I have a soft spot for Intelligentsia, a Chicago institution for more than 20 years, where I took some of my earliest steps in speciality coffee, long before I even knew what it was. Intelligentsia has been slowly expanding across the USA, with shops in Los Angeles, New York City and Austin. Now it’s reached New England with two Boston locations, one in Watertown and this one, right in the heart of the downtown on Post Office Square.
Occupying a large counter at the back of the lobby of office building 225 Franklin Street, the coffee bar has a fairly standard Intelligentsia offering, with the familiar Black Cat espresso blend joined by a seasonal guest and decaf, while for filter coffee, there are two options on pour-over and one on batch brew. This is backed up by a range of Kilogram Tea, plus cakes and pastries from The Danish Pastry House. You can sit at the coffee bar, at one of three window tables or take your coffee and find a seat in the lobby.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Intelligentsia coffee bar opened in 2018, reopening in September 2021, having been closed during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s located in the right-hand half of the lobby of the office building 225 Franklin Street, effectively a glass-walled extension to the building’s ground floor. The lobby’s own seating, a pleasant mix of tables in the windows with comfy seats and sofas at the back, is off to the left. Although technically not part of Intelligentsia, no-one will object if you take your coffee over and grab a seat.
The coffee bar is at the back, with a dedicated seating area to the right, where three narrow two-person tables act as window-bars. One is at the front, to the right of the door, while two more run down the right-hand side, one of which has a pair of tall stools. A large, open space between the rotating door and the front of the coffee bar means that customers just coming for coffee and people coming in/out of the office building don’t get in each other’s way.
If you don’t fancy the windows, you can sit at the coffee bar itself. This consists of a wide counter at the front (where you order/collect your coffee), with an L-shaped extension running back from the left-hand side and across behind the counter. There are four tall stools down the left and another four at the back, ideal if you like watching baristas at work. Together these effectively form an island counter (although it’s not a true island since it’s against the right-hand wall), the baristas working in the centre of the space.
The offering is very familiar if you know Intelligentsia. On espresso, the ubiquitous Black Cat blend is joined by a seasonal option (the Sugar Glider blend during my visit) and decaf. Meanwhile, there are two pour-over options (the Illumination blend and a single-origin) plus a daily batch brew for filter. I was tempted by the Sugar Glider, which offers a lighter body compared to Black Cat, but not having had Black Cat in over three years, I thought it was time to revisit it, ordering a cappuccino to start my day. It was as pleasing as ever, the coffee coming strongly through the perfectly-steamed milk, which held its latte art to the bottom of the cup. With that, I was set up for the rest of my day in Boston.
|225 FRANKLIN STREET • BOSTON • MA 02110 • USA|
|www.intelligentsia.com||+1 857 707 3377|
|Monday||07:30 – 15:00||Roaster||Intelligentsia (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 15:00||Seating||Window-bars, Counter|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 15:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 15:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 15:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Chain||National||Visits||2nd May 2022|
You can also see what I made of the other Intelligentsia locations that I’ve visited.
Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of Boston’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Boston & Cambridge.
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