a relaxing environment that’s great for having a long chat, reading a book, meeting a friend, playing chess, or doing work.

Owned by Palestinians, this is the place to go for authentic Levantine food. Try the Turkish or Arabic coffees (Andala isn’t known for its standard coffee drinks like lattes or cold brews).


If you’re hungry, the shakshuka and its many dessert options are  excellent choices. More of a tea person? Andala’s got you covered with a decent selection.

Best Cafe for Healthy Food

Trident Booksellers and Cafe

Back Bay, $$

Grabbing a bite to go or visiting your favorite local cafe doesn’t have to mean settling for unhealthy food. Trident Booksellers and Cafe tops our list of Boston’s local legends that serve healthy food in a cafe setting.

All-day breakfast is served on the second floor, with the added bonus of reading your pick from the indie bookstore. Reading groups, book clubs, and trivia nights guarantee there’s almost always something happening, and the cafe is open from 8 a.m. until midnight seven days a week.


Another great cafe with healthy food in Boston is Equal Exchange Cafe, a snug spot with co-op sourced drink ingredients and an emphasis on a vegetarian menu.

Best Pastries

Elmendorf Baking Supplies and Cafe

Cambridge, $$

Ah, the pastry—one of the world’s most delightful baked goods and the perfect complement to a hot coffee, tea, or meal. It’s no wonder why pastries figure so prominently into the menus of cafes and coffee shops the world over, and there’s certainly no shortage of fresh pastries in Beantown. Which cafe do we beeline toward for the best pastries?

Operated by a friendly and knowledgeable husband-wife duo, Elmendorf offers delicious pastries, good coffee, and an exceptionally-curated selection of teas.

Look no further than Elmendorf Baking Supplies and Cafe. Elmendorf is a relatively young spot, but it’s already making big waves as a community space for bakers with equipment, specialty ingredients, and in-house milled grains. Keep an eye on this one.


Great place for baking tools as well as advice from experienced bakers.

Best Cafe in Downtown Boston

George Howell Coffee

Downtown, $$

Our pick for the best cafe in Downtown Boston is George Howell Coffee, founded in 2004. Its namesake founder has been in the cafe business since 1974, so he knows a thing or two.

The people at George Howell Coffee are committed to bringing visitors the best coffees on Earth and consider themselves coffee ambassadors, forging relationships with the farmers who grow the beans as much as they get to know the regulars who stop in daily. Stop by to see which specialty roasts and limited edition varieties the cafe has available—you won’t regret it.


George Howell might not be the best cafe environment, but there’s no question that their coffee is some of the best in Boston.

Best Cafe in the North End

Caffè Paradiso

North End, $$

The best cafe in the North End has to be Caffè Paradiso, which positions itself as a traditional Italian cafe destination with gelato and espresso being some of the most-requested treats on the menu.

Night owl? Seven days a week, Caffè Paradiso opens its doors for business at 7 a.m. promptly and doesn’t close until 2 a.m. What’s more, Caffè Paradiso has been open since 1962 and is now three generations strong with independent family ownership. It just feels great to walk in the doors here.

It’s a lot more than just buzzed-up morning drinks; you’ll want to be familiar with the full menu, which includes signature specialty cocktails like Paradiso and an espresso martini.


An excellent post-brunch dessert stop, with a tempting display of gelato, cakes, cannoli, and delicious drinks. Try the tiramisu. $10 minimum for credit cards.

Best Breakfast Cafe

3 Little Figs

Somerville, $$

We love the cheeky name, but the food is what really shines at 3 Little Figs. The cafe’s gourmet brew and top-of-the-line breakfast and lunch items are hard to beat.

Choose from the signature Lil Figgy sandwich or one of the specialties: Greek yogurt, brunch bowl, ranchero bowl, Greek muesli, chai pudding, Greek salad, or falafel salad. Not a bad way to start the day. Due to its popularity, 3 Little Figs has a no Wi-Fi or computers policy on weekends.

Beyond 3 Little Figs, we’re also drawn to Explorateur on Tremont for its European feel and French-Californian inspired plates.


