We were surprised to learn that Boston was chosen for the debut outlet of Central Perk, a coffeehouse franchise concept named for the fictional gathering spot on ‶Friends.″ We understand the impulse: People love to linger over a cup of java in convivial surroundings. But Massachusetts is already rich with small artisanal coffee roasters, many with welcoming cafes offering true local flavor. They are the Arabica equivalent of brewpubs — places to quaff a drink that the makers really care about and share a cup with friends.
Here are a few roaster cafes outside the Hub to warm up a winter day.
Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters
Coming from a coffee culture, it might have been destiny that Peruvian native Manuel Ainzuain operates a coffee roastery and cafes. He started by roasting beans to sell at farmers’ markets before opening a cafe in Brewster in 2015. In 2021, he installed a big Loring roaster on Route 6A in Sandwich and opened this second location. Grab a seat at a couch or a high-top table to watch the beans turn from gray-green to chestnut brown. Alas, an excellent exhaust system whisks away the aromas.
Customers in a hurry might order a simple cup of drip coffee, but those planning on savoring their sip usually opt for a pour-over. Single-origin coffees are available, but the most popular choice is Captain Crosby, a full-bodied blend of beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along with muffins and scones, Snowy Owl offers delicious Peruvian-style empanadas.
161 Route 6A, Sandwich; 774-413-5320; socoffee.co. Coffee $2.85-$5.75. Open Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Also 2624 Main St., Brewster; 774-323-0605. Open Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Slack Tide Coffee Roasters
If one word describes Slack Tide, it’s probably ‶mellow.″ As in ‶mellow, dude.″ The busiest season here is the summer, barista Megan Cavano told us. ‶We’re a beach community.″ But doughnuts know no season. Rush hour is at 8:30 each Tuesday through Sunday morning, when trays of doughnuts arrive from Slack Tide’s bakery down the street. The most popular is the ‶cinnabonne,″ topped with a cream cheese frosting. The sweet treat makes a great counterpart to a drip cup of dark roast Brazilian.
Hold the cream and sugar.
The Marshfield location shares a building with skate and surf shop Levitate, perhaps best known for its summer music festival and its beach cleanup events. To-go customers stream through, but window counter seats, some tall tables, and overflow seating in Levitate’s bar provide spots for mindful sipping.
1871 Ocean St., Marshfield; slacktidecoffee.com. Coffee $2.75-$5.50. Open daily 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Also 283 Columbia Road, Hanover. Open daily 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Redeye Coffee Roasters
Located at Bare Cove Marina at Hingham Town Landing, Redeye is ideal for warming up after a brisk winter walk along the town beach. Owner Bob Weeks, a former advertising art director, opened shop here on the harbor in 2011, five years after he got into the artisanal coffee roasting trade. Redeye has a changing roster of single-origin coffees, but the shop’s foundational blend is one that Weeks calls Cosmic Debris. (Coffee roasters, like microbrewers, are given to creative naming.) Blended from Ethiopian and Brazilian beans, it’s the basis for the house espresso and most espresso-based drinks. The particularly fruity blend with blackberry, dried currant, and brown sugar notes was recognized as a top boutique espresso in Coffee Review.
Redeye also serves a limited breakfast and lunch menu, using Pain D’Avignon breads for its sandwiches. If it’s too cold for a beachside walk, grab a counter seat to enjoy views of the marina.
3 Otis St., Hingham; 781-740-2545; redeyeroasters.com. Coffee $3-$4.75. Open daily 7 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Common Ground Coffee Roasters
The last time we were at Common Ground, the women at the table next to us discussed the fitness regime they were both planning to start — right after one finished an ‶everything″ omelet with bacon, sausage, and ham, and the other polished off a big plate of French toast. Despite the highway-side location, Common Ground is an unusually good spot to have a casual weekend brunch along with that cup of artisanal coffee.
Almost all the coffees are crafted with a Goldilocks roast — neither too light nor too dark. The roaster’s Central American and Brazilian coffees emphasize fruit and nut notes. Most customers seem to order either a latte or a house-blend espresso, but single-origin coffees, served as pour-overs, make the coffee the star of the table.
1727 Revere Beach Pkwy., Everett; 617-381-1700; commongroundcoffeeroasters.com. Coffee $2.50-$5.95. Open Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Brunch served weekends 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Company
The name Lost Shoe references Marlborough’s once-mighty shoe manufacturing industry. (The iconic Frye boot and shoe company started here in 1863.) The surprisingly warm and welcoming industrial space is devoted to the artisanal skills of roasting coffee and brewing beer.
Roaster Caleb Hallowell roasts beans in 20-pound batches every Tuesday. The hands-down favorite coffee is the Stitch blend, a medium roast with notes of chocolate, caramel, and citrus. It’s also the basis for most espresso-based drinks, including the lattes that moms order to curl up on the couches with their toddlers.
At 11 a.m., Lost Shoe starts pouring its beers, also made on-site. If that java and malt combo were not enough reason to entice you in, the place has a busy schedule of free concerts, some at midday, and a year-round Monday evening running club.
19 Weed St., Marlborough; lostshoebrews.com. Coffee $2.50-$5. Open Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Acoustic Java Roastery & Tasting Room
Located in a venerable red brick mill building near Holy Cross college, Acoustic Java takes coffee seriously. It even offers barista skills classes and an introduction to coffee course. More casual customers swing by to order a cup and a pastry and then take a seat to sip. If you left your phone at home, peruse one of literally thousands of used books for sale while you savor that macchiato, flat white, or just a single double espresso (the smallest they pull).
The Italian-style coffees are all based on the excellent Roastmeisters Espresso blend, which has winey notes of Ethiopian, the robust full body of Sumatran, and dark chocolate nuttiness of Central American. On top of the permutations of espresso-based coffee drinks, Acoustic Java offers pour-over coffee flights as well as pour-over full cups of any of the shop’s single-origin coffees. Still curious? Ask about the public coffee cuppings.
3 Brussels St., Worcester; 774-420-2476; acousticjava.com. Coffee $2.95-$9.98. Open daily 8 a.m.-2 p.m.