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Coffee Beantown

As any coffee-lover can tell you, the quest for the perfect coffee shop is one of the most treacherous and exciting adventures on which a person can embark. Dodging stale pastries and burnt coffee can take quite a toll on one’s coffee-loving soul. Yet, I would argue that getting to know the lay of the land of milk and coffee beans is a well-worth goal.
 
After almost four years of living in Boston, I myself am still looking for the perfect coffee shop, though many have come close to winning that award. Nevertheless, I am pleased to share my thoughts with you on the places to get your caffeine fixe in the BU vicinity, as well as some excellent places that you must see before you die… or at least before you graduate. I have rated each coffee shop on its atmosphere, coffee quality, customer service, price, and food.
 
Espresso Royale Caffe at 736 Commonwealth AveBoston, MA 02215
This coffee shop is the quintessential café for the Boston University “But I’m not a hipster”-hipster. Serving both dark and medium roasts, bagels and sandwiches, pastries, and an assortment of espresso drinks, ERC, as it’s fondly called, offers an impressive variety of food and beverages. While many people like to study here, it’s definitely not the place for people who need quiet to think. My favorite drink here is their Spanish Latte, made with espresso and sweetened condensed milk. I used to be a big fan of their egg sandwich bagels. However, is it just me or did they recently start putting half an egg on these egg sandwiches? Note to ERC, eggs are one of the least expensive food items, so please don’t skimp.
 
Atmosphere: 2/5
Coffee Quality: 3/5
Customer Service: 2/5
Price: 3/5
Food: 3/5

 
Blue State Coffee at 957 Commonwealth AveBoston, MA 02215
The people at Blue State Coffee really understand what the student population wants. They have a beautifully minimalist space that looks unlike any other coffee shop I’ve ever been to. The room goes further back and is narrow, but this odd shape just adds to its charm. One of the best parts about this café is the fact that it donates a percentage of its profits to charity, and, even better, the customer can vote for a particular charity by placing a wooden chip in a glass canister. The music here is quite enjoyable, without being too loud. I can study here and also have a conversation without being stared at too much.  In terms of the drinks, their coffee is pretty much perfection. The food is fantastic, but ridiculously overpriced. $3.25 for a single tiny pancake… really Blue State? Finally, I was pretty impressed by the customer service here. Everyone who works here, except for the guy who appears to be the manager is extremely friendly.
 

Atmosphere: 5/5
Coffee Quality: 3/5
Customer Service: 4/5
Price: 2/5
Food: 5/5
 

Crema Café at 7 Brattle St.Cambridge, MA 02138
Crema Café in Cambridge is a must-see for any Boston University student. However, please be aware that they only accept cash and do not have Wi-Fi. Despite these two obvious flaws, Crema has tons of delicious flavored espresso drinks and amazing food. I had a piece of quiche and it had an amazing combination of flavors. Crema Café also offers chocolate truffles, macaroons, and a variety of sandwiches.
 
Atmosphere: 4/5 (a point off here for lack of Wi-Fi)
Coffee Quality: 4/5
Customer Service: 4/5
Price: 2/5 (a little overpriced and no debit or credit accepted)
Food: 5/5

 
Ula Café at 284 Amory St. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Ula Café is by far my favorite coffee shop in Boston, though, alas it is one of the furthest away from BU. To get there, you need to take the Orange Line to the Stony Brook stop. The café has a wonderful atmosphere with people of all ages. Its walls feature old brick and beautiful artwork. The coffee, espresso drinks, and food are all superb. The downside are its prices. Some of the sandwiches are over $8, even before tax. However, I love going there for a coffee or latte and a little something sweet from their baked goods section.
 
Atmosphere: 5/5
Coffee Quality: 5/5
Customer Service: 4/5
Price: 2/5
Food: 5/5

 
Tatte Fine Cookies and Cakes at 1003 Beacon St. Brookline, MA 02446
Though technically located in Brookline, Tatte is steps away from BU’s South Campus. This coffee shop serves the European brand, Illy, coffee and espresso. It consists of one tiny room, but is the kind of place that if you manage to grab a seat you’ll never want to leave. The walls are adorned with refurbished chalkboards, and the pastries themselves are arranged so artfully that the first time I went I wasn’t even sure they were for sale. The place caters to a wide range of ages and is quiet enough to study. My favorite pastry is their Chocolate Rose. it, has dough swirled around chocolate in the shape of a cross between a cinnamon bun and, yes, a flower. While their espresso drinks and sandwiches are quite expensive, a lot of their best pastries are $4 or less. The only downside that I can think of is that this is not a place for people with nut allergies. Most of their pastries contain nuts in some form.
 
Atmosphere: 5/5
Coffee Quality: 5/5
Customer Service: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Food: 5/5
 

So for me, the winner is Tatte. Each coffee shop, however, has its strengths and weaknesses. I go to Espresso Royale for their Spanish Latte. You can find me at Blue State Coffee for their scones or when I feel like coffee past 8 pm. I frequent Crema when I get the chance to go to Cambridge or am in the mood for some quiche. Ula Café is my place to go when I’m able to make it out to Jamaica Plain. Finally, Tatte has become my place to be, and, luckily I live only a block away.
 
As for my fellow coffee lovers, take this list as a starting point and explore yourself. If you have Twitter, let me know by tweeting @cohalls to tell me what your favorite places are.

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