The Java Room

The Java Room: cafe, music, espressoWhen I originally started the Coffee Spot, the intention was to write about places where I liked to have coffee. Although it’s evolved a lot since then, this original motivation is still very much at the heart of the Coffee Spot. On that basis, I present today’s Saturday Supplement, The Java Room. Located in a small plaza on Littleton Road in Chelmsford, you might be mistaken for thinking that this represents my first foray into Essex, but this happens to be Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Confusingly, the New England version of Chelmsford is in Middlesex County. Go figure, as my American friends would say.

The Java Room offers pretty standard coffee-shop fare. There are no flat whites and piccolos here, no single-origin beans or micro-lots, just large lattes, cappuccinos and espresso, along with bulk-brewed filter coffee and various iced and blended beverages. Where the Java Room really scores is in its atmosphere. It’s a lovely spot, the perfect, small town, neighbourhood coffee shop, friendly, relaxed and welcoming. I’m kicking myself for having been to Chelmsford many, many times and not discovering it before last year.

March 2015: Correction. I popped in one Monday in March (since I was literally passing by) and there are indeed flat whites to be had at The Java Room. Naturally, I had to have one and it was very fine.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The little plaza on Littleton Road, home of The Java Room.
  • The Java Room itself...
  • ... and as seen from the other side.
  • And in more detail.
  • The outside tables are a little bit superfluous.
  • A nice, warm welcome!
  • The counter, as seen from just inside the door.
  • The entrance area, as seen from the other side of The Java Room.
  • The bar in the far corner.
  • The window seats.
  • Another view of the window seats.
  • Some of the main seating.
  • Looking across the main room to the piano and bar in the corner.
  • More seating.
  • The piano against the far wall.
  • I was very taken by the pictures.
  • A typical example of the seating.
  • There's also this one six-person table.
  • The obligatory light-fitting picture.
  • The somewhat extensive menu.
  • Cake!
  • The array of cheesecake and cannoli was impressive.
  • The espresso machine has its own little enclosure.
  • My latte. Nice latte art.
  • My awesome muffin.
  • A commendably short espresso.
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I was in Chelmsford to meet some friends, arriving a day before everyone else. Tired of sitting on my own in the hotel, I wrapped up warm (thermals, two layers on top of that, winter coat, thick socks, hiking boots, two pairs of gloves, woolly hat) and made the brisk, 15-minute walk into Chelmsford specifically to visit The Java Room. As it turns out, I didn’t wrap up nearly warmly enough; -15C outside and I was literally shaking with cold when I arrived.

The Java Room is in a small plaza, a pleasant L-shaped collection of shops and restaurants around its own parking lot. A brick-pillared colonnade runs around the edge, providing some shelter for the row of tables outside The Java Room. While they may be ideal in the summer, they were a little optimistic in the middle of the New England winter!

A double-doored airlock lets you into The Java Room, which, in layout, reminds me of Birmingham’s Saint Kitchen, although The Java Room’s about twice the size. Roughly square in shape, there’s a sofa to the right as you come in, with the counter ahead of you. This occupies about two-thirds of the back of the store, the remaining third occupied by a well-stocked bar. There’s space between door and counter for those waiting to order or collect their coffee, while the bulk of the seating is to your left.

This consists of a row of two-person tables with high chairs running along the window, which itself runs the full length of the front of the store. A scattered, well-spaced collection of mostly round tables, each with three or four chairs fills the rest of the space. It feels spacious but simultaneously neighbourly and I imagine that it’s very snug in the evening. The Java Room hosts jazz and other music events, as witnessed by the baby grand piano by the bar and there was a decent selection of music playing over the speakers. The natural light from the windows, boosted by multiple lights, make it very bright inside, but it played havoc with my phone’s camera.

The Java Room serves an extensive menu: quiches, sandwiches, wraps, soup and the like, as well as some specials, making it a good spot for lunch (which is how I first found it). I had a very fine spinach and pepper quiche, which was sweet and slightly spicy. I demolished it long before I thought about photographing it!

I paired this with a latte which was a little on the large size (the choice was 12oz or 16oz; I had 12oz). A little too milky for my tastes, it was perfectly acceptable and just what I needed after my freezing walk. I also had an old-school espresso which was commendably short although a little bitter for my tastes. Once again there was nothing wrong with it.

I paired this with a fantastic banana and walnut muffin which was really excellent. There is something about the way that Americans do muffins that we don’t seem to match in the UK. It was sweet, without being sickly, and wonderfully light, the ideal thing for the moment (although I was sorely tempted by the chiller cabinet packed full of cheesecake and cannoli; however, it was not a day for cold things!).

14 LITTLETON ROAD • CHELMSFORD • MA 01824 • USA +1 978 256 0001
Monday 07:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Bar, Tables outside
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:00 Food Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:00 Service Counter
Thursday 07:00 – 21:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Friday 07:00 – 23:00 Wifi Free
Saturday 08:00 – 23:00 Power Yes
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits 27th February 2014

I apologise, by the way, for the quality of the pictures, which were all taken on my old phone. For some reason, I’d neglected to bring my camera with me and the phone really struggled with the lighting. I’ve since changed phones from my Desire S to a Samsung Galaxy 4 which is a vast improvement!

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