Coffee and high tech have had a symbiotic relationship since the beginning of the computer age. Boston high tech is of course no exception, with Google Maps listing over 6,000 coffee shops in the local area. But we all know coffee shops are not equal: some are more likely to attract the high tech crowd than others.
Below is the top 5 coffee shops in the Boston area, rated based on their perceived attraction to the high tech community. Additional criteria we considered include convenient location, seating, and ability to hold a private conversation.
#1 - Voltage(Kendall Square)
Voltage in Kendall Square is our unquestionable top pick for high tech coffee shops. Their slogan says it all: “Inspired. Totally Wired”. In addition to being one of the only coffee shops with venture backing (LaunchCapital, $150K in 2010), it also has become a hot spot for the local high tech scene. On any given day, you may see people from TechStars, Project 11, RSA Labs, or any one of the many startups in the area. While there is not much on the menu, there is always plenty of seating for meetings. Insider tip: don’t miss their toast with cinnamon & sugar.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-7 pm, Sat 9 am-7 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (Kendall)
#2 - Crema Cafe (Harvard Square)
The ongoing construction has not had an impact on the popularity of Crema Cafe. Nestled in the bustling Harvard Square, this has been a high tech hot spot for several years. Rob Go listed Crema Cafe as a favorite hang out for Eric Paley (Founders Collective), Antonio Rodriguez (Matrix), and Rich Miner (Google Ventures). I’ll confess to having seen both Eric and Antonio on my last two visits, making me suspect they are renting office space at the cafe. The only downside is finding a table - so if you meet here, arrive early.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-9 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am-9 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (Harvard)
#3 - Diesel Cafe(Davis Square)
In the center of Davis Square is the bustling Diesel, which is both a coffee shop and breakfast destination. The existence of a Starbucks directly across the street has done nothing to detract from this shop’s high tech credentials. Eugene Kuznetsov suggested someone should do a PhD study on these two coffee shops, since each is busy but attracts very different customers (hint: button down shirts and jackets go to Starbucks). The location attracts a mix of both David Square hipsters and entrepreneurs. You may also see agile advocate and my former Easel manager, Jeff Sutherland, around the neighborhood. The only downside to Diesel is its last decade policy on wifi.
Hours: Mon-Fri 6 am-11 pm, Sat-Sun 7 am-11 pm, Wifi: paid (!), Transit: Red Line (Harvard)
#4 - Bean Towne Cafe (Kendall Square)
The proximity and campus-like feel of One Kendall Square has made it a high tech hot spot for as long as I have lived in the local area. Bean Towne Cafe is a small but popular meeting spot for this area of Cambridge. While the location has limited seating, its proximity makes it convenient. Back in the dot-com days, I remember the coffee shop being rented out for recruiting events, with companies offering free coffee to technical professionals. If you meet here a little later in the day, you can move across the way to the Cambridge Brewing Company for a micro brew.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-5 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: Red Line (Kendall)
#5 - Pete’s Coffee (Lexington)
Some day a restaurant entrepreneur will recognize the opportunity for a high tech coffee shop in the Waltham area. Until then, those of us beltway boys are going to Pete’s. Its location on Mass. Ave is adjacent to a Starbucks, always ensuring you can get a table if you arrive during a high traffic hour. Insider tip: three electrical plugs can be found in the three corners of the seating area.
Hours: Mon-Thu 6 am-8 pm, Fri 6 am-9 pm, Sat 6:30 am-9 pm, Sun 7 am-8 pm, Wifi: free, Transit: none
I imagine Charles Babbage had a cup of coffee at his side while tinkering with the first mechanical programmable computer in the 1830s. Or maybe he didn’t, thus explaining his failure to get a fully functioning version of his design. We hope you take advantage of our local high tech coffee hot spots, and let us know if you think we missed any.
For anyone who feels the list is Cambridge-centric, I can only say: welcome to Boston high tech.
Special thanks to Scott Loring and Adam Berrey for their support with this post. Additional locations worth mentioning include: Pete’s in Harvard Square, Starbucks in the Cambridge Marriott, and Back Bay’s L’Aroma. Also, for a power meeting and breakfast, consider Henrietta's Table, where in addition to its usual clientele, you may see the regulars from the nearby General Catalyst.