Food for thought: Thinking Cup Cafe on Tremont

The Thinking Cup Cafe satisfies the dual craving for tasty and affordable. Though their selection of hot beverages isn’t as elaborate as that of your favorite chain coffee company, their one-of-a-kind food, desserts, and atmosphere will make your yummy-sensors tingle.

The downtown cafe is the only one in Boston exclusively brewing Stumptown Coffee, named The Best Coffee in the World by NPR, The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine and USA Today, according to the Thinking Cup website. They also offer a variety of organic teas beyond just shoving a tea bag in boiling water.

“I loved that the tea comes in little tea pots and you pour it into little tea cups,” Shea Gomez, a freshman musical theatre major, said. “They don’t use tea bags and it’s really fresh and cute.”

The Thinking Cup’s owner, Hugh Geiger, went to New England School of Law in the mid-90s and knows the Downtown area well.

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“I thought that a cozy coffee shop would do well. We came up with the name, ‘Thinking Cup’  because we thought that it would be a good idea to come up with a concept that provokes thought,” Geiger said in an e-mail to the Beacon. All the buzz is duly deserved, as their silky smooth brew is the milk and honey of coffees.

Unfortunately for every foodie on a meal plan, your parents can’t fund your inevitable Stumptown Coffee addiction as the Thinking Cup does not accept ECCash yet. Geiger said in an e-mail to the Beacon that they wanted to but Emerson did not permit it. “As it relates to ECCash, we were denied access.  I find it interesting.  I assume we are a threat to the cafe that you guys have,” Geiger said. Hold off on donning your picketing gear, though. According to Andrew Mahoney, Director of Business Services’ e-mail to the Beacon, the matter is still under consideration.

*Food:

Classic sandwiches like peppercorn turkey and smoked salmon can quash any famine and cost between seven and 10 dollars. For those looking for a lighter alternative, or perhaps reminiscing about European portion sizes, a 6-inch baguette stuffed with tuna or turkey and cheese costs less than five dollars.

All fans of Panera’s broccoli cheddar should prepare to be blown away by Thinking Cup’s tomato cheddar. The 12-ounce serving for five bucks is more than enough to feel full, but when combined with one of their cheddar and bacon breakfast scones it’s an ultimate cure for those winter chills.

*Desserts:

Finally, Finale has met its match. Delicate biscotti, fresh fruit tarts in a light custard, exquisite chocolate mousse, buttery coconut macaroons, cupcakes in all shades of frosting and a variety of sizes, and cakes by the slice that will make even the most devout weight watcher throw away the calorie counter. These goodies range in prices from a little over a dollar to five depending on the item.

*Atmosphere:

The Thinking Cup’s interior provides the best of both worlds for those looking for a quiet place to read or study and a relaxed atmosphere to spend some time with friends. It’s not the best place to answer e-mails however, as there is no WiFi.

“I immediately felt like I was in the country,” James Harness, sophomore broadcast journalism major said. “It was like a hybrid between a country bakery and a city cafe.”

The decoration of the cafe combines intimate lighting imperative to providing that relaxing anonymity previously reserved exclusively for romantic restaurants with unrefined details like one brick wall and chalkboard menus. Each tabletop displays a different vintage newspaper local to Boston behind a thick glass. One is the front page of the July 22, 1969 Boston Herald Traveler covering Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.’s return from their lunar landing, while another is the morning edition of the Boston Sunday Globe from February 16, 1896 featuring a “Pictorial History of a Century of Cycling.” The rest of the decor consists of delicious goodies in glass cases and jars.

Sheel Ganatra, a grad student at MIT and a coffee aficionado, finds himself a regular here.

“I keep coming back because I consistently find it very good. Good coffee, good location, and good hours ,which is rare in the Boston area to say the least,” Ganatra said. And it’s true! The Thinking Cup is open as late as 10 p.m. Monday — Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday — Sunday. Between its accommodating hours and proximity to campus, it’ll be hard not to find yourself going back.