Long lines, but it moves quickly. Try the Marketplace (prosciutto, goat cheese, fig jam), the Village (sweet potato, goat cheese, arugula), and the Pepper Biscuit (egg and cheese). Great matcha latte.

Best Cafe in Chinatown


Chinatown, $$

Enjoy the best of both worlds: coffee and wine. Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar takes it even further than that—its house-made Japanese-style soft serve keeps our summer months unbelievably cool.

You’ll see hipsters and casual customers mingling here over free Wi-Fi all day long, with hours kicking off around 6:30-7 in the morning and doors staying open until about 11 or 12 at night.


Must-haves are the Cinnamon Bliss, Iced Hanoi, and the maple soy latte.

Best Cafe in Back Bay

Farmer Horse Coffee

Southie, $

Farmer Horse Coffee is our pick for the best cafe in Back Bay. On the drink side of things, their Ethiopian coffee is some of the best we’ve had the pleasure to sip.

The menu includes snacks and sandwiches to get you through the day, too, so consider picking up a chicken sandwich, egg sandwich, croissant, or piece of cake before moving on.

The Turkthon is always a reliable option, as well as the sweet potato sandwich.

Farmer Horse Coffee is open 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday. Plan accordingly.


Not only do they do great coffee; their tea options are on-point. Free Wi-Fi is available and you even use their printer for a small fee.

Best Cafe in Cambridge

Broadsheet Coffee Roasters

Back Bay, $$

Cambridge has a lot to crow about, and Broadsheet Coffee Roasters is our favorite in Cambridge for good reason. It’s not only a fantastic roastery, but it also serves up espresso creations and light bites for anyone who makes their way inside the Kirkland Street location.

The beans are sourced from around the world, ensuring a fresh supply of premium coffee is always on hand, roasted twice a week. Breakfast and lunch munchies include smoked salmon tartine, kofta meatball sliders, smoked salmon English muffin, and a kid’s pancake if you’ve got the family in tow. Trust us—everything here is worth trying at least once.


Well-labeled menu options are great for those with gluten-free diets, celiac disease, or lactose-intolerance. Best for small groups.

Best Cafe in Seaport

La Colombe Coffee Roasters

Seaport, $$

Its headquarters may be in Philadelphia, but the local La Colombe Coffee Roasters shop beats out the Seaport competition for good reason. Hot, cold, or canned, the good stuff is here, and it’s been keeping the working professionals in Seaport at it, no matter how you like your coffee.

The draft lattes are unlike anything else in the area, combining a nitrogen pour of brewed cold coffee with espresso and cream.

Vanilla, mocha, triple shot, and peppermint mocha draft latte is a must-try for curious coffee fiends and beverage buffs alike. Seasonal drinks include honeysuckle draft latte and pumpkin spice draft latte.


Gets packed around lunchtime. Try the black and tan. No free Wi-Fi.

Best Cafe in Jamaica Plain

7 Pond Coffee Bar

Jamaica Plain, $$

No-frills artisanal espresso served up in a small, unassuming space—that’s what makes 7 Pond Coffee Bar a popular JP joint. Owned by the same person that opened Cafe Fixe, this place serves Barrington coffee.

Not a whole lot of spots to sit down and do work for a few hours. The environment is better suited to short conversations between a few people.

Open daily from about 6:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. or so, the espresso itself garners praise from new visitors and returning regulars alike, but we especially take note of claims that 7 Pond Coffee Bar brews the best coffee in all of Boston. Get your buzz on in Jamaica Plain, where in-the-know caffeine hounds get their fix.


Come here to catch up with your friends over a cup of coffee.

Best Gourmet Coffee

Gracenote Coffee

Chinatown, $

Gracenote Coffee Roasters’ nitrogen cold brew is just one of the reasons we think it’s the go-to spot for a premium-quality cuppa. The unassuming spot on Lincoln Street is tiny, but it packs a serious wallop when it comes to the good stuff.

