The first day of spring was this past Saturday, meaning that it is a blustery 30 degrees in Cambridge when I set out to begin my day on Sunday afternoon. Still, it’s 90 degrees somewhere—more specifically, it’s 90 degrees in the exotic locales my classmates are returning from, as they climb off of airplanes sunburned and with an Instagram feed much sunnier than mine (the status of my bank account vehemently vetoed any kind of international or trans-coastal flight). Even though my credit card denied my immediate social media popularity, I’ve decided to opt for plastic, and not paper, in terms of my coffee cups, at least. Post-spring break equals iced coffee weather in my eyes, no matter how tall the snow piles still teeter in the Yard.
Put down the Board Plus (if you still, inexplicably, have any left; have you heard of a midterm?!), forget your Keurig, and spurn whatever sludge can be dug up from the dredges of the d-hall coffee canisters during Brain Break. FM brings you the best way to get the equivalent of a good night’s sleep through a straw for the effort of a few blocks and a few bucks.
1796 Massachusetts Ave
I venture just beyond the bounds of Harvard Square and into Porter for the first stop on my tour. Situated just a few blocks past the Quad on Mass Ave (see, newly quadded freshman? caffeine abounds beyond the river!), Bagelsaurus offers two of my favorite things: bagels, and dinosaurs, and, um, coffee, of course. Even though I’m pretty sure I share these loves with most of the residents of Cambridge, the small shop is eerily empty for 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I approach the counter anyway, where a bearded employee brusquely informs me, “We’re out of bagels,” and begins to turn away. I assume the usual reaction to this information is immediate egress on the part of the customer.
“Oh, that’s fine!” I chirp. “I’d like an iced coffee, please.” He eyes my puffy cheetah print jacket, bursting with a sweater and oversized scarf: clearly, I have asked for the wrong temperature beverage. I squint back at his knitted Bruins cap.
He shovels some ice into a cup, pours the coffee, and charges me $3.21. 3/21, of course, is the date of the first day of spring. I feel vindicated, and take this as an auspicious sign, like the caffeinated version of Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow. Or is it his lack of shadow? Either way, there are no groundhogs here, or bagels. Just...saurus, and iced coffee. I take my cup and sit at a blond wood bench. There’s no milk out, which is fine because I take my coffee black, like my soul. I scribble all of this down, while various beanied employees continue to turn away hungry Cantabridgians on quests for carbohydrates. The coffee is good, but I refrain from finishing the entire cup: I have to pace myself. By 2 p.m., it’s only me and the staff left in the shop. When they begin to empty the water cooler and garbage cans, I feel weird, and attempt to gracefully see myself out, oversized knitted layers and all.
Newly energized by both the coffee and the schadenfreude of watching Sunday brunchers being denied bagels, I make my way from Porter Square to Dwelltime, over by Central Square. It is suppose to take me 29 GMWM (Google Maps Walking Minutes), but I somehow don’t make it to the shop until 2:45, which I blame on the mellow guitar beats of my Ben Folds Pandora station.
Dwelltime lies down Broadway, several blocks past Broadway Market, and that Starbucks you go to only if you live in Dunster swing housing or have a section in CGIS. Despite its (relatively) distant location (from the Quad at least...sorry guys), I am rewarded with a pleasant sensation as soon as I enter the cafe: I fall in love.
If you are ever seeking the quaint hipster coffee shop of your dreams, Dwelltime is better than anything on your Tumblr dashboard. Customers wearing black pants, beanies, plaid shirts, or a combination of the three sit tapping at sleek chrome devices around a wooden bar, or at tables along the sides of the cafe. Most surfaces are adorned with tiny sprigs of purple flowers so cute you could scream (in case anyone asks, I didn’t, I think?). There is even a low table with red chairs for children. A girl sits at one, surrounded by fruit and pastries as she watches a video on what I assume is her personal iPad. I consider joining her, since I am on the shorter side and making my journey alone, but decide that that would be even weirder than sitting alone with an iced coffee at a bagel-less bagel shop.
I go to the counter and spontaneously order a quiche along with my coffee: there was no food to be had at my previous destination, and besides, I’m worth it. The iced coffee is served in a squat glass tumbler, and a teeny corner of the quiche is placed beside it on a square porcelain plate (total: $7.35. #worthit). I take a sip of the coffee as I search for a seat and oh my god this is the best coffee I have ever HAD. Maybe it was my hunger, or the cold, or the previous coffee on an empty stomach, but it is absolutely the most refreshing beverage I’ve drunk in a while. I exit my reverie to settle down at a long family-style table, and bite into the quiche. Any discomfort I feel joining two other lunching parties at the table dissipates; this quiche and this coffee are all the company I need. I am justified in joining a family-style table because I am joined by my significant consumable others. Do you ever get the feeling that something is so cute you just want to eat it? I do, and I did.
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
I float out of Dwelltime, sufficiently buzzed on my two coffees and somehow resisting the urge to order another quiche (I’m feeling monogamous). I head back to Mass. Ave. and go to Oggi’s, at the advice of a friend. It’s not the first place I would think of to enjoy a pleasant cup of iced coffee, as it’s more known for its food, but I’ve never had their brew and figure it’s worth a try.
The manic-pixie-dream-hipster-caffeine-cuteness-overload I experienced at Dwelltime is greatly diminished as soon as I enter the Smith Center; the concrete walkway always reminds me of the impending dread of visiting the doctor, or the shame of admitting you lost your I.D. card. The iced coffee, fittingly, is bitter, even when I consent to adding a bit of milk. It’s entirely possible that the coffee is great, but that I am not in the correct mood to enjoy it. At this point I have had three coffees in under two hours, walked in a circle around Cambridge in the cold, and experienced love at first sight (that is, bite); I’m pretty jittery, FM seems to stand for “Forever Manic,” and the Smith Center is harshing my vibe (I believe that is what the kids, such as the cool girl with the iPad, say these days).
I leave Oggi’s after just a few minutes, and try to decide what to do with my excess of energy. Perhaps I will channel it into a workout—but only to make room for some more beloved quiche.