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There’s nothing better than stepping into a cozy, welcoming café on a blustery, cold winter day. Warm air thaws windblown cheeks and frigid fingers. The smell of sweet pastries and buttery croissants linger in the air, and after only a few sips, piping hot coffee soothes from the inside out.
Cambridge’s cafes have perfected this cozy scene, and are fine places to escape the cold. Though there are many, here are four favorites:
Voltage Coffee and Art’s mantra, “Inspired. Totally wired,” says it all. Tender love and lots of time is put into every drink by friendly baristas, who have an obvious affection for their craft. Consider asking for a drink recommendation, or try my favorite, the robust macchiato. White walls are adorned with rotating art collections that showcase everything from bold murals of popular basketball players to reflective, abstract pieces. The modern space is rather large, and the ceiling to floor glass façade lets in an ample amount of light. Of course, Voltage Coffee is “totally wired,” too, so feel free to bring along work.
There are several popular Area Four eateries in the Cambridge area, including a hip café/bakery in Kendall Square. With sheer glass exterior walls, exposed piping, and cement floors, the Café’s décor is markedly chic and cool. Long communal tables, crafty coffee pot light fixtures, and chatty baristas add warmth to the industrial space. At Area Four, order a classic espresso or creamy latte along with a scrumptious, gooey sticky bun and join locals (primarily smarty-pants MIT students) at a boisterous, communal table.
Photo: Area Four Café Interior
A locals’ favorite and the coziest of the group, the two-decade-old 1369 Coffee House embodies a classic café. The bustling space is small with tight rows of chairs, and there’s a perpetual stream of university students, young families and bohemian wanderers. A giant colorful mural of the café prominently stands out. The thoughtful menu contains unique drinks, such as sweet Vietnamese Coffee (made with condensed milk) and Mexican Hot Chocolate, which are best complimented with buttery flakey croissants. There is another location in Inman Square too.
As the owner of the wildly successful Boston string of Flour Bakery and Cafés, Joanne Chang is a popular figure in the area. Flour’s mantra, “Make life sweeter…eat dessert first” is understandably popular as well! From gooey, rich homemade granola bars to beautiful fruit tarts, Flour’s pastry case is chock full of decadent delights. Complement dessert with a drip coffee and savory special of the day listed on the café’s chalkboard. On weekends, seats are hard to come by, so prepare for a wait.
Photo: Behind the counter at Flour Bakery and Café
Katherine Sazdanoff is a freelance travel writer and resident of Boston. On blustery winter days, you can find her sipping espresso at one of the cafes above. To chronicle her wanderlust adventures, visit her website at www.katherinesazdanoff.com.