An accompanying pastry menu offers a rotating selection of snacks, and there are two daily specialty espressos to choose from: Alpha, considered a classic, and a single-origin espresso, updated every day of the week.

Make your way straight to Gracenote for gourmet coffee and breakfast and lunch service seven days a week.


Excellent cortados.

Best Flat Whites


Downtown Boston, $

Dreaming of Australia? The small local chain CuppaCoffee brings a taste of the land Down Under to Boston with three locations. The cafe aims to deliver Boston’s best espresso here alongside food for those nostalgic for Australia. Founder Todd Moore fell in love with the Boston harbor and all that goes with it, moved here from Sydney in 1999, and the rest is history.

There isn’t a lot of space to sit – just a counter that runs the length of the place, which isn’t very big. But nobody is there for very long, since it’s mostly a spot to grab something on the go. 

Flat whites, one of Australia’s gifts to coffee connoisseurs, are similar to lattes but with less microfoam to bring out the espresso aroma. It comes highly recommended at CuppaCoffee, so begin planning your next trip.


They have the most marvelous Aussie meat pies, so if you’re in need of a nice hot savory snack, you’ve come to the right place.

Best Espresso

Simon’s Coffee Shop

Cambridge, $

Simon’s Coffee Shop, located on Massachusetts Avenue, is our pick for a concentrated caffeine infusion. Open daily until 6 p.m., this place gets rave reviews from passersby and returning customers from sunup to sundown.

Creative presentation is just the beginning here. Aside from the espresso, customers order bagels, tea lattes, and a number of flavor shots—or go for the coffee of the day, with a rotating selection. When nothing will satisfy like the black gold of espresso, Simon’s Coffee Shop is the place to be.

Warm up in the wintertime with a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and dried fruits mixed in.


Great selection of vegan and gluten-free pastries. Wi-Fi is $2 an hour.

Best Cafe in the Financial District

Tradesman Coffee Shop and Lounge

Financial District, $$

Tradesman Coffee Shop and Lounge just recently opened in January 2019, but it has stepped up to the plate as a local favorite. With artfully prepared coffee drinks, signature cocktails out of this world, and quick bites and sandwiches to keep you going all day long, it’s already making a name for itself.

There’s one heckuva pastry batch to choose from, or go for the caprese sandwich for a refreshing pick-me-up. One of the more colorful croissants is the one with Fruity Pebbles baked into it that also comes with a creamy, but not overly sweet filling. I preferred the Boston creme flavor accompanied with a mint chocolate latte.


These dessert croissants are notably more expensive than regular croissants.

Best Cafe in Watertown

Intelligentsia Coffee

Watertown, $$

It’s a Chicago-based concept, but this Intelligentsia outpost is one of the best cafes in Watertown. The coffee is roasted to perfection, and plenty of folks swear by it. The cafe takes to a whole new level when you consider the minimalist, modern setting that’s inviting and familiar and comfortable all at the same time.

A number of teas and specialty coffees are available, and expect some seasonal surprises along the way. Intelligentsia is the smart choice in Watertown.


At $4 for a cup of drip coffee, this place isn’t for everyone. As far as baked goods go, I’d brave the lines at Sofra across the street.

Best Cafe in Brighton

Kohi Coffee Company

Brighton, $

Locally owned and operated since 2014, Kohi Coffee Company is our pick for Allston’s best. The minimalist, modern decor of its four locations (Provincetown, Boston, Brighton, and the Cafe at Spindler’s) is a nice touch.

Kohi also closely coordinates its brews with Tandem Coffee Roasters to offer fair trade, organic, and single-origin coffees along with espresso creations. Sweet treats and other snacks accent your hot and cold drink delights at Kohi Coffee Company perfectly.


Try the NOLA latte, made with chicory coffee beans. They have scones, muffins, and banana bread, but not a whole lot else to eat.

Best Cafe in East Cambridge

Curio Coffee and Wine

Cambridge, $

Sometimes, setting can be everything—and it’s a big part of why we love Curio Coffee and Wine. What’s the big to-do? It has a pretty cool rustic countryside and antiques theme, and that stands in stark contrast to the ultramodern and chic decor of most hip cafes.

