Berkeley Perk Café

The Berkeley Perk Cafe logo on a flag hanging outside the shopThe Berkley Perk Café is a well-established and well-loved coffee shop in Boston’s South End, having been around for 15 years. It offers a typical American-style coffee shop menu, with the usual espresso-based drinks, the obligatory flasks of filter coffee and a sideline in iced coffee. It has a small but tasty range of cakes and cookies, a decent breakfast menu of omelettes, bagels and egg sandwiches and an extensive range of reasonably-priced sandwiches for lunch.

In conversation with the owner I learned that the inspiration had been a trip to London 15 years ago, which led to a desire to create something with a different look-and-feel than the run-of-the-mill American coffee shop. Whatever the inspiration, the end result is a wonderful place, the lovely atmosphere making it close to the perfect place to drink coffee. Quiet but busy, with friendly but not intrusive staff and a bright and warm interior to draw you in, the Perk is the sort of place you could spend an entire afternoon and leave wandering where the time had gone.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

The Berkley Perk Café is somewhere I’ve known about for a few years, but only recently came to appreciate when it was recommended to me on twitter by Greg of Coffee Guru App fame. A firm favourite of Boston’s South End, it’s just four doors away from the Chandler Inn, where I’ve stayed on my last three visits to Boston. You might think that this proximity would be an advantage, but in the case of the Berkeley Perk, it’s quite the opposite. When I get up and leave the hotel in the morning, the last thing on my mind is a coffee break. When it comes time for my first coffee break, a few hours later, I’m usually miles away. Hence the problem.

I came across the Berkley Perk during my first stay at the Chandler Inn, when I was looking for somewhere for breakfast. “Ah ha!” I thought as I spied the breakfast menu, thinking I had struck lucky with such a place right on the doorstep of my hotel. Sadly, while the breakfast menu of omelettes, bagels and egg sandwiches looked excellent, it was only served until 10 am (noon on Saturdays; sadly, it wasn’t a Saturday). Regular readers, who know my relationship with mornings, will be unsurprised to learn that I arrived rather too late. Unreasonably I took umbrage at this, found Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe and the rest is history.

So, when I got the recommendation, I decided it was about time I gave the Berkley Perk Café another chance and I’m glad that I did.

Now, I’m not going to rave about the coffee; there are better places nearby for the pure coffee experience. However, as a place to drink coffee and to socialise, the Berkley Perk is up there with the best of them. It’s not huge, but it makes the most of the space without being over-crowded. Pride of place goes to a square of four booths right in the centre, with lovely glass dividers between them. There’s a row of high tables with bar stools down the wall on the left-hand side and another three small tables in the bow window at the front. There are also three lovely and comfortable-looking armchairs between the booths and the window, with the counter right at the back.

The interior is laid out in wood, with a tiled floor and yellow and orange painted walls, which look much better than they sound! The generous bay window fills the place with light, which complements the natural tones of the wood and the colour scheme. The atmosphere is completed by the radio playing quietly in the background and the gentle hum of conversation and (mostly takeaway) orders from the constant stream of customers, many of them regulars.

The coffee purist in me would rebel, but if I lived in the area, I could see me being a regular in the Berkley Perk Café, especially on a sunny afternoon. One downside is the lack of wifi and the limited number of power outlets, but, if like me, you are staying at the Chandler Inn, its free wifi is strong enough to just about make it through the walls and provide a passable service!

69 BERKELEY STREET • BOSTON • MA 02116 • USA
+1 617 426 7375
Monday 06:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Booths, Comfy Chairs
Tuesday 06:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Wednesday 06:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 06:30 – 17:00 Cards Cash only
Friday 06:30 – 17:00 Wifi No (see main text)
Saturday 06:30 – 17:00 Power A few
Sunday CLOSED Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits 26th February 2013

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Boston and Cambridge for more great Coffee Spots.


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2 thoughts on “Berkeley Perk Café

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