Jerry Seinfeld once said that our only true goal in life is to find a place to sit. If you really think nice and hard about it, you'll find that your day may indeed just be moments spent in chairs, or couches, or beds, strung together by your attempts to get to them.
It's no big leap then, to declare that a truly good coffee shop is one where you can sit, for hours if you like, even after your cappuccino runs out. It's an added bonus if that cappuccino was fantastic. Dwelltime Coffeebar and Bakeshop, the latest in a slew of new caffeine-fueled watering holes in Cambridge, is this close to being that place.
The second we walk in, we're greeted by the brand-spankin'-new smell of shellac and sawdust. The whole space has an airy West Coast feel to it, with lots of natural light and wood booths backed up against brick walls.
In a bout of Euro sensibility, I go for an espresso ($2.50) rather than their signature pour-over coffees ($2.25). It's zingy and pops with citrus notes, with surprisingly little bitter aftertaste.
Strawberry turnovers ($3) are sweet, in a subtle, muted kind of way, but the dry puff pastry is easily eclipsed by the chocolate hazelnut croissants ($3.50), which nail the balance of bittersweet chocolate and nutty paste to a tee. The croissant is moist and flaky and ever-so-slightly buttery, just as it should be.
Where the place stumbles as it irons out some opening kinks, it makes up for it with its staff. After my espresso jitters fade, I pick out a tea, Chin Suan Oolong ($3). The staff takes care of the first steep for you, and as I watch, the barista tells me every last detail about the leaf, and then lifts the lid and invites me to stick my nose in and see what I pick up.
Though they do offer free Wi-Fi, the shop recently announced that access will be restricted during lunchtime (11 am–3 pm), citing the impact all the Web surfing has had on their "aspirations of developing dwelltime as a social hub." But it's the scant seating, not the Wi-Fi, that has the potential to be the biggest complaint anyone could lodge against this peaceful little oasis, and the café is already petitioning the city of Cambridge to correct their 20-seat limit. For now, log off Facebook, and get cozy, folks.
Dwelltime Coffeebar & Bakeshop, located at 364 Broadway, Cambridge, is open Monday–Friday, 7 am–7 pm; Saturday, 8 am–6 pm; and Sunday, 9 am–6 pm. Visit dwelltimecambridge.com or follow them on Twitter @dwelltimecoffee.