There’s nothing like the aroma and taste of fresh-brewed coffee to perk you up and get you ready to face the day. Here in New England, people are pretty passionate about their favorite java joints—and there’s quite an assortment to choose from. We took a look inside four South Shore coffee shops that entice customers to come in out of the cold and stay a while. With comfortable seating and locally roasted brews on the menu, they are the sort of places where the regulars are known by name and where the lattes look like works of art. In addition, we’ve compiled some helpful coffee brewing tips for budding baristas and interesting facts about two major coffee brands with local roots.
Seabird Coffee & Co.
24 South Main St., Cohasset
Situated in the heart of Cohasset Village, Seabird Coffee & Co. is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, but it has been creating a buzz ever since the doors opened in August. The atmosphere is cozy and refined, with exposed brick and wood, and potted succulents scattered about. Snag one of the high-top counter seats or sit on the bench beside the front window to soak up some sunlight and gaze out at the street’s upscale boutiques and businesses.
“There’s a huge transformation going on in coffee and I wanted to highlight the craft and the local roasters,” says owner Brian McLaughlin, who developed a passion for coffee while working as an apprentice for Bob Weeks, the owner of Redeye Roasters in Hingham.
Seabird Coffee & Co. features a different New England roaster each month, allowing customers to sip chestnut-colored artisan brews from places like Speedwell Coffee in Plymouth, George Howell Coffee in Acton and Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters in Brewster. For customers looking to sample something extra special, the team behind the counter is happy to offer suggestions, such as Mexican hot chocolate or an activated charcoal and raw honey latte—a well-balanced drink that not only looks cool, but is also said to have detoxifying health benefits.
Coffee Break Café
12 Old Colony Avenue, Quincy
77 Parkingway, Quincy
24 Central Avenue, Milton
When Jenn and Donny Ormond established Coffee Break Cafe (CBC) in 1996, their goal was to offer topnotch customer service and an even better cup of coffee. The couple must have done something right, because the local brand is still going strong, with two locations in Quincy and another in Milton.
“The secret is being welcoming, friendly and really getting to know the customers and community,” says Jenn, who sources high-quality ingredients from specialty micro-roasters and local dairy farms and bakeries. For hot coffee drinkers, there’s a delicious hot mint mocha latte flavored with a touch of chocolate and a hint of mint. But the thing that keeps customers coming back is the iced coffee, which is served year-round.
“It’s a true New England staple and we pride ourselves on consistently making our customers’ favorite drinks,” says Donny. The menu includes such specialty beverages as the popular frozen cocoa and chewy bagels smeared with inventive cream cheese flavors (like spicy buffalo chicken and maple bacon with bits of real bacon.). For an added perk, this community-focused cafe recently started putting inspirational labels on their drinks, sending customers out into the world with a little extra love, gratitude and kindness with every cup.
Lucky Finn Cafe
206 Front St., Scituate
With its all-white décor and spectacular perch on scenic Scituate Harbor, Lucky Finn Cafe is the ultimate seaside coffee shop. Norwell residents Mary Ellen and Chris Stoddard became the new owners in July and have since worked to develop the coffee shop’s menu and social media presence. While head barista Brianna Bovill turns out Instagram-worthy salted caramel lattes, guests enjoy their drinks by the windows and enjoy the view of fishing boats and Scituate Lighthouse in the distance. “Customers love taking photos of the harbor from the back deck, even in the winter,” says Mary Ellen.
In addition to the many coffee creations on the menu, Lucky Finn has a good-sized food selection. This fall, Mary Ellen came up with a fig, bacon and Havarti grilled cheese sandwich, affectionately known as “The Figgy,” which has been a customer favorite. “It sounds sophisticated, but it’s good comfort food,” says Bovill.
The owners have made an effort to stay connected to the local community. They source the beans for their Cosmic Debris espresso from Redeye Roasters in Hingham and sell delicate macaron cookies made by a baker in Scituate. Local artwork is displayed on the cafe walls and merchandise bearing the company’s logo is stacked on shelves. “We started a Lucky Finn clothing line and whenever I see people wearing our gear it reinforces to me that we’re a landmark in the community,” says Mary Ellen. This winter, keep an eye on their Facebook page for news of a special collaboration between Lucky Finn Cafe and Untold Brewery in Scituate.
Redeye Coffee Roasters
3 Otis St., Hingham
From single-origin brews to specialty espresso drinks, you’ll find it all at Redeye Coffee Roasters in Hingham. Owner Bob Weeks began roasting his own coffee in 2006 and has travelled across the world—from Ethiopia to Guatemala—to bring the best beans back to the South Shore. The harborside cafe attracts coffee lovers from around the South Shore and beyond. “I wanted to create a place where people can mingle with friends or just sit and read,” says Weeks. There’s no Wi-Fi in the cafe, and that’s intentional. Weeks says that most customers don’t mind because it gives them a chance to get to know their community.
One of the South Shore’s coffee roasting experts, Weeks has his own evaluation form for qualities like flavor, aroma and texture or body of the coffee. “When I first sample a new coffee, I taste a light roast because the process exposes the flavors and also the defects. If you do a dark roast, it will kill the coffee’s bright notes.” Weeks keeps a variety of single-origin coffees in stock, which customers can purchase and percolate in their homes. What sets Redeye Roasters apart is the “slow bar,” where the baristas manually brew the coffee. “The slow bar is a more personal interaction. Everyone gets a fresh, custom cup and we get to educate the customer,” says Weeks. The coffee shop also offers a nitro brew from a cold brew system where the coffee is stored in kegs and infused with nitrogen. “It gives the coffee a frothy head and makes it look thick and creamy, like Guinness, when it’s poured.”