I’m just going to have to deal with it: Michael Thomas Coffee is no longer my neighborhood’s sweet little secret. For years, the shop has been housed in a tiny converted garage on a mostly residential stretch of Carlisle between Central and Gibson. The way I heard the story, the business wasn’t meant to be a coffee shop – it was intended as a boutique coffee roaster that would supply its beans to restaurants. But residents of the surrounding neighborhood kept smelling the roasting beans and pounding on the door asking for coffee… and a local favorite was born.
For the record, Michael Thomas does supply its fantastic, hand-roasted beans to local restaurants. Two standouts are Jennifer James 101 and Hartford Square. They supply my house, as well. The beans here are fresh and beautifully roasted, just so good that if we can’t get MT coffee beans – if, for instance, they are taking their yearly Christmas break and we forgot to stock up – we’ll just do without rather than get coffee beans anywhere else. (The Plain James blend is unbeatable.)
The hip, crowded, beloved Carlisle location remains open, and the careful hand-roasting still happens there, but this month Michael Thomas spread its wings and opened a second location in Nob Hill, on Silver between Wellesley and Bryn Mawr. (The street address is on Bryn Mawr, but you can also enter off of Silver.) This up-and-coming block boasts Limonata Caffe and P’tit Louis Bistro, as well as an elegant little tea shop called The Fragrant Leaf and a number of other local businesses.
We walked down there on the new location’s opening weekend to check it out, and were delighted by what we found.
The new shop is gorgeous. Where the Carlisle spot is crowded and quirky, the Bryn Mawr location is airy and bright. A long, bar-like table looks out a garage-style door – open to the breeze when we visited – onto the front patio, where a couple of tables are shaded by umbrellas. Inside, there are a good number of small tables, and even a cozy semi-private room with a table large enough to play games on, separated from the main room by white French doors.
Continuing into the space, we passed a small counter with a contraption like an elaborate still: This is a setup for making “mizudashi,” a Japanese style of cold brew. I need to try it sometime, if just to see them work the machinery!
Honestly, we rarely order a drink at Michael Thomas: We usually buy beans and drink the free cup of coffee that comes with each pound. But as I was looking at stories online about Michael Thomas and its expansion, I kept seeing praises for the shop’s Maple Bacon Latte.
How could we resist? I mean, if a maple-bacon doughnut is good – and it is – how could you miss with a Maple Bacon Latte?
The iced mocha was quite nice, though it seemed a little out of place in a mug. But the Maple Bacon Latte was a revelation. I had expected an over-the-top concoction, big on sweetness and smoke, more of a novelty than anything. But this drink was perfectly balanced, not too sweet and with just a hint of smoke, rich and smooth. And somehow the whole piece of bacon adorning the mug stayed crisp despite its long latte bath!
After we finished our drinks and lingered a while, we went out through the exit onto Silver. I highly recommend coming and going this way, as it takes you through a lovely private courtyard complete with brick walk, fountain (though I don’t think it was running), flower borders, and tables with shade umbrellas. What a lovely spot in which to linger!
There is even a tiny public meditation garden off the courtyard. Which leaves me wondering which is better: to meditate with a coffee buzz, or to meditate and then chase away that pesky Zen calm with a nice espresso shot? It will take wiser minds than mine to solve that puzzle. What I know for sure, though, is that Michael Thomas has itself a perfect spot here, and I aim to make good use of it.