It is a truth universally acknowledged that college kids f***ing love cafés. On College Hill, the go-tos are Blue State, with its politically infused snark and really quite fabulous coffee, and… Starbucks (wooo?!). Then there’s Coffee Exchange down on Wickenden, with its postered walls, warm lighting, and hipster baristas (who, by the way, are not shy with the whipped cream: major plus). But The Edge, Wayland Square’s resident coffee shop, slips under the radar for many of us.
This is a really, really superb spot to load up on caffeine. They serve Intelligentsia Coffee, a Chicago-based brand that’s known for its direct-trade initiative and consistent ranking on national best-of lists. Black Cat, Intelligentsia’s claim to fame, is an espresso blend that’s about the closest coffee comes to ambrosia. It’s well-balanced, with the best qualities of tangy, lighter espressos and the more bitter, chocolaty varieties. If coffee drinks aren’t your thang, please understand that you must have the chai. It’s not as spicy as some other versions, but it’s got an addictive, honeyed sweetness and a powerful kick of cinnamon. It will come back in its next life in the form of a buttercream frosting, and oh, how happy the world will be then.
The granola is also worthy of a schmaltzy sonnet or eight. The stuff is crack. It’s baked in butter but gracefully avoids greasiness, and white sesame seeds are life-affirming little whispers amidst almonds, toasted coconut, sunflower seeds, and raisins. The whole thing is like sunshine, or at the very least like brain food on ecstasy.
There’s also a food menu, with breakfast wraps, cold sandwiches, and paninis in addition to standard pastry fare. The sandwiches aren’t anything special, but they make a good snack after you’ve plop down to work at one of the roomy tables or the countertop by the windows. Try the romesco wrap, which bundles together scrambled eggs, mushrooms, spinach, Swiss cheese, and a special sauce of hazelnut and roasted red pepper (sounds weird; tastes delicious).
High: You could close your eyes and pick a drink here at random: from espresso to chai, loose tea to peppermint white mocha, it’s hard to go wrong. Also: granola. Here, it loses its association with grueling hikes and cardboard, taking a turn instead towards the enlightening.
Low: Spotty service: one barista somehow turned a request for espresso con panna into an incredibly awkward situation. It’s espresso with whipped cream, not a firstborn child. Don’t look so offended. (Another barista, meanwhile, was sunny and wonderful.) And the 6pm closing time seriously inhibits late night studying aspirations, so make the trek during daylight.
Bottom line: Park yourself down with a sweet painted mug that runneth over with toasty coffee bliss. The Edge is a sunny, spacious place to do work, catch up with a friend, or lend a change of scenery to your normal coffee dates.