Café Fixe [Boston]

Last weekend, I found myself on business in Boston and staying with friends not far from Washington Square. It was a perfect opportunity to visit Café Fixe, which I’d heard good things about (here, for example). There was no time to schlep to barismo or check out other recommended shops in the area, so I took advantage and got my Fixe twice.

Café Fixe’s website is curiously uninformative, but never fear: I took pics. Let’s start with the coffee. Here’s what was on the menu (roasters: Barrington and Novo):

The “drip” option was batch-brewed, I assume (saw someone walk out with a cup of it), though I didn’t take note of what gear was used to make and serve it. For “pourover” Café Fixe relies on Clever drippers. And for espresso, there’s the beautiful Mirage that you see below.

My first visit was early p.m. on Sat. I ordered a macchiato pulled with Novo’s Anyetsu Espresso and a Clever brew of their Papua New Guinea. The owner of the shop (Maks Milstein, I gather, based on reviews I’ve read elsewhere) was on bar, and the macchiato he handed me (pictured) was excellent, a perfect little dance of fruit and creamy chocolate. I enjoyed the PNG also but found it a bit thin-bodied and, thus, wasn't wowed.

My second visit was bright and early Sun. at around 8 a.m., 30 minutes after the shop had opened. There was a decent line since just one employee was handling both the register and the bar. Relief arrived in the form of a second employee to work the register just before I made it to the front. I only mention this because it might be relevant concerning why the macchiato I ordered this time didn’t turn out quite as delicious (different barista + under pressure/time constraints). It was still “correct,” as they say, but brighter and less balanced. One friend who’d been with me both times had the same impression. Regardless, we left happy.

About equipment, Café Fixe had 3 grinders going that I saw: a Mazzer Mini IIRC and two Anfim Caimanos. There was also a milk tower, for lack of a better word, that the baristas used to dispense milk straight into their steaming pitchers.

About the space, itself, I really liked how open it felt. The espresso bar formed a little “L,” the bottom of which you can barely make out in the last pic. In the foregound is a condiment station, and to the right (not visible) is where you leave your dishes.

Aside: one of the reasons I’ve heard a local café refer to in explaining why they add milk and sugar for their customers instead of letting them add it themselves is that the owner doesn’t want the baristas to have to go out of their way to keep the condiment station clean. The layout at Café Fixe solves this problem, allowing baristas full access to the station just a few steps away from the Mirage.

In a nutshell, I was impressed with this place and would absolutely recommend it. Thumbs up!

p.s. If you like Indian food, there’s a fantastic restaurant called Tamarind Bay right across the street.

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