There are Dunkin Donuts on every corner in the Metro West area, Boston, and the state of Massachusetts in general. I’ve had too many bad experiences to return for their coffee, except if I’m driving long-distance and it’s the only place around (about once a year, though, a coolatta is necessary).
Like many other unemployed individuals in the Boston area, I’ve been trying to escape my 95 degree apartment for at least a few hours every day. The library is great (AC, lots to…read), but sometimes I need a snack, and an iced coffee, and a consistent internet connection. Thus, Cafe on the Common!
I read a few reviews (most reflecting bad/terrible experiences) before visiting, so I had a check list in my head of what to expect: mean baristas, extremely high prices, and an unwelcoming atmosphere. Maybe new staff has come on since those reviews, but all three girls at the counter were very friendly and accommodating, even with six or more people in line during the lunch hour. The prices weren’t terrible ($2.25 for a large iced coffee, $3.75 for a giant piece of carrot cake) and lunch items (sandwiches and salads) seemed to be average-priced. The light oldies in the background and huge windows wrapping around half the room made the cafeteria-style tile floor and 10+ small tables work for everyone. As it is on the edge of a fairly traffic-heavy intersection, it was relaxing to watch cars when I needed a break from work.
The carrot cake was good, as was the (very high-caffeine) iced coffee, although most mediocre coffees can taste good when iced (whenever I have a bad latte, I ice it and then it’s usually drinkable). So I will need to come back for a latte and really test this places’ coffee skills.
If you want a dark, artsy, really lived-in coffeehouse, you’ll be disappointed, but for a coffee or lunch, a place to work for a few hours, and a convenient location for Walthamites (is that right?), Cafe on the Common is a great choice. Plus, there are still interesting characters of all ages for quality people watching, even outside of those trendy Boston cafes.
Cafe on the Common, 677 Main Street, Waltham, MA
I visited for the second time this afternoon and was disappointed: sitting down with my iced black tea ($1.98) I opened my laptop to find that their WiFi was down, and a second later realized that my tea was very weak. Maybe it was an off day.