Coffee Worth Traveling For

More
two hearts_avlxyz.jpg

Photo by Conveyor belt sushi/Flickr CC


On a very cold December day, far from Harvard Square, on an otherwise nondescript stretch of Mass. Avenue I wandered into the tiny lab/showroom/standup coffee bar of Barismo to find the place filled with young hipster tourists from all over the U.S. and a few from abroad. There was enough warmth from the crowd to steam the windows. I found a familiar face and asked, "What is going on?" She said, "I don't know. They're tourists and sometimes they arrive in groups."

They come because Barismo may be the moment's cool coffee company. Barismo is picky about beans and they roast in small batches using two customized roasters from Taiwan. And at 169 Mass. Ave in Arlington, across from Bob Sargent's Flora restaurant, they play, sort of like the Dead End Kids who once had their own basement clubhouse in the movies of the 1930's: Huntz Hall, Leo Gorcey, Billy Halop.

Coffee tourists can be divided into two groups, those who travel "to origin,"--or countries that produce coffee--and those who visit cafes that offer great coffee.

They hang out with each other and pull nearly perfect shots, and they use Japanese brewing equipment to make cups of coffee that may be even better. While I was l listening to visitors describe where they came from and admiring the fashionable, furry head gear of two Japanese girls, the barista lowered his head and concentrated while he prepared a single-origin espresso shot that truly tasted fruity and wine-like. And then using an eccentric Japanese glass siphon the same barista made me the best mild cup of coffee I've ever had. Four of the barismaniacs gathered around to counsel patience while the coffee cooled and be supportive as fruit notes emerged and changed.

Coffee tourists can be divided into two groups, those who travel "to origin,"--or countries that produce coffee--and those who visit cafes that offer great coffee, or cities that have clusters of famous cafes. New York City was once a terrible city for good coffee but now there are a half dozen excellent coffee companies--none of them selling coffee in the distinctive paper cup livery of the city's Greek diners. Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia are a kind of Cinque Terre for coffee heads. Italy and Vienna have cafes that lure older customers but the hard-core coffee hipster is more likely to head for Scandinavia. And this banal strip of Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, Mass.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Gus Rancatore is the co-founder of Toscanini, the Cambridge-based shop that The New York Times said makes "the best ice cream in the world." Learn more at www.tosci.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In