George Howell Coffee Now Soft Open in Newtonville

Local coffee legend George Howell returns to his coffee shop roots.


A peek inside George Howell Coffee Company in Newtonville, which was previously called Taste. (Photo courtesy of George Howell)

When it comes to all things coffee, the local authority is none other than George Howell, whose chainlet of Coffee Connection shops helped shape Boston’s coffee culture in the 90s. Howell sold his shops then to Starbucks, and went into wholesaling—you may recognize his artisan Terrior beans from restaurants and bakeries all over town, which come from his coffee roasting and education center in Acton.

Last year, Howell decided to get back into the retail game and purchased Taste, a casual cafe in Newtonville. The spot has now gotten an entire coffee geek overhaul—complete with a new name, George Howell Coffee—and is currently in its soft opening. In addition to a large range of retail bags of Terrior coffees and special edition roasts, Howell told me recently that there will also be lots of coffee brewed with by-the-cup methods like Chemex, Siphon and Aeropress (unfamiliar? brush up here).

One thing Howell does assert, however, is that drip coffee is just as viable a method for brewing as the fancier versions above. “Some poeple have the perception that urn coffee is not as good as hand drip, and that is hogwash,” Howell says. “When you set the machine properly and you have a good one and the right proportions, a machine drip is extraordinarily consistent and excellent in its ability to extract coffee.” Point taken!

Whether you take your coffee by-the-cup or from an urn, Howell does want emphasis more on the his beans—he’s known for advocating a lighter roast of coffee. As a result, he’ll be periodically offering side-by-side coffee tastings at the coffee shop. While the emphasis at George Howell Coffee is “100% on the coffee,” Howell says, there will still be light fare breakfast panini and crepes stuffed with fillings like figs and brie, pears and goat cheese, and greek yogurt and honey.

As for those who can’t head out to Newtonville anytime soon: Howell says that he’s looking to open more locations, including one in Boston.

(George Howell Coffee, 311 Walnut Street, Newtonville, 617-332-6886)

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