It has been a tiring search. Good coffee in Boston is hard to find, and I was feeling a little defeated. There are plenty of cafes that serve above-average bean, but the third wave coffee scene hasn’t quite infiltrated Boston yet. I haven’t see the passion or the innovation I saw in Berlin. Until now.
Gracenote’s coffee is phenomenal. After opening shop just over a month ago, they’ve developed a dedicated following of lovers of the art. Their space is small and simple and indicative of the reason you’re there — for the coffee.
The man behind the bean is Patrick Barter. He began roasting from his home back in 2012, and since then has created one of the region’s most talked about products. Gracenote Coffee Roasters was born out of a home-made roasting machine, and Patrick began selling it at local farmers’ markets. Word spread, and so did Patrick’s distribution.
Through this process he met Alessandro Bellino, or San, as he prefers. San was operating a coffee trike at the time, using Gracenote beans to provide the city with its caffeine fix. Earlier this year, the pair decided to open an espresso bar in downtown Boston. Thank god they did.
We arrived on a Saturday when most of the city is a ghost town. I was excited. San poured my flat white and I watched the milk — milk bearing that perfect ‘wet paint’ consistency — melt into the crema of the espresso. It was perfect. The cortado was also perfect. The caffeine was smooth and velvety; the milk was hot but not burnt. The art of espresso-based drinks takes a long time to master, but these guys have conquered it.
The gorgeous wooden bench, the colourful artisan crockery, and the cozy corner of bakery items add subtle touches to a simple space. We chatted with San for a while and he told us about the public cupping they were holding the next day. Of course we would attend.
Tasting coffee is an attentive and experimental process. There’s slurping. There’s spitting. There are several techniques used to experience each blend of coffee. Patrick taught us about the beans, how they grew, and where they came from. We were told what kind of notes to look for with each sip.
“Coffee has notes. We taste plum, or caramel, or jasmine, or peach, or whatever. We also taste coffee.” And so we did.
The cupping went for about an hour, during which we met Chris, scientist and author of the book Water for Coffee. He assisted Gracenote with the installation of their water systems, and he provided a little test for us all: one blend of coffee brewed two ways — once with water from Boston and another with water Cambridge. The results were shocking.
We left Gracenote buzzing, with a bag of Ethiopian Misty Valley (the favourite of the day) and plenty more knowledge about what’s needed to create the perfect cup. Gracenote Coffee is not only the best I’ve found in Boston, but possibly the entire country. You can bet we’ll be back.
For information on future public cuppings, head to Gracenote’s website: www.gracenotecoffee.com
Gracenote Coffee can be found at 108 Lincoln St, Boston, MA 02111.