George Howell, Boston Public Market Update

Details of the coffee menu at George Howell, Boston Public Market.When Amanda and I arrived in Boston last weekend, getting coffee was top of our list, and where better than George Howell in the Boston Public Market? It helped that it was on the way to our hotel, plus the New England winter had taken the weekend off, resulting in a glorious spring day, so we were able to take our coffee (it’s takeaway only thanks to COVID-19) across the road to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where we enjoyed it while sitting in the sun.

I originally visited the coffee bar almost exactly six years ago, in February 2016, not long after it had opened. These days, it (and the Boston Public Market) is still going strong, do so well, in fact, that it’s now open seven days a week and has moved across the aisle to a much bigger counter, at least doubling in size. The basic offering remains the same though: top-notch coffee (espresso, batch brew and pour-over through the Chemex) along with a large range of retail bags of coffee for sale.

You can see what else I found after the gallery.

  • George Howell, as I remember it from 2016, in the Boston Public Market. However, when...
  • ... I returned with Amanda in 2022, it wasn't there. Fortunately, it hadn't gone far, just...
  • ... across the aisle (to the right of its old location in the previous photo).
  • As well as the change of location, the signage has had an update. Ths is from 2016...
  • ... whereas now George Howell's signature is on all the signs!
  • The packaging has also been updated in line with the new signs...
  • ... so that it now looks like this. There's also a wider range of beans on sale...
  • ... while George Howell has added Cometeer capsules to the retail range.
  • Originally, the till was at the Hanover Street end of the old counter.
  • Now it's at the other end of the new counter. What's more, there are two tills!
  • Even the menu has had an upgrade, the old chalk-written menu on the cupboard doors...
  • ... being replaced by this dedicated menu board.
  • Finally, the La Marzocco Strada espresso machine...
  • ... has made way for this top-of-the-range KB90.
  • When I visited in 2016, the newly-installed Marco SP9s hadn't been plumbed in...
  • ... but six years later, they'd made the move across the aisle and were going strong.
  • Here's one of them in action, making Amanda's pour-over in a Chemex.
  • I love watching the coffee drip through.
  • On my first visit, I had an espresso, served (along with cortados) in a proper cup.
  • This time around, COVID-19 protections mean serving everything in disposable cups.
  • I had a cortado, which I immediately transferred to my HuskeeCup...
  • ... which we took outside with Amanda's pour-over to enjoy sitting in the spring sunshine.
Webpage Slideshow by v4.6

Even though it had been six years since my previous visit, I made my way unerringly along the aisles of the Boston Public Market to the coffee bar. Only it wasn’t there! Fortunately for me, it hadn’t gone far, just moved across the aisle to a far larger spot (at least twice the size) by the windows.

In many ways, very little has changed. It felt the same as when I visited the first time. On the other hand, plenty has changed, and not just the location. You approached the old coffee bar from the direction of Hanover Street, whereas the new coffee bar has the till at the other end. You can think of them both as L-shaped, with the old coffee bar having the till at the top of the L, while in the new coffee bar, a pair of tills occupy the full width of the bottom of the L.

There are other changes too: the branding has undergone a complete makeover from the signs hanging from the rafters to the logo on the retail bags of coffee. The menu board has had an upgrade, with a dedicated board, with different coffee origins picked out in orange, replacing the chalk menu written on the cupboard doors. And the old La Marzocco Strada espresso machine has made way for the top-of-the-range KB90.

That said, when it comes to what really matters, the coffee, little has changed. George Howell still offers the Alchemy blend on espresso (recommended for milk-based drinks), along with a single-origin alternative for black drinks (Matalapa from El Salvador during my visit). These are joined by a pair of single-origins on pour-over (Bukeye from Burundi and Soledad Gesha from Guatemala), another on batch brew (Daterra, Brazil) and a final one on iced batch brew (Inza, Colombia).

On my first visit, a pair of Marco Beverage Systems SP9s had just been installed, but not plumbed in, so I opted for espresso instead. The SP9s survived the move across the aisle, now making all the pour-overs using the Chemex. I had a cortado, the staff recommending the Alchemy blend, while Amanda went for a pour-over, selecting the Bukeye.

In pre-COVID times, my cortado (like my espresso from my original visit) would have been served in a proper cup, but now everything is in disposable cups only. We both transferred our drinks to our reusable cups, then headed across the road to enjoy them in the sun. My cortado was gorgeous, coffee and milk combining for classic notes of chocolate and nut. Meanwhile, Amanda loved the fruity notes of the Bukeye, so much so that we returned the following day to a buy a retail bag.

There’s a full write-up of George Howell in the Boston Public Market, including a complete gallery, in its main entry. You can also see what I made of it in my original write-up, from February 2016.

BOSTON PUBLIC MARKET • 100 HANOVER ST • BOSTON • MA 02108 • USA +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

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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