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Boston's best: Coffee shops

Though it may have been christened “Beantown” because of the baked variety, it seems that Boston can’t get enough of its coffee beans, either. Like any other major city with a fair share of wind-chilled, under-slept professionals, the area boasts a plethora of cafes that value high-quality brews, extensive tea collections, cozy atmospheres, and (on occasion) pool tables. Get up, get out and get caffeinated.

Andala
Café
Andala is a Central Square gem along River Street, just off from well-tread establishments like 1369 and C3. Homey and shockingly deserted, this Middle Eastern spot represents what Algiers Cafe might look like if it wasn't in the middle of overcrowded Harvard Square. Head downstairs, snag a cozy pillow-seat and ask for the tea selection: they'll trot out a briefcase with more than 30 aromatic choices, ranging from Moroccan mint to the cardamom-tinged house tea. In the warmer months, grab a seat along the sidewalk and watch the world go by—you can even order a hookah if you feel so moved. You can't beat the ambiance; just don't tell too many friends about it. 286 Franklin St, Central Square, Cambridge (617-945-2212, andalacafe.com)

barismo
You're not a true aficionado until you've visited barismo. It's a stand-up place, quite literally. No seats, no tables—just fresh coffee, brewed one cup at a time. This type of European-style coffee bar is all the rage in New York, but this is the only seat-less spot in our neck of the woods. The engaging baristas are experts at their craft and always eager to talk shop. Some might reasonably describe them as “coffee snobs,” so if you can't tell the difference between a latte and a macchiato, we recommend you don't ask too many questions. 169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington (339-368-7300, barismo.com)

PS Gourmet Coffee
Screw “venti” and “tall.” PS Gourmet has two sizes—small, and “the bucket.” This charmingly unpretentious South Boston haunt has tasty iced coffee selections featuring flavor infusions like Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Caramel Kiss. The popular P.S. Special is a cinnamon-dusted hazelnut mocha. It's family-run, but don't say “indie” around this townie crowd. Even as its reputation has grown, PS Gourmet has still maintained a neighborhood feel (and a sense of humor). Make sure you hit up an ATM before you head over—this place is cash only. 106 Dorchester St, South Boston (617-269-4020)

Voltage Coffee & Art
Blame it on the alcohol: owner Lucy Valena started a mobile espresso bar back in 2008 thanks to a loan from the Sam Adams Brewery. Her venture has since morphed into a brick-and-mortar shop that doubles as an art gallery. (Exhibitions generally run for six weeks at a time.) The flavored lattes include enticing options like lime peel and agave or molasses and lemon zest. With white walls sporadically splattered in bright blues and pinks, Voltage looks colorfully modern, like an Apple store that fell into a fireworks display. Try out the “Atticus Finch”—you won’t be disappointed. 295 3rd St, Kendall Square, Cambridge (617-714-3974, voltagecoffee.com)

Equal Exchange Café
You can't get more crunchy-granola conscientious than this organic, fair-trade North End café. Expect a label denoting place of origin for almost every menu item, including the coffee beans, which come from as far as Nicaragua and Uganda. The food is entirely local, with sandwiches from the Biscuit, baked goods from Petsi Pies and bagels from Iggy's. The spicy hot chocolate has a kick to it, while the cappuccinos deliver with deliciously malty undertones. Equal Exchange also serves surprisingly tasty tofu spring rolls. 226 Causeway St, North End, Boston (617-372-8777, equalexchangecafe.com)

Trident Booksellers & Café
In a sea of Starbucks-ified Borders chains, Trident remains a tried-and-true standby for the more indie-minded caffeine-addled literary nerds out there. The magazine selection is peerless—art 'zines, obscure trade publications, and is that a Spanish edition of Foreign Affairs? Boston has plenty of spots that brew a better cup of joe, and Trident does get a tad too packed on weekends, but there's still something about lounging with a latte and a Lethem novel that makes us feel so flippin' smart. 338 Newbury St, Back Bay, Boston (617-267-8688, tridentbookscafe.com)

Diesel Café
Any Somerville sipper worth their salt has stopped by this Davis Square destination. What other café can lay claim to a pool table, a black-and-white photo booth and a highly entertaining people-watching scene of Tuftsies and twentysomethings? It makes you forget that there’s even a Starbucks across the street. The spot is aggressively green, with cups made from corn syrup and no garbage cans (they compost), which means that your morning cup has a negligible carbon footprint. For a smaller-scale version of the same great product, hit up Union Square's Bloc 11, the owners' other joe-serving establishment. 257 Elm St, Davis Square, Somerville (617-629-8717, diesel-cafe.com)

Ula Café
Remember when coffeeshops were places to converse rather than simply plug in and tune out with a laptop? Ula's relaxed atmosphere helps maintain that “cafe as public sphere” ethos. The staff occasionally shuts down its free Wi-Fi during peak hours, ensuring that the shop isn't constantly overrun by YouTube-surfing hipsters. The coffees are diverse and delicious—try the Café Cubano with cinnamon and brown sugar—and the sweet potato sandwich can't be beat. 284 Amory St, Jamaica Plain (617-524-7890, ulacafe.com)

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Simon's coffeehouse on Mass Ave in Porter Square makes the best cappuccino.
By CoffeeKemist (not verified) on 9/18/2013 at 11:50 pm
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By Demaemiainxuqrk (not verified) on 6/14/2013 at 11:52 pm
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By Demaemiainxuqrk (not verified) on 6/14/2013 at 11:51 pm
Pavement Coffeehouse. Hands down best as voted by me, an Australian from Los Angeles who often comes to Boston. So Aussie peeps this one's for you. Try their Cortado. It's like a strong flat white. Yeah! I'm off to get one right now :)
By Mel loves Coffeeeee (not verified) on 6/09/2013 at 10:19 am
4A Coffee. In Brookline. On Harvard street is a best coffee I ever tried. It is not acidy as in some other places and it is always fresh. If you come there you'll love it.
By Alex (not verified) on 1/26/2013 at 11:41 pm
I know everyone's so down on that chain with the green mermaid, but so many of the shops on this list demonstrate why the S word is what it is. Diesel and Trident especially. Both GREAT local hangouts, great pastry and food. God awful coffee. I dare you to take them up on a refill without spending the afternoon in their hipster john.
By heather (not verified) on 1/06/2013 at 6:44 pm
I know everyone's so down on that chain with the green mermaid, but so many of the shops on this list demonstrate why the S word is what it is. Diesel and Trident especially. Both GREAT local hangouts, great pastry and food. God awful coffee. I dare you to take them up on a refill without spending the afternoon in their hipster-decorated john.
By heather (not verified) on 1/06/2013 at 6:43 pm
I know everyone's so down on that chain with the green mermaid, but so many of the shops on this list demonstrate why the S word is what it is. Diesel and Trident especially. Both GREAT local hangouts, great pastry and food. God awful coffee. I dare you to take them up on a refill without spending the afternoon in their hipster-decorated john.
By heather (not verified) on 1/06/2013 at 6:43 pm
How about a cafe that can actually make lattes? No where in Boston seems to know how to make them.
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By Badoo Sexy (not verified) on 4/03/2012 at 11:10 am
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