George Howell Coffee Is Now Open at the Godfrey Hotel

The pioneering Massachusetts roaster's third café is a sophisticated espresso bar, retail shop, and education center.

George Howell Coffee at the Godfrey Hotel

George Howell Coffee at the Godfrey Hotel. / Photo provided

There’s a new downtown location for a quick, morning cortado, advice on recreating the perfect pourover at home, or for a relaxing post-Theater District dessert. George Howell Coffee Roasters officially opened its newest café in the Godfrey Hotel this morning.

The ground-level storefront, accessible from the hotel lobby and also from Washington Street, is stocked with packages of George Howell coffee beans, terroir-driven, single-origin selections roasted in Acton. It also has high-end coffee equipment, like glass Chemex brewers and Baratza grinders, on display and for sale. Later this summer, a moveable counter will allow in-store experts to guide customers on equipment usage and troubleshooting, and the coffeeshop will also host group education sessions, public tastings, cuppings, and demonstrations.

Of course, there’s also an espresso bar and hand-poured estate coffee, and later this summer, George Howell will introduce 4-ounce coffee “flights” and specialty coffee drinks. The Modbar is located underneath the counter, an unobstructed setup meant to encourage communication between customer and barista, and there are two espresso. The counters are granite-topped, and there are two communal tables, as well as bistro tables. The café seats 50.

“There’s a cultural element to this café,” Howell says. There are two, framed Huichol yarn paintings—the bright style will look familiar to anyone who frequented Howell’s original café empire, Coffee Connection—and also a large-format painting by local artist Lynette Shaw.

Huichol yarn paintings at George Howell Coffee

Huichol yarn paintings at George Howell Coffee. / Photo provided

George Howell Coffee offers house-made croissants, and other pastries from A & J King. The Salem bakery is also providing breads for breakfast sandwiches like egg frittata with roasted tomato, arugula, and aioli, with or without Chestnut Farms bacon, and lunch items like Wolf Meadow Farm grilled cheese, and beet, white hummus, and arugula. There are also seasonally rotating tartines, topped with sweets like maple butter or vanilla bean mascarpone, and savory preparations like avocado toast, and smoked salmon with crème Fraiche and shaved radish.

In the coming weeks, George Howell Coffee will expand its evening hours for theater attendees, concertgoers and diners looking for dessert and coffee; it will also add a range of French tarts and desserts from Praliné Artisanal Confections.

George Howell opened the Coffee Connection in Harvard Square in 1974, a trendsetting café that ushered in the so-called Third Wave of coffee, the movement toward artisan coffee and improved relationships between growers, traders, and roasters. He eventually opened 24 Coffee Connection shops, and invented the Frappuccino; in 1994, he sold that product and his company to Starbucks for $23 million in stock.

George Howell Coffee Roasters came onto the scene in 2004, to identify, source, and roast high-quality coffees. Its first café opened in Newtonville in 2012, and last year, George Howell became one of the inaugural tenants inside the Boston Public Market. The company is planning future coffeeshops in Cambridge, Somerville, and New York City, though Howell says there’s not movement on those frontiers just yet.

“We’re zeroing in on where we’d like to be,” he says. “I also want to see how the model works over the next few months, because like Coffee Connection, there are several innovations here… It emphasizes interaction between the staff and consumer.”

The Godfrey Hotel, which opened in February, will also be home to Ruka, a new concept from the team behind Yvonne’s. The modern Nikkai restaurant is slated for a fall 2016 opening.

George Howell Coffee is open at daily 6:30 a.m., and for now, it closes nightly at 8 p.m.

505 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, Boston,