Our hours of operation are 7am–4pm Monday through Friday and 8am–4pm both Saturdays and Sundays.
For the time being, only at our Cambridge shop! We will roll out an online store for retail bags of roasted coffee (and more) within a couple of months of opening after we feel that our cafe and operations are running smoothly enough to permit us to do online business.
Yes! We have free, unlimited wifi (subject to the vagaries of our internet provider). We also have customer outlets near many, but not all of our seats. We welcome everyone, but we do ask, however, that you are considerate of other customers in not taking up too much room or overstaying a reasonable welcome if things are extremely busy.
Yes! We are very proud of the innovative menu created by Darine Hazboun, our head chef and baker. We will serve from-scratch baked goods, breakfast, brunch (on the weekends) and lunch inspired by both classical and Mediterranean cuisines. We are also very proud of the ingredients that we are sourcing for the menu. The provenance of our food is as important to us as the provenance of our coffees and teas.
Yes! Be sure to let us know if you have any food allergies, intolerances or ingredients you wish to avoid. Please note that most (but not all) of our breads contain dairy (we also have a sign in the shop reminding you of this) so please let us know if dairy is one of things you don’t want in your food or beverages.
Yes! We’re all about both changing our menu (both food and drink) and offering creative specials as what is fresh out there changes. We’ll try to get the word out on these specials via social media.
Indeed we do! Many of us are or were (and still are) home baristas and collectively, we’ve either owned or tried a lot of what is out there. We have strong opinions about home equipment and would be delighted to share those opinions as well as talk coffee—just ask!
Glad you asked! Yes, we will be doing all three of these. We’ll be putting details and a schedule out on social media in due course.
Please send an email letting us know what you’d like to be doing along with your resume to [email protected]
Coffee, Tea & Roasting
Coffee is seasonal and green (unroasted) coffee stales relatively quickly. Thus, to keep our coffee fresh, we buy raw coffee in small quantities from different countries at different times of the year, chasing the fresh crop around the globe (we might offer coffees from Colombia in the spring, Ethiopia in the summer, Burundi in the winter and so on). Rotating our offerings based on what is fresh is also one of our great joys as coffees from different countries are amazing in different ways.
We work with a limited number of small green coffee importers that we feel have the most rigorous standards of quality, ethics, environmental and social practices, due diligence and transparency throughout their supply chain. They are also the ones patient enough to answer our many questions and with enough “hiking boots on the ground” to provide sufficient detail. From the wide universe of in-season coffees they offer, we focus on their best, and spend a huge amount of time and effort “cupping” (evaluating) their green coffees to select the ones we feel are the most delicious and distinctive. We are constantly cupping new coffees.
We take our teas as seriously as we do our coffees. We are working with Song Tea & Ceramics out of San Francisco for all of our caffeinated teas. We feel they offer some of the most exquisite teas available in the United States. We commissioned Curio Spice Co. — based here in Cambridge and also a Public Benefit Company—to custom blend our chais with the freshest, most vibrant spices. Our herbal teas all come from MEM Tea, another great local company. Some of the herbs are even grown locally by the founder of MEM.
Another great question. No, not all of our coffees will be certified, but some might be. Certification is an extremely contentious and tricky subject when it comes to coffee. Different certifications cover different aspects of the supply chain, with varying standards of rigor and verification. Certification is particularly tricky when it comes to coffee, which is generally grown in remote areas in developing nations where there are a limited number of independent auditors; and because there are so many steps involved in turning a fruit seed into dried, raw but ready-to-roast coffee and because the supply chain is so long and complicated. Moreover, the jury is still out in terms of whether coffee certification actually leads to improved livelihoods for producers and improvements to ecology and the sustainability of the supply chain. And certification certainly does not equal quality (there is a lot of mediocre certified coffee out there).
To be frank, we view certification (when it comes to coffee) as a short-cut that we don’t need to take. We believe that a core part of our job is to provide customers with a much higher level of transparency and traceability than any certification could ever provide. We do this by working only with importers we have vetted and trust, by continually asking rigorous questions of them, understanding their protocols, and those of the farmers, milling stations and exporters with whom they work. We also pay dramatically more than fair trade prices for ALL of the coffee we purchase (our coffees are some of the most highly scored and priciest coffees out there) from the set of coffees that fit our criteria with respect to the chain of trust we’ve established.
This is a loaded question. First, taste is a matter of personal preference and we totally respect that. We don’t like to label coffee or given roast styles or modes of preparation “good” or bad. And when we talk about quality we mean a couple of specific and objective things. First, we mean coffee free of defects. Coffee is an agricultural product grown and processed primarily in developing nations, often in remote areas with challenging climates, and always transported long distances. When people think of unroasted coffee, they often imagine it to be similar to grains of rice, all perfectly uniform and beautiful. Sadly, this is rarely the case and the number and type of defects in most bags of green, unroasted coffee is… surprising. In our context, quality coffee is a rare and precious thing as it contains an extremely limited number of defects that the producers, mills and exporters have had to work exceptionally hard to minimize and that we all have laboriously counted and categorized. If your coffee shop is selling coffee that was purchased green at only a bit more than what the CME Coffee futures trade for, they would fail our first hurdle. Second, we mean coffee that has been objectively scored very highly using a protocol laid out by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association). Coffees that meet this criteria will exhibit great sweetness, balance, body, clarity of flavors, and often have both fruit-like and floral (in the fragrance) characteristics. These coffees should be fresh, need to be stored properly and we feel should be consumed no later than three weeks post-roast. When it comes to roasting, there are certain technical criteria that need to be satisfied for a roast to be considered “good” (and we haven’t found many large batch roasters that hit these technical benchmarks) but again, there are many valid styles out there. Finally, there is the question of supply chain integrity and transparency which is covered above.
We have a lot of respect for the many wholesale coffee roasters out there as well as the specialty coffee shops that do a great job making great beverages and providing amazing customer service. But we love the idea of being vertically integrated and controlling every aspect of our beverage program. We’d liken it a bit to the way some of our favorite independent sushi restaurants work: they have relationships with specific fishermen or go to the fish market everyday to select the best seasonal ingredients; by curating these ingredients to match their tastes and having full control over preparation, they can be creative and express their style with a freedom not otherwise possible. And they can quickly reflect the preferences of their customers back into their processes.
Coffees can taste very different from one another, even coffees from the same growing region and even when processed similarly. Curating coffee origins and flavor profiles is core to our jobs. As is roasting as the same coffee roasted ten different ways can taste radically different in each of those ten ways. Basically, we love coffee and roasting way too much not to do it all ourselves.
We first sample roast all coffees and cup (evaluate) them to try to pinpoint what we feel is special about them. The game plan varies for each coffee, but as a basic strategy, we try to accentuate the positives and minimize the negatives through our roasts. Roasting has an enormous impact on how coffees taste, smell and feel (mouthfeel, that is!) through development or reduction of sugars, fruit acids, bittering compounds and flavor compounds formed via Maillard reactions, caramelization and the like. We love clean, sweet and balanced coffees with great transparency—that is, well defined flavors (whether they be fruit, chocolate, caramel or the like) and want these intrinsic flavors to shine through, so we’re never going to be heavy-handed in our roasts.
Check out our coffee info page for all the details!