I have to admit – although my love of tea is historic and maybe a little over-the-top, I hadn’t really gotten around to thinking of coffee as more than just fuel to keep me functional during the work day. This was especially true during my time working in New York – in order to survive a 2 1/2 hour door-to-door commute, I’d be down 2 cups by 10am.

It was this very reliance that actually inspired me to try and wean myself down from coffee and replace it with tea at least half the time. I finally was able to take a step down and enjoy coffee for more than just energy but as an experience all its own.

Thinking Cup is a fresh cafe franchise with two locations in Boston – the historic and picturesque North End (Boston’s answer to Little Italy), and the bustling downtown Tremont Street by the Boston Common.

The atmosphere kind of falls in between a super-local, quirky flare and a chain-esque feel. They offer a smaller menu than you’d find at, say Starbucks. But each cup is handcrafted by their friendly baristas and has a much more authentic European flavor. All their classic drinks are rich and strong – a fresh divergence from the often over-sweet and lightly brewed stuff we’re used to coming from national chains.

I’ve enjoyed several of their offerings – classic lattes, mocha, chai lattes, and their deliciously sinful French hot chocolate. They’re wonderful, but as I mentioned are made a lot stronger and richer than what casual coffee drinkers might be used to. You can get a cup made traditionally or pour-over.

Their snacks and tea are nothing to scoff at, either. If you order tea you get the whole steeping experience. Their selection is limited but the variety offers at least one choice for every major flavor. And their pastries are undoubtedly wonderful. I’ve avoided ordering when I can (let’s be honest – none of it’s gonna be good for you!) but what I have tried has never disappointed.

After hours and weekends find the places swamped – I’ve never actually been to the downtown location that didn’t involve waiting for a seat or having to squeeze in on their bar. The North End location has better luck but I’ve definitely run into troubles on warm weekends.

If you’re ever visiting Boston and are looking for a mid-afternoon or evening coffee break, I highly recommend Thinking Cup. The city, of course, is full of great spots for this sort of thing but I can guarantee a good experience here!