Limited seating (4-5 small tables) means that this place is almost always full on weekday mornings and weekends. More of a grab-and-go spot.

And that makes Curio Coffee and Wine all the more beloved to us; it’s comfortable, almost like taking a step back in time. Did we mention the waffles made to order? Did we mention … chocolate-filled waffles?


The coffee here is good, but the waffles are spectacular. A melted sugar crunch, soft airy center, and sugar pearls for added texture and sweetness. Try the ham and fig spread

Best Cafe in Medford

Tamper Cafe

Medford, $

Depending on which side of brunch you might fall, Tamper Cafe has you covered – coffee drinks and craft beer, alike. This Medford spot serves breakfast and lunch until 3pm – then ambitious Medford friends will have to head back home, or continue the party elsewhere!

Granola’s a basic breakfast for sure, but the house made granola here really is some of the best you can get. Other favorite comfort foods for brunch include the B.L.T., Salami + Eggs, or the Avocado Smash (avocado, feta and roasted pumpkin seeds on thick cut toast). Lunch-ier choices include a tuna melt and the Warm Quinoa Bowl.

Wine can be yours by the glass, and the craft beer we mentioned before is available just as readily as espresso and tea.


 Groups larger than 4 will have a hard time finding a spot. Free Wi-Fi. A bit of a wait, but the food is always good.

Best Cafe for Studying

Bloc 11 Cafe

Somerville, $

The atmosphere at Bloc 11 Cafe is unique (it’s in a former bank vault!), but aside from that, you can expect some excellent breakfast options like the bagel sandwiches with lox. Artful drink and snack presentation takes center stage here, and locally sourced ingredients create a number of delicious menu options.

The full menu includes breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and salads, but let’s focus on the drinks. Signature creations from the Liquid Lab menu include peanut butter mocha, caramel cider, caramel con panna, and mint mocha.


One of few cafes the in East Somerville that are great for working thanks to 3 hours of free Wi-Fi as well as coffee, food, and plenty of seats.

Best Cold Brew

Nine Bar Espresso

Somerville, $$

Simon’s Coffee Shop was such a hit that it deserved a spin-off, something that you don’t see too often in the restaurant and bar scene. That’s the story behind Nine Bar Espresso, and we’re here to preach the merits of the best cold brew available around here.

It’s a nitro cold brew on tap, and you can get it with sandwiches or conversation—suit yourself. The coffee is roasted locally by Gracenote Coffee Roasters, the teas are curated by Camellia Sinensis, and the pastries are baked and delivered daily by A&J King Artisan Bakers in nearby Salem.

Nine Bar Espresso is a community-minded hub and a great space to meet up for a casual coffee—if you’re lucky, snag a much-coveted seat at the window and rub it in with all the Starbucks-wielding passersby.


Try a flat white with oat milk, the almond croissant, and the blueberry muffins. Friendly baristas. No public bathroom.

Best Cafe in Brookline

4A Coffee

Brookline, $$

4A Coffee is a modest joint, with just a few seats for the regulars and perfectly crafted coffee drinks with no unnecessary frills attached. It’s come a long way—the concept was founded in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2005.

When you go “4 A” coffee, it’s a cherished experience. Small-batch roasting and the Slayer Espresso machine are secrets to 4A Coffee’s success, and you can grab a bag or two for home when you’re ready to head out.


If you can’t make it to 4A and need to plug in and get work done, a great alternative in Brookline is Allium Market and Cafe.

Best Vanilla Latte

Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Back Bay, $$

Tatte Bakery & Cafe has a charming rustic bistro decor and international roots—founder Tzurit Or is a self-trained pastry chef who grew up in Israel and now sets up shop here in Boston. Tatte was founded in 2007 and strives to connect individuals with food, passion, and culture.

Tatte has a number of locations around Boston, but the one in Back Bay is certainly one of the most iconic with its chic black and white accents. Just about every Tatte is going to be packed on weekends, so expect a line. If you need peace and quiet to get work done, try the Tatte locations in Cambridge.

