Where would Boston technology be without coffee? Could our current and former technologists have created the telephone, venture capitalism, the Harvard Mark, the PDP-1, Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3, or Facebook without coffee? Okay, the later might have been been more Red Bull and beer, but you get the sentiment. ;)
A good tech coffee shop should be located in close proximity to startups, be frequented by diverse members of our community, have seating available most times of day, and have good Wifi. Oh, and it helps if they actually have a good cup of coffee too.
Here are the top 5 coffee shops in Boston for the tech crowd.
#1 - Voltage (Kendall Square)
While Voltage is on the other side of the river for me (a.k.a. the Rubicon), it remains my top pick for tech coffee shop. I may have transacted more business at Voltage than anywhere else in Boston. The staff is friendly, the drink excellent, and there is a table to be found most times of the day. The close proximity of startups, VCs, and MIT makes it likely you will run into someone you know. Insider tip: skip the coffee and try a hot chocolate this winter.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-7 pm, Sat 9 am-7 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (Kendall)
#2 - Flour (Fort Point)
We need to cross back to my side of the river for the next top coffee shop: Flour. If Voltage is known for its drink, Flour is known for its food. My arteries harden a little each time I look at the sweet and savory goods behind their glass counter. Being in the heart of the Innovation District, Flour attracts a distinctly tech crowd, has available seating most times of the day, and is a great place for breakfast or lunch too. It also has the added benefit of being a block from my office. Two insider tips: try the oatmeal, and the Wifi password is “6173384333”.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-8 pm, Sat 9 am-5 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (South Station)
#3 - Crema Cafe (Harvard Square)
I don’t find myself in the Harvard Square area much these days, but when I do, I always use Crema as my office. Nestled in the center of Harvard Square, this has been a high tech hot spot for years. While you’d think the two floors would make for ample seating, one downside is it tends to get crowded quickly. But if you arrive early and have a little patience, you’ll be able to find seating for you and your guest(s). Inside tip: try the grilled cheese and whoopie pies (but preferably not in the same day).
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-9 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am-9 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (Harvard)
#4 - The Greenway (Atlantic Avenue)
This “coffee shop” stretches about a mile, is usable only in warm weather months, has a very wide selection of food and drink (via food trucks), and has free Wifi. While this is not a coffee shop at all, it is a great place to meet people for a cup of coffee. Each section of the Greenway has something different to offer, from the open cafe feel of Dewey Square, to the gardens of Fort Point, to the fitness focused Wharf, to the trellises and European feel of the North End. Last summer I often packed my laptop, grabbed a cup of tea at a truck, and spent an hour or so working at one of the tables on the Greenway. The Wifi is surprisingly good the entire stretch. Insider tip: go to Dewey Square, grab a cup from the Coffee Trike, and sit at a table in the garden by the mural.
Hours: see food truck schedule, Wifi: free, Transit: Red, Blue and Orange lines
#5 - Diesel Cafe (Davis Square)
As much as I complain about the pay per hour Wifi, I still make Diesel my Davis Square office. Diesel is a coffee shop with an edge, located in the center of the bustling Davis Square, directly across the street from Starbucks. The location attracts a mix of hipsters and entrepreneurs, and is the only coffee shop on my list with pool tables. Seating can be a problem at some times during the day, so you might want to arrive a little early for meetings. Hint: bring your own internet connectivity, because their Wifi policy is straight out of 2004.
Hours: Mon-Fri 6 am-11 pm, Sat-Sun 7 am-11 pm, Wifi: paid (!), Transit: Red Line (Harvard)
I like to think that a great coffee shop is just an extension of my office. I use coffee shops for meeting new people, catching up with former colleagues, decompressing during a stressful day, and sometimes just for a change of scenery. With room for only 5 in my list, I have overlooked many other great locations. But if you are near one of these shops, I highly recommend you stop in, grab a cup, open the MacBook, and listen to the sights and sounds of Boston high tech.