Arts & Entertainment, Features

FreeP vs. Food: Coffee Crawl

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Due to the whirlwind nature of college, sleepy students often resort to the nearest coffee locale to keep their eyelids a little less droopy. More often than not, this ends up being a dining points-friendly chain or a nearby, incredibly crowded and hectic shop.

But what about the rest of the city’s coffee shops? When you’ve got more than an hour to spare, it might be worth it to make the trip to that one place Jimmy mentioned last weekend or to the location of your friend’s most Instagram-able latte.

With that in mind, we woke up bright and early one Saturday morning with the mission to scope out four vaguely familiar, highly Yelp-rated joints. This is FreeP versus Food: Coffee Crawl. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”110587″ img_size=”full” title=”Refuge Cafe (Allston): Medium Roast, Black”][vc_column_text]Refuge Cafe (Allston): Medium Roast, Black Picture a neighborly joint with brown-spotted bananas, piping hot coffee and giant windows for watching sidewalk acquaintances slip past your laptop. Yes, setting and location-wise, Refuge Cafe is an Allston staple. That said, the Equal Exchange medium roast makes for a reliable morning cup. Nutty and semi-full, this coffee is surprisingly mellow compared to its color and Refuge’s punk-centric playlists. Our one complaint was the sour aftertaste, which proved to be no issue until the cup began cooling off. At least the baristas served it at mouth-burning temperature. Our suggestion? Come for the needed caffeine. Stay for the atmosphere.

Coffee Sips:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”110579″ img_size=”full” title=”Render Coffee (South End): Caffe Americano”][vc_column_text]Render Coffee (South End): Caffe Americano Bop and local art: what better indicators do you need of a quality coffee shop? A man in a Eagles hoodie plays a Nintendo DS in the corner under a canvas of the Green Line. For the Americano, they write ‘USA’ on the cup, which is cute, but it should be noted that we sat outside for lack of inside seating. Such is the curse of the quaint but popular joint. The back deck must be sublime in the fall, though. The coffee, for its part, is an enigma, the mystery being why it doesn’t taste like anything.

Coffee Sips:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”110552″ img_size=”full” title=” Caffé Vittoria (North End): Assorted Espresso Drinks”][vc_column_text]Caffé Vittoria (North End): Assorted Espresso Drinks The espresso is as rich as the culture, but make sure you’re ready for both before walking in. Don’t get us wrong. Caffé Vittoria is exactly what belongs on Hanover Street, continuing the North End’s tradition of cash-only cuisine. However, it may not belong on the average student’s “coffice space” list. The antique decor of golden chairs and family portraits too prominent to avoid eye contact with is somewhat authentic to the point of guiltiness. Should I be more Italian? When was the last time I called my grandmother? And why am I on my fourth cup of coffee this morning? Matching these concerns, the latte, americano and macchiato felt heavy after drinking. Do yourself the favor of visiting Caffé Vittoria with a loved one and without several cups of coffee already in your stomach.

Coffee Sips:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”110555″ img_size=”full” title=”Equal Exchange Café (North End): Medium Roast, Au Lait”][vc_column_text]Equal Exchange Café (North End): Medium Roast, Au Lait With teal ferns and mountain contours paneling the walls of this snug shop across from TD Garden, Equal Exchange Café really plays up its titular shtick. Make no mistake, though: capitalism thrives in the form of many a t-shirt, teapot and fair trade chocolate bar. It’s cozy, though the “bro-coustic” Mrazian soundtrack makes work a little tough. The metal chairs don’t help either. At best, the shop offers a good respite in what’s increasingly becoming a busier part of the city, and the foamy and comforting cafe au lait works hard at that. Also, North Station is a hike. This could be your go-to if it weren’t for the going-to.

Coffee Sips:


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It turns out these places are “vaguely” familiar for good reason. While Refuge and Caffé Vittoria may be worth visiting a second time for just the ambience and hearty drinks, respectively, the same cannot quite be said about Render and Equal Exchange. This isn’t to say that these two are lost causes. Statistically speaking, we only visited once, and the underwhelming taste or mechanical feel could’ve been due to a case of bad luck or occasional weird vibes.
For a student looking for a simultaneously hip and calm place to get some work done, Refuge might be the best bet. But if you can’t make the trek to Allston, your loyal study room and venti-sized pal will always be there for you. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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