Pastry, bread, and gluten free menus are available, as is a seasonal menu with highlights such as veggie croque madame, ham and fried egg tartine, and shakshuka. Drink-wise, it’s hard to go wrong here, but if you want to see Tatte at their best, they make terrific house lattes. Vanilla is my go-to, but try a few variations and see what you think.


If you’re feeling hungry, definitely get the Kouign-amman, shakshuka, avocado tartine, and croissants (chocolate, almond, and pistachio are all excellent).

Best Cafe in Dorchester

Flat Black Coffee Company

Dorchester, $$

Single-origin coffee—micro roasted and served up with perfection—is what keeps locals and visitors coming back to Flat Black Coffee Company, the best coffee shop in Dorchester.

It opened in 2003 in the Lower Mills neighborhood, and the name is a salute to Australians around the world and their noted passion for coffee. Flat Black’s espresso is award-winning, and wholesale roasts are available online and at a number of local participating vendors—meaning you’re not limited to a Dorchester visit if you’d like to see what the buzz is about.


Their drip coffee is unremarkable, but they do great chai lattes and Japanese cold brews. No restroom here.

Best Hazelnut Latte

Thinking Cup

North End, $$

It’s not uncommon for a cafe or coffee shop to tout using the finest ingredients, but Thinking Cup goes above and beyond. It’s the first in Downtown Boston to serve Stumptown Coffee, born in Portland and christened the best coffee in the world by National Public Radio.

Since December 2010, Thinking Cup has been serving decadent pastries, hot drinks, and—yes—the best hazelnut latte in the greater Boston area. Don’t believe us? Stop in for yourself to see what all the fuss is about.

Other items on the menu you’ll want to try are the lemon poppy seed scones, cinnamon rolls, and their breakfast sandwiches.


Limited seating, but tables free up quickly as most people don’t stick around too long. No free Wi-Fi helps with that.

Best Mocha Latte

L.A. Burdick

Cambridge, $$

What is it about the mocha latte that captures our hearts? Is it the warmth, balanced with chocolate tones and sweet accents? The caffeine that gets us going? Whatever it is, L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates balances everything perfectly to offer the best mocha latte we’ve had yet.

It makes sense—the chocolatier has been making handmade delights since 1987, with locations here in town, Chicago, New York, and New Hampshire. Just like the mocha latte, it’s a perfect balance that we love every time.

L.A. Burdick rotates the type of cocoa they use for their special hot chocolate on a regular basis, definitely try them all (my favorite so far is the Colombian variety).

If you’re not craving caffeine, L.A. Burdick’s velvety rich hot chocolates are our Achilles’ heel.


The hot chocolate is rich, so get the small size if it’s your first time coming here. Limited seating and no free Wi-Fi.

Best Cafe in Somerville

Diesel Cafe

Somerville, $$

Coffee and billiards? You bet. That’s just part of what makes Diesel Cafe stand out as the best cafe in Somerville. Order online for pickup, delivery, or catering if you can’t commit to hanging out for a bit, but you’ll thank yourself if you can—it’s a totally cool, hip spot that really has to be experienced firsthand.

It may not be obvious from the outside, but there’s a lot of space in this cafe. Even with plentiful seating, Diesel Cafe is consistently packed on the weekends and you may have to be opportunistic to grab a good spot.

The coffee is a dark roast from Intelligentsia, so you know the quality is there. Prices are pretty close to what you’d pay at Starbucks, however.

Since 1999, Diesel Cafe has offered a great menu of nonalcoholic drinks like the Raspberry Lime Ricky and the salted caramel latte to accompany sandwiches and breakfast stuff like house-made overnight oats. When your tank is running low, make a pit stop at Diesel to get your motor running right!


The Wi-Fi used to not be free, but they seem to have addressed this so that there’s now free, if somewhat slow, internet throughout the premises. Skip the bathroom here though, it gets overused unfortunately.