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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Best Coffee Shops in Boston: Darwin’s Ltd


A caramel latte from Darwin’s Ltd.

Darwin’s Ltd on Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge is a small coffee shop near Harvard Square. It’s the epitome of a hipster coffee shop. When you first walk in, you are greeted by mix-matched edgy paints on the wall, as well as a stack of Scrabble and chess games that are available for play. The cafe is covered with art and colors of deep purple and sunset orange to provide a warm yet “out-there” tone. The “coffee shop” half of Darwin’s is connected by a doorway to the “deli” half, where the shelves are full of random deli items—mostly organic and natural foods, as well as locally grown produce.

But in this coffee shop, where college students and young professionals seem to sit so quietly, hunched and cross-legged over their laptops—probably writing literature essays—music is playing by the Lightning Bolt, a noise rock band from the early 2000s. “Yeah, they’re weird, but they’re good,” the barista said as he stroked his neatly trimmed beard with his head slightly tilted to the side.

KASSA: The barista at the coffee shop front counter greets you with a confident kind of nonchalance, a Radiohead t-shirt, and tousled hair. Not to mention the level of intellect and passion the baristas had for a cortado, which I learned is a concentrated version of a regular latte: less steamed milk and more espresso. “If you’re more sophisticated, you’ll like a cortado,” an employee at the deli said. “Yeah, I like to actually taste the espresso,” the employee’s coworker said. And I do have to say, it was flavorful: you can still taste the roasted espresso beans.

HALE: After ordering a medium hot latte with caramel, I was surprised that this shop had the syrups out for customers to flavor their own coffee. So, you can put in as little or as much as you want. Best part? You’re not charged an extra 75 cents for a flavor. The coffee was classically delicious. The flavor was great—nothing above or below your typical high-end coffee shop, I would say. They serve Square One coffee, which is originally based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  

With a 4.4 rating on Yelp and over 200 reviews, there’s no doubt that Darwin’s Ltd is good for a reason: the staff is friendly and down to earth, and the shop has a comfortable, home-like atmosphere with its colorful walls and tall green plants. But their options don’t just limit you to their fine sandwiches, desserts, and coffee, shipped from a small family-owned business. The Mt. Auburn store also offers retail options of fine wine, kombucha, hard cider, craft beer, and various snacks.

The sandwiches are just as good as their coffee. At the “deli” side of the store, you can choose from an array of cleverly named sandwiches. We decided to split the Mount Auburn sandwich, a hearty one, comparable to Lebron James’ shoe size. Piled on our choice of bread, a ciabatta roll, with a local, antibiotic-free, applewood-smoked turkey, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and herb vinaigrette. The sandwich was perfectly paired with a pickle and a bag of their displayed Cape Cod potato chips.

As college students, if you decide to go there, the WiFi password is one with the same nonchalance but charming pretentiousness that the barista had: “sandwich.”