When I leave Boston after 2 years, one of the few things I will miss about the place is the access to incredible coffee shops. I showed up at the Tufts camp only 2-3 days of the week and my office rarer still because it was incredibly inconvenient to get there. The rest I spent lounging in coffee shops. I have no friends at work and few friends outside of it. My work, or lack thereof, doesn’t require me to actually be at a desk. Somerville is extremely hipster; a by-product of the recent gentrification in this area. The cafes often have a rotating display of art by local artisans and craftsmen. I frequently see artists drawing or doing graphic design. Some of the criteria that I use to decide on a coffee place - ease of finding a seat, WiFi, access to charging points, quality of coffee/food, cleanliness of bathrooms. I don’t mind the background noise here and I enjoy watching people and it doesn’t distract me. I have spent many productive and unproductive hours here. None of these cafes actually have free WiFi but here’s a neat trick: If you have an xfinity connection, you can use it to login anywhere into the `xfinitywifi’ network and what's more, they seem to be all over Boston. For a purportedly evil conglomerate bent on destroying net neutrality and outrageous customer service, this is a pretty good feature. Because the people who work here are hipster, the music they play here feels like it has been taken from my Spotify playlists. So even the days I forget to bring a pair of earphones with me, it is not so bad. To get a sense of what I mean by a cool indie coffee place, here is an explanation from Louis C.K
. Here are some of the places I really liked. Davis Square
: Conveniently accessible by the red line T, there are three coffee shops here in close proximity - Diesel, Iyo and Starbucks. There are also good options for food around: Amsterdam Falafel shop, Snappy Sushi, etc. This is one of the larger Starbucks and except for the quality of coffee and food is a good place to work from. The other two coffee shops are hipster and therefore, quite pricey. Iyo has good coffee and good FroYo. They have special deal for FroYo, on a day cooler than 32 F, they give (32-T) % discount; so if it is outside 0F you get 32% off. They also have a 2 hour free WiFi coupon which you can get upon purchase. Diesel is my favorite coffee shop here. They have good coffee, soups, and pastries and I always manage to find a seat here even when it is really busy. It is also open late and has pool tables. Diesel is the main theme of the cafe, they have a motorcycle hoisted at the entrance, an ancient petrol pump, and writings on the wall with the history of Rudolph Diesel and the Diesel Engine (talk about gentrification). Union Square
: This is my favorite weekend haunt. There are two coffee shops here: Bloc 11 and Fortissimo. I discovered Bloc 11 by accident. I actually came to this area to go to Cafe Tango, which turned out to be a salsa dancing studio. Bloc 11 was conveniently opposite it and has now become my favorite shop here. It also happens to be close to Market Basket, my favorite grocery store here, and an Indian store. The other reason I enjoy this place enormously is that it is close to a really good comic book store, where inevitably I end up buying a good book or two. Bloc 11 has the same owners as Diesel, which I discovered because they had the same food and rotating cast of hipster waiters. It also has really good outdoor seating which is inactive for a big part of the year because of the cold weather. But in the summer, it is easy to get a table. A lesser known place is Fortissimo, which was run by Brazillians. The coffee is good, food okay, but it is very convenient in the winter months when Bloc 11 is overflowing. Bloc 11 used to be an old bank, you can actually eat inside the vault (talk about gentrification). There are a few good places to eat around here: Buk Kyung (Korean), Machu Picchu (Peruvian), Neighborhood restaurant (Portuguese), Dosa and Curry (South Indian). In summers, they also have their farmer’s market here. I really wish I lived near Union square; but maybe if I did, then the attraction of this place might wane. Ball Square
: For a place that is inconvenient by public transit, it has four breakfast places in close proximity that are packed and overflowing on weekends. For me it is convenient because I live quite close by and it is also nearby Tufts and my meetings. I frequent True grounds, where I always find a good seat. It is also along my bus route, so whenever I miss the bus, I spend a couple of hours in the morning here. I became friends with Christoph Borgers
, who tells amusing stories and also treats this cafe like his office. I frequently tell my friends that almost no two things in the store are identical - the mugs, tables and chairs are all different maybe through long term accumulation from goodwill. Somehow it makes this place extremely cosy and cool. Some tables have an inbuilt chess board and there are also board games and some books. I also found Raymond Carver’s short story collection. They also have the cleanest bathrooms. Lyndell’s bakery is also nice, as is Pescatore restaurant (Italian).
Notable mentions in nearby areas: Tamper and Danish Pastry house (Medford), Bourbon coffee (Porter), Tealuxe, Cafe Crema (Harvard Square, although it is very touristy), Flour (Kendall, near MIT).