Yesterday, it was 100 degrees in West Hollywood. I went to the beach. It was divine. The end. Just kidding. The rest of the story is that today’s post was written by my friend Kimberly Zimmer, who just the other day (convenient for me!) took it upon herself to send me a review of the Boston coffee shop The Thinking Cup Coffee Bar and Patisserie.
Kimberly, it’s like you used your psychic powers to know that I would have to go to the beach yesterday. Or you just knew that I would be super excited to hear about a new coffee shop in Boston and thought you’d help me out by writing a thoughtful and detailed review. Either way, I am grateful. And I am looking forward to checking out The Thinking Cup when I am visiting Boston at the end of July. I’ll be there because someone close to me is getting married. You’ll enjoy reading her review – whether or not you have a pending trip to Boston. 🙂
Guest Review: The Thinking Cup Coffee Bar and Patisserie
By Kimberly Zimmer
If you’ve ever read my friend Anne’s blog Anne Loves Coffee More, you probably already have the idea that every cup of coffee is a thinking cup. Every coffee adventure she embarks upon leads her to thinking at length about the cup of coffee in hand: ruminating about its preparation, examining its integrity, making comparisons to others that came before it. Anne’s quest for the best coffee – and places to drink it – is such a pure passion, it cannot be helped but to admire it. Or to have it pop into your head any time you wander into a coffee bar that offers something more than standard fare.
Short story long, last week I was early for an appointment, so I stopped into Thinking Cup on Newbury Street in Boston. For those of you who are LA based, this avenue in Boston is often considered the place to saunter and shop and snack. It’s known for high-end stores, boutique wares, and patio-ed eateries.
If you like your coffee bar to have bragging rights, this is the place for you. Thinking Cup took home the honors for First Place in the Latte Art Competition at the 2014 Coffee Fest in New York, NY. I am not going to lie, I wasn’t aware there was such a competition, but I did enjoy the heart and bird that surprised me in my foam when I moved to put a lid on my latte.
My latte was creamy and light, and its flavor subtle. Before you listen to my opinion about coffee’s taste, I should mention that, for the last eight years, I only drink decaf. I may not be able to have caffeine anymore, but my need and appreciation for the coffee experience is still there. What I have noticed in my decaf travels is that most often, the decaffeinated coffee is an afterthought or an annoyance to the baristas or wait staff. It’s not uncommon for it to have a burned or stale taste – or both. Sometimes it is not such a blatant offense but merely tastes “off” somehow. This latte almost fooled me into thinking there had been some mistake with my request for decaf.
Thinking Cup is nestled in a sunny spot, but it’s the chandelier-festooned hipster interior that catches your attention. That and the mile-long line people stand in to wait for their precious cup. Luckily, the staff is excellent, and before you finish looking at all the decadent pastry and desserts filling the cases that greet you at the entry and continue all the way to the register (Peach, Apricot and Blueberry Brioche, anyone? Perhaps your cappuccino will be best enjoyed with the Chocolate Nutella version? Or your Affogato with cookies or biscotti?), you hear your name called out, and you take your coffee from the smiling barista.
If you’re staying for breakfast, you may decide to try the delicious quiche, or the tasty and hearty steel-cut oatmeal with apples, cranberries, and walnuts, and a cup of Americano. (I know that Anne has previously professed disdain for this coffee beverage choice, but I counted no fewer that eight being ordered while I was at the Thinking Cup, and all of the people I asked responded with some version of “love the way they do it here. It’s delicious.”) You can also grab an afternoon pick-me-up espresso and some fruit, a salad, small sandwiches, or a pastry or four. Gluten-free and dairy-free options are also available.
Subplot: The Thinking Cup’s Beans.
As Anne will tell you, finding good beans is the basis for great coffee. Thinking Cup proudly serves several varieties of coffee from the award-winning Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Stumptown’s story begins “Coffee is about pleasure. It’s that moment when your hand is warmed by the mug, you bring it up to your nose, inhale deeply and then take a sip.” Sounds like Anne, doesn’t it?
Their “Green Team” travels to 10 countries around the world to experience and choose the beans firsthand. Their Direct Trade model allows them to have a real partnership with the farmers who produce the coffee beans. I cheered a little inside when I read about their relationship with and opinion of their producers. Either they have a PR person with a pack of lies and a way with words, or they are doing business the right way.
In summary, my visit to The Thinking Cup was a lovely experience. I will happily go back the next time I’m in the neighborhood.
The Thinking Cup Coffee Bar and Patisserie
85 Newbury St (and other locations)
Boston, MA 02116
City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.
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