Last summer, acclaimed Chicago coffee roaster Intelligentsia opened its first Boston-area cafe — or “coffeebar,” as the company calls them — in Watertown (810 Mt. Auburn St.), with a sales office and training lab next door. Intelligentsia made clear that this location was just a first foray into the area, with company president James McLaughlin telling the Boston Business Journal at the time, “We’re actively looking for new sites in Boston and Cambridge.” He likened the planned Boston expansion to the company’s Chicago expansion, first opening in an area where the cafe would serve as an anchor for the community to discover the brand, later expanding downtown and elsewhere.
Indeed, the second local Intelligentsia will be right downtown: It’s slated to open this summer at 225 Franklin St. in the Financial District, more specifically Post Office Square, right on the first floor of the State Street Bank building. (Another non-local coffee chain, California-based Blue Bottle, has the same idea, with a location opening soon at 100 Federal St., a two-minute walk away.)
Per a statement from the company, “Intelligentsia is excited to grow our brand in Boston, adding to our bustling Watertown location.”
The Watertown Intelligentsia features what it calls a “chef’s table,” but the coffee shop version, where customers can interact with baristas. The location also serves local baked goods from Somerville’s Forge Baking Co., which — along with its sibling spots, Diesel Cafe and Bloc Cafe — serves Intelligentsia coffee.
The Watertown location is in its own building, but the Boston location, since it will be within an office building, will look quite different in terms of design. Per a rep for the company, it will “have a bright, open, and airy feel.” Customers will order from a barista and then pay at the register. This will be the first Intelligentsia location to serve nitro cold coffee.
Intelligentsia has been around for more than 20 years: Founders Doug Zell and Emily Mange opened their first location in 1995, roasting their own coffee onsite, and have since expanded to Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Boston, with a handful of coffeebars, training labs, and roasting facilities scattered among them.
In 2015, Peet’s Coffee acquired a majority stake in the company (shortly after purchasing Portland, Oregon-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters), no doubt helping fuel further expansion. (Peet’s itself is under the umbrella of JAB Holding Company, which also owns everything from Panera and Keurig to Mighty Leaf Tea and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.)
Yesterday, Eater LA reported that Intelligentsia also has a new location slated for the heart of Hollywood — the first new location in Los Angeles in seven years.
Stay tuned for updates as Intelligentsia gets closer to opening its first Boston proper location. In the meantime, visit the Watertown outpost, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends.
Update, 5:45 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a few details about the design of the forthcoming location.