Generally — and here is where I am going to sound like a snob — I am not all that impressed whenever publications come out with “Boston’s Best” lists because, well, let’s be honest: it’s generally the same places and faces that make it every time. I’m not saying anything to bash the restaurants or bars, because I do firmly believe Boston has an outstanding restaurant scene and a wealth of choices. I’m more interested in what’s new and the story behind the place’s creation, so I generally flip ahead to those parts of an article.
In this case, it was the Improper Bostonian’s July 6-26, 2011 “Boston’s Best” issue and page 48 that caught my attention (the larger bold print also kind of helped). I dog-tagged the page after reading the brief description of how the owner created the coffee shop, Voltage Coffee & Art, in Kendall Square as a “remember to come back to this” reminder. A couple of days later, my husband thumbed through the magazine and agreed that we should check it out someday.
We decided to check it out last Saturday after waking up fairly early that morning, and before meeting some friends for dim sum later that day. It’s located in Kendall Square in Cambridge with ample metered parking spaces all around. As you can probably tell by the pics, I love the decor and big open space. Aside from offering a menu of intriguing lattes, the cafe provides wall space to up-and-coming artists to showcase their work. The back of the cafe (including the bathroom) has walls painted different colors and plenty of table seating.
I think the hardest part was trying to pick one of the exotic flavored latte concoctions to try. My husband picked the “Devil May Care” which was made with molasses and lemon zest. For me it was a tie between “The Eclipse” which was made with a coconut and ginger simple syrup, or the “Beyond the Sea” which was made with homemade caramel and salt. I went with “The Eclipse”, as well as a little plain croissant. I convinced him to get the doughnut muffin (mostly because I wanted to try it too) and we managed to get a seat by the front window.
Oh and I forgot to mention that the owner helped us at the counter with our order. She was super cool. I mean, you know, not one of those people who seem pompous in any way – she didn’t boast this attitude like, “I’m the owner”. She was very patient with us as we gawked at the menu and gave us a little bit of insight on how newcomers generally start at the bottom of the latte list with something a little less risky like the “Atticus Finch” made with vanilla and burnt sugar. The stamper in me got giddy when she stamped our order tickets with an image that matched the icons on the menu (so cool!).
Eight ounces seems like the perfect size for a latte, and of course the beautiful milk foam art work on top was a nice touch. Neither of us felt like we had to add sugar to our lattes but we both agreed that the flavors were a lot subtler than we had anticipated. I definitely tasted the lemon zest in his latte (and ate a couple too); he could taste the ginger in mine more than I could. But the good thing for newcomers to know is that the flavors aren’t overpowering in any way, so it would be good to experiment and try different creations because the flavor of the espresso and steamed milk come through. I think next time I’m definitely going to try the “Beyond the Sea”.
It’s located near the Kendall Square T station and one thing to note is that they are closed on Sundays.
Voltage Coffee & Art
295 Third Street