When it comes to coffee shops in Beacon Hill, Starbucks reigns supreme. Everywhere you look, it’s hard to miss a mommy pushing a $700 stroller while toting an iced non-fat no whip latte. And while the infamous chain named after Moby Dick’s first mate definitely serves its place in the world (and manages to concoct some blended drinks that send us into ecstasy), what is a Beacon Hiller to do when searching for something a little different? Well, we must think outside the box. Or in this case, the cup.
Beacon Hill offers a few quality java stops that aren’t global mega-chains. At the bottom of Charles Street is uber-chic Panificio, a full service restaurant that doubles as a bakery and coffee shop. Since the Back Bay location on Mass Ave recently bit the dust, you’ll have to trek to the Hill for their delectable pizzas and coffee. A favorite with everyone from the Euro nightclub crowd to the bowtie clad, brownstone owning elders of the hill, Panificio offers everything from full plate meals to a simple cup of coffee.
Our favorite Beacon Hill coffee shop is Cafe Vanille, one of Charles Street’s best locations for delectable coffee drinks, smoothies, and pastries. It’s the only place we’ll drink the coffee black, because it lacks the bitter burnt taste often found at Starbucks. In addition to the variety of options for a quick bite, Cafe Vanille has one thing no other coffee shop on Beacon Hill possesses: Outdoor seating. It doesn’t get much better than kicking back with a friend under one of the cafe’s umbrellas. Well, unless you’re at an authentic patisserie on the Champs Elysees, and our piggy banks are a little empty for that.