Yelp Reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/starbucks-somerville-5
Location: In the heart of Davis Square, Starbucks is popular with Tufts undergrads, grad students, and Somervillians. It is one block from the Davis Square T. Street parking is reasonable (though the meters go until 8pm).
Food and/or Drink: Come here for brewed coffee, reserve coffee (on the Clover), espresso drinks, seasonal espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, iced teas, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, pastries, cake pops, snack boxes, Izze sodas, chocolate milk, cookies, and mixed nuts. My favorite drinks: iced unsweetened passion tea, iced green tea latte. If I go back on coffee, my favorite will be the Guatemala Santa Catalina Antigua reserve blend. If it’s cold outside: tall decaf pumpkin latte. I’m not a big fan of the food, but if I had to get something, it would be the bacon gouda breakfast sandwich.
Table Space: There is a variety of seating type here: one long table down the middle, a high table with bar stools next to the baristas, small square tables near the front, four comfy chairs, a bar with barstools along the window, and a small corner with bench seats by the door. The long table is the best for doing work because you can fit a laptop, drink, and papers in your table space, and you have proximity to outlets. I would choose the comfy chairs next, followed by the bench seats, barista bar, small table, and window bar. The small tables and window bar have enough space for a laptop and a drink, and it’s difficult to fit papers as well.
Ease of Finding a Seat: During the school year, it is very difficult to find a spot with good table space and outlet proximity after 10:00 a.m. on the weekends. Weekday evenings can be crowded with students doing homework as well.
Atmosphere: There is free wifi, but it can get slow. The music is quite commercial. If you are there on a weekend morning, hordes of hungover students will wander in seeking coffee. If you are there late on a weekend afternoon, you may encounter couples trying to impress each other on first dates. The bathroom has only two stalls and can get dingy by the end of the day. However, it has an Xcelerator hand dryer (my favorite).
Yelp Reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/iyo-cafe-somerville
Location: In the heart of Davis Square, iYo is popular with Tufts undergrads, grad students, and Somervillians. It is a few blocks from the Davis Square T. Street parking is reasonable (though the meters go until 8pm).
Food and/or Drink: Come ready for self-serve froyo or waffles and toppings (priced by weight). There are twelve flavors of froyo on tap, and each set of two can be served as a twist. My favorite right now: sea salt caramel + original tart + strawberry topped with strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries with a tiny center of cookie dough, caramel and whipped cream. For those who adore candy toppings, there are a ton. I have not yet tried the waffles but they look just as delicious as any brunch place can offer. The coffee and espresso are by Barrington and there are MEM teas. Other beverages include chai tea, milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, San Pellegrino,and Spindrift sodas. There is a small array of baked goods.
Table Space: The front tables are small and circular. These are best for socialization and not work because of lack of table surface area and outlets. Lesson planning or grading goes much better on the rectangular tables along the wall. These tables have outlets (on the bench seats). Two people with laptops coexist comfortably on one of the rectangular tables. If working with a group of 3+, combine two or more rectangular tables.
Ease of Finding a Seat: It is fairly easy to find a rectangular table except during the Tufts undergrad froyo rush times. The turnover is pretty quick though.
Atmosphere: There is free wifi. The music varies a lot (it’s based on staff iPods and iPhones). Clientele can get loud and squawky, but there’s enough quiet time that it all balances out. The AC is cranked high in the summer and the lights sometimes get dim. One wall is exposed brick, and there’s track lighting and cool looking spherical pendant lamps. The two bathrooms in the back are decent.
2012 is becoming the year of the numerical food blog posts. I’ve already completed 4 of 52+ new-to-me recipes from my favorite food websites, cookbooks and recommendations from others. I have planned my first of 12 dinner parties (a January 29th taco night with friends). That covers a lot of the “appetite” aspect of this blog, but not the “appetite” + “instruction.”
Given how much coffee and food I consume during grading tests, quizzes and projects, I have decided to start another series: coffee-grading. As much as I love my condo, sometimes I prefer to do work at coffee shops. A latte, some Icelandic electropop, and a wooden table can motivate me to finish my work faster in a comfier environment than my classroom. I am also not tempted to nap on any coffee shop couches (as I would be on my own). The next time you’re at your favorite coffee shop, look around for math tests, red pens, and rubrics among the sea of MacBooks…teachers are everywhere!
For this series, I’ll write short reviews of my favorite spots around the Somerville, Boston and Cambridge areas with respect to location, food/drink, table space, ease of finding a seat, and atmosphere.
Location: Near the Boston Common, Thinking Cup is popular with tourists and college students from nearby Emerson and Suffolk. It’s easy to get to from the Park St or Downtown Crossing T stations. Street parking is difficult.
Food and/or Drink: Excellent. For food, I recommend the peppercorn turkey sandwich, roast beef sandwich, goat cheese, apricot and arugula sandwich, and mini cheesecake. For drink, I recommend the Americano, honey cinnamon latte (pictured below), and watermelon lime cooler (seasonal).
Table Space: All the tables are tiny. They’re made for up to two people at most, though I’ve seen groups of four crowd around them. You could do lesson planning on the computer or grade papers, but not both at the same time. Two teachers and their laptops could not coexist on the same table unless both had teeny tiny netbooks or were okay with perching the laptops halfway off the table.
Ease of Finding a Seat: Bring out your vulture skills, it’s like Wrentham Village parking lot on Black Friday in here. The central location and proximity to landmarks causes a huge influx of tourists on weekends, especially on nice days. You’ll likely have to put away your Bostonian anti-social face and make friends with a stranger just to get a seat. Luckily, most people are not aiming to set up shop with a computer and work for multiple hours.
Atmosphere: The music varies from downtempo to techno, and the lights sometimes get dim. The playlist is punctuated by many different languages and conversation topics. Try to avoid sitting by the door in the winter, as the constant influx of cold air can interrupt your work groove.