George Howell is a something of a legend in American speciality coffee. He made his name as a roaster, but 10 years ago, George, as his staff refer to him, returned to running coffee shops under the George Howell brand, starting in Newtonville in 2012. This, the subject of today’s Saturday Short, is the first Boston location, in the high-profile Boston Public Market, which opened in 2015, while a second Boston location in the Godfrey Hotel on Washington Street opened a year later.
Boston Public Market is home to a high-quality espresso/coffee bar, catering primarily to the takeaway market, but with proper cups for espresso and glasses for cortados (although this is currently suspended due to COVID-19). It’s an impressive operation, with house-blend, single-farm and decaf on espresso, plus further single-farm coffees for the iced-coffee, batch brew, with two more on pour-over, courtesy of twin Marco Beverage Systems SP9s using the Chemex. You can buy retail bags of coffee, plus various merchandising and coffee-related kit.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Boston Public Market is in downtown Boston, near City Hall and the more tourist-orientated Fanuiel Hall/Quincy Market. From the outset it’s been reserved for local producers, something akin to a large, indoor farmers’ market. By dint of roasting its coffee 24½ miles away in Acton, MA, George Howell meets the criteria, being part of the market since it opened, bringing high-quality speciality coffee to a high-profile location. Although only selling coffee, George Howell is one of almost 40 local producers in the market, including bakers, farmers and various hot/cold food outlets, so if you want cake or something more substantial to go with your coffee, there are plenty of options.
George Howell is relatively easy to find. From the entrance on the corner of Congress/Hanover Streets, take the first aisle on the left, where you’ll find George Howell at the end. Originally it was on the right, but it’s since moved to a larger counter on the left, next to a side door to Congress Street.
George Howell occupies an L-shaped counter, the top of the L facing the aisle, with the bottom at the far end of the aisle, where you’ll find a pair of tills, the menu on the back wall of the counter. A retail section is off the right, which includes bags of coffee and, in a recent addition, Cometeer capsules featuring George Howell’s coffee.
Once you’ve ordered, a one-way system leads you down the left-hand side (along the aisle) where you can collect your coffee. This takes you past a pair of Marco Beverage Systems SP9s and their attendant Chemex, followed by a top-of-the-range three-group La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine and its three Mythos grinders (Alchemy house-blend, single-farm espresso and decaf).
On my first visit in 2016, I tried the single-farm espresso, a Kenyan Mamuto AA, while on my return, six years later, I had the Alchemy blend as a cortado. With hindsight, I probably should have done this the other way around since in 2016, the Kenyan (the lightest roast on offer) was far too bright and acidic for my palate. Beautifully prepared, it was served in an amazing cup with a sloping rim. I suspect, if I’d had it now, I’d have loved it.
My cortado, meanwhile, was gorgeous, coffee and milk combining for classic notes of chocolate and nut which I loved and would have loved just as much in 2016. Amanda was with me on my return, ordering a pour-over made with the Bukeye, a washed coffee from Burundi. She enjoyed this so much that we returned the following day to a buy a retail bag.
February 2022: this is an updated version of the original post which was published in September 2016. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update.
|BOSTON PUBLIC MARKET • 100 HANOVER ST • BOSTON • MA 02108 • USA|
|www.georgehowellcoffee.com||+1 617 777 2217|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:00||Roaster||George Howell (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:00||Seating||None|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||N/A|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Power||N/A|
|Chain||Local||Visits||Original: 25th February 2016
Update: 12th February 2022
For more on George Howell, see this excellent interview from Sprudge, while you can also see what Sprudge made of the coffee bar itself. Meanwhile, you can see what my friend and fellow coffee-blogger, Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato, got up to when she attended a coffee extraction class at the Public Market.
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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