Top 5 Coffee Shops in the Boston Symphony Area

Whether you’re a student, heading to the symphony proper, or just enjoy living/hanging out in one of Boston’s cultural centers,  knowing where to find a good latte is an essential skill in Symphony. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of good stuff to go around. Let’s take a closer look.

Caffè Bene

Just off the Symphony Green Line T stop, the Symphony Caffè Bene is one of a few U.S. locations for the Seoul-based Korean dessert cafe chain, and we’re lucky to have them. With a cute, cozy decor and a tempting array of snacks, it’s an excellent spot to get some work done, or curl up with headphones and a book. Some of the desserts are a bit on the pricey side, which makes much more sense when you see the portions: dishes like the pineapple bun and mango bingsu (shaved ice) are clearly meant to be shared by two or more people. Though we won’t judge you if you get one all for yourself.

But how does it fare purely as a coffee shop? Brilliantly, as it turns out. From the rich, nutty misugaru latte, to smooth lavender milk tea, iced green tea lattes, and a decidedly sweet take on the standard vanilla latte, Bene brings a different flair to its drinks: perfect for when you want to switch things up a little.Do yourself a favor, and get their honey bread with your drink of choice. You’ll be glad you did.

Kung Fu Tea

If bubble tea is your thing, this is the place for you. While they do have some espresso-based drinks on hand, calling this a coffee shop in the literal sense would be a stretch by any means. But if you’re thinking in the colloquial sense, where coffee shop and cafe mean a place where you go for the drinks, atmosphere, and to chat and/or study? The Symphony Kung Fu Tea delivers.

Milk tea, boba tea, bubble tea: when it comes to the category of “tea with stuff in it,” Kung Fu has all the bases covered. If you’re not familiar with this type of establishment, it’s worth noting that a: drinks definitely run on the sweet side, and b: you can — and possibly should — get your drink with less than 100% sugar. Or hey, dive in with that sweet tooth: whatever makes you happy.

And Kung Fu Tea makes us happy: it’ll probably do the same for you.

J.P. Licks

Yep, the ice cream place. No, we’re not joking. If you’ve never tried JP’s coffee, you are seriously missing out. A far cry from the generic coffee some might expect, JP roasts their own coffee beans in house, serving up micro-roasted batches of fair trade organic coffee. Their blends are so good, that they’ve even got a national coffee delivery service set up, shipping their proprietary coffee all over the country. The way they tell it, Dunkin’s roasts are too light, and Starbucks’ are too dark: so they aim for something in-between. And if you’re craving a good medium roast — surprisingly tricky to find — JP’s got your number.

From nitro cold brew to mint mochas, the espresso bar serves up a nice blend of classic drinks with a few more adventurous offerings. And of course, it’s a fantastic place for ice cream, cupcakes, and their signature Lixwich ice cream sandwiches. So yes: this is a fantastic destination for those of us with a sweet tooth. But if all you want is a great cup of coffee, don’t let the ice cream sundaes scare you off: J.P. Licks’ coffee is the real deal.

Render Coffee

“Above all else, coffee.”

So goes the slogan of Render Coffee, and they mean it too. Though technically located in the Back Bay, Render is only a couple hundred feet from the Symphony T stop. So even though it might not gel with the strictest interpretation of neighborhood lines, we’re less worried about that than we are the coffee. 

Either way, Render is a prime destination for coffee lovers around Symphony, with the reputation of being your barista’s favorite coffee shop. While we can’t speak for them, we can say that the drinks on offer hold up their end of the bargain. From the signature malt iced coffee, to house-made takes on classics like a hazelnut latte, Render puts its own spin on everything they do. Multiple drip brews are on hand every day, and the two hour wi-fi limit — while inconvenient if you’re looking to curl up at a table for marathon work sessions — means that tables open up much more frequently than expected for such a popular spot. 

If you’re looking for refined flavors that you can’t find anywhere else, Render’s your spot.

Pavement Coffeehouse 

Between the mega-chains and the “mom & pop” storefronts sits Pavement Coffeehouse. With eight locations across Boston and Cambridge, Pavement’s curated selection of locally roasted coffees is good enough to warrant a nationwide subscription service. The original Berklee location is popular with good reason, but we’d like to draw your attention to the Symphony location. While its spacious enough to host a number of patrons, its popularity means it's often doing just that, which can make finding a table tricky.

In this case, the popularity is well-earned. Whether you’re in the mood for a cinnamon fig latte, or loose-leaf tumeric ginger is (literally) your cup of tea, Pavement offers up drinks with character to spare. That said, if your tastes run more towards the conventional, the selection of mochas, hot chocolate, and other standbys will not disappoint. 

A Symphony of Options

There’s plenty more where these came from — we didn’t even touch on the excellent Farmer’s Horse, or the Starbucks, Panera, and Dunkin’ locations scattered around the neighborhood — but we’ve got to stop somewhere, or we’ll be here all day. 

So what’s your favorite coffee shop in Symphony/Northeastern? Did we miss a hidden gem? Let us know in the comments!