Though guides to Boston always hail the Back Bay, with its stretch of boutiques lining Newbury Street, as a shopper’s paradise, even the most prodigious bargain-hunter needs a break sometimes. Luckily, the following cafes offer the chance to sit down, rest any weary feet, and indulge in that other great Back Bay past time: people watching.
Wired Puppy, 250 Newbury St.
Wired Puppy, with its plethora of canine-themed roasts like “Sweet Puppy Love” and “Hair of the Dog,” definitely wins the award for cutest café. But they haven’t entirely gone to the dogs: human companions will be delighted with the sheer amount of beverage options and substitutions this café offers, from almond milk – surprisingly hard to find in Boston! – to cult-classic Mash sodas.
Render Coffee, 563 Columbus Ave.
Render, tucked away in a residential neighborhood sandwiched between the Back Bay and the South End, takes its coffee seriously. It does, after all, have a legacy to maintain: founder Chris Dadey is a former general manager of Boston indie café juggernaut Espresso Royale and Pavement Coffeehouse. The sleek Render Coffee specializes in the pour over method, a tantalizingly slow brewing process that guarantees a delicious cup but might drive impatient caffeine fiends mad.
Pavement Coffeehouse, 286 Newbury St.
Though Pavement and Render might have some shared employee history, the Pavement chain, with six locations all over the city, remains singular in its Boston coffee dominance. What makes the Newbury location different from – and superior to – its siblings, though, lies in its size: it’s small, with only a couple of seats, which means that the lingering college kid crowd tends to stay away and it might be possible to even grab a table of your own. Otherwise, this Pavement has everything we love about the chain: Counter Culture roasts, muffins as big as our heads, and some of the best sandwich options in the city.
Café Jaffa, 48 Gloucester St.
Okay, okay, we admit it: Café Jaffa, despite the name, veers a little more restaurant than coffeehouse. But those petty distinctions fade away after sitting down with a large Turkish coffee ($3.75) and a plate of hummus or potato bourekas. The café, with its relaxed vibe, big windows, and Middle Eastern food options, has been in operation since 1991, and sells Israeli newspapers alongside its edible fare.