The Best Coffee Shops and Coffeehouses In Cambridge, MA

NOCA Provisions has quickly become a neighborhood favorite
NOCA Provisions has quickly become a neighborhood favorite | © NOCA Provisions
Harry Gustafson

Like any trendy city, Cambridge prides itself on having a strong assortment of coffee shops, cafés, and coffeehouses. With a large population of students, researchers, and tech experts, it’s important that the city has plenty of places to get coffee, tea, and pastries. The best coffeehouses in Cambridge represent a mix of hip, cozy places, usually with food options as good as the beverages.

1. 1369 Coffee House

Bakery, Coffee Shop, Pastries

cambridge coffee shops
© 1369 Coffee

Both the Central Square and Inman Square locations of 1369 Coffee House offer a laid-back atmosphere alongside their delicious coffee brews. The coffee has a rich, warm taste that matches perfectly with their selection of baked goods, including brownies, blondies, and fruit jam bars. Most of their tables only offer seating for two people, so you may want to consider getting your espressos to go if you come with a large group. On the other hand, this makes 1369 an ideal place for a dedicated student to sit and get some work done.

2. Bourbon Coffee

Cafe, Tea

This cute Porter Square coffee shop always seems to have a creative special on the menu that combines intriguing ingredients. This includes past items such as the Purple Rain, a lavender-infused tea inspired by Prince. The place is clean, the staff is friendly, and there’s always a seat available. It’s a popular spot for Lesley University students looking for a quiet spot to study and work. Bourbon is a chain that started in Rwanda and has since expanded to Boston and Washington, D.C.

3. Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Bakery, Coffee Shop, French

Tatte Bakery and Cafe
© Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Though it’s on the pricier side for a café, Tatte still draws in a lot of customers with its delicious food, rich coffee, and sleek design. The interior has an all-white tile finish, giving it the look of an authentic European café. The prices for food are worth it because the servings are hearty and filling. It gets busy, so while it’s not always the best place to sit down for some work, you can’t go wrong grabbing a coffee to go from one of their three Cambridge locations and setting off on a walk around the neighborhood.

4. Cafe Zing

Cafe, Pastries

This small café is located inside Porter Square Books, one of Cambridge’s most popular bookstores. What’s not to love about a spot that lets you pick up something new to read while you sip on freshly brewed coffee or chai? While the coffee is good, the real treat here is the ginger lemonade, which adds a nice kick to the classic sweetness of lemonade. Grab a window seat so you can read or just watch locals go about their shopping.

5. Cafe Luna

Restaurant, Cafe, Belgian, French

Cafe Luna Waffles
© Cafe Luna

Located in Cambridgeport near the campus of MIT, this restaurant is the best place to get French coffee and pastries in Cambridge. Not only is the coffee great, but they have a strong brunch menu that includes Bloody Marys, ricotta pancakes, and more. The interior has a sleek, modern design that attracts local students and the city’s tech crowd. Their dishes with corned beef hash rank as some of the most popular items on the menu. In the past few years, they’ve moved to a new location to accommodate the larger groups they tend to draw.

6. Atomic Bean Cafe

Cafe, American

Atomic Bean Café, or ABC, is a must-stop for anyone stuck between Harvard and Central Squares in need of a quick caffeine pick-me-up. In addition to coffee, they also serve delicious pastries, including scones and Jamaican beef patties. Their sandwiches come large, packed with goodies and stuffed between house-baked bread that has a cake-like texture. Though you might go in looking to get a coffee and sandwich, you might be tempted instead by their fruit smoothies and pistachio muffins.

7. NOCA Provisions

Coffee Shop, American, Coffee

NOCA Provisions
© NOCA Provisions

NoCa is named for its location in North Cambridge, nestled in a cozy residential neighborhood. Though it is a recent addition to the neighborhood, and about a 15-minute walk from the nearest train station, it has quickly become a local favorite. The minimal, open design of the inside combined with the quiet surrounding neighborhood make this the perfect place to study or simply relax. With some of the best coffee around, their wide selection of avocado toast feels like an added bonus. In the evening, NoCa offers dinner, as well as a beer and wine bar.

8. Simon's Coffee Shop

Coffee Shop, Vegetarian, Soup, Pastries

Located on Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter Square, this café’s location ensures it’s never too busy, though the crowd picks up on weekends. This makes it a great place to study (though the Wi-Fi is not free) and people-watch, if you snag a window seat. The espresso is great, they sell day-old pastries for a discount, and they have a good selection of vegan and gluten-free snacks. For coffee, they use a rotation of local roasters like Barismo. Simon’s smaller size gives it a cozy feel.

9. Curio Coffee

Coffee Shop, American

cambridge coffee shops
© Curio Coffee / Justin Pronovost

Great coffee, friendly baristas, waffles served through lunch. What more could you ask from a neighborhood coffee shop? Curio checks all these boxes and then some. Tucked in East Cambridge, customers love the sweet, crispy Belgian waffles, which come in a variety of flavors, including orange, cardamom and Earl Grey. Curio attracts neighborhood residents as well as caffeine enthusiasts who will go out of their way for that perfect cup o’ joe.

10. Darwin's Ltd.

Cafe, Coffee Shop, American

With three locations throughout Cambridge, Darwin’s is popular with residents from every corner of the city. Most of their sandwiches are named after local streets and places, such as the Landsdowne, the Quincy, and the Brattle. It gets packed around lunchtime, so it’s best to stop by earlier for a breakfast sandwich. A few sips from their nitro cold brew will keep even the biggest caffeine enthusiasts energized all day.

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