On the Cheap: Render Coffee

Coffee-nerd nirvana
By ALI CARTER  |  February 1, 2012


Don't-give-a-shit hipster baristas, move aside — Render Coffee is raising the bar on specialty coffee shops in Boston. Owner Chris Dadey, former general manager of Espresso Royale and Pavement Coffeehouse, has rallied a team of coffee technicians, and they're determined to craft the perfect cup.

The South End café opened in October, taking the place of Uptown Espresso, and features a revolving lineup of Counter Culture direct-trade coffee and Apollo espresso. Brewed exclusively as pour-overs — a three- to four-minute process using the staff's own carefully calibrated formula — their coffee is worth the wait.

Taking a sip of "La Golondrina" ($4.50), Render's Colombian coffee, was like biting into a ripe plum drizzled with caramel and chocolate. Beyond their classic espresso drinks ($2.75–$4.50), Render offers hazelnut and vanilla lattes ($4.50), featuring house-made hazelnut puree and vanilla syrup. They also serve loose-leaf MEM teas ($2.25) and Taza hot chocolate ($4).

Render also provides primarily local, seasonal, and organic foods— all made in-house. Walking into the café, the first thing I noticed was the saliva-inducing scent of spicy stuffed peppers ($5) — one of two daily specials — baking in the oven. I couldn't resist. The roasted green-bell-pepper halves, packed with shredded carrot, sweet potatoes, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, tomato, cheddar, and chili-pepper flakes, and lined with cream cheese — a perfect tag-team — could have been a meal in itself.

The café has an all-day breakfast menu, featuring a frittata sandwich with cheddar and bacon served on Iggy's seven-grain bread or bagel ($5.50), quiche ($6), and bagels (plain, sesame, or everything) with butter ($1.50) or cream cheese ($2.50). After 11 am, Render adds three lunch sandwiches into the mix, including their "apple poblano pulled-chicken" sandwich ($8.25), with gala apples, cilantro, poblano peppers, onion, garlic, cheddar, and slow-cooked chicken on brioche. For the snackers, Render has baked goods from the Danish Pastry House and Baby Sistah Cookies. I can confirm that the chocolate-chip pecan cookies are mind-blowing.

Render's high-quality stuff is matched only by their high-quality staff. They may be coffee nerds, but they aren't snobs. You won't get dirty looks if you go for the cream or sugar; but ask a question, and they will tell you more than you ever thought there was to know about that dark brown beverage in your cup. And if you come by Render Fridays at 10 am, you can join in their weekly cuppings led by Counter Culture Coffee experts. Free Wi-Fi doesn't hurt, either.

Render Coffee, located at 563 Columbus Avenue in Boston, is open Monday–Friday, 7 am–7 pm and Saturday–Sunday, 8 am–7 pm. Call 617.262.4142 or visit rendercoffeebar.com.

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  Topics: On The Cheap , restaurants, cheap eats, food features
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