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.
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|
|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
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