Loyal Nine, Cambridge (MA): Australian-quality coffee

To build on my reply to the recent ‘Boston’s best coffee’ thread, I have to give all kinds of hearts and stars to Loyal Nine’s unreal coffee. It’s one of only two consistently Australian-quality coffees in the area (Three Little Figs) is the other: strong, well-balanced, and perfectly-brewed every time. The baristas really know their stuff, and manage to maintain the perfect level of noticeable but non-intrusive level of warmth and cheerfulness in the mornings.

Their baked goods are also amazing, with special nods to the salted butter cake (not really cake, almost more like kouign amann), the sourdoughnut, and the biscuit. Something changed about the biscuits in the last month or so, and they went from good to fantastic as a result: crunchy outside, almost cloud-like fluffy inside, so delicious that I don’t want to use the honey butter because I don’t want to mask the biscuits’ own flavour in any way.

Loyal Nine’s recently-added brunches deserve their own thread, and I’ll try to get to that soon. But I wanted to talk up the coffee first because it’s just that good, and for all that Camberville is a great food destination, we suffer from the same coffee desert problems as everywhere else around Boston. Loyal Nine is a much-appreciated oasis.

My ears perked up. Stopped here for lunch and picked up a salted butter cake to go- will save it for dessert tonight. I’m hoping it’s all it’s cracked up to be because $4.25 seemed pretty steep. I had a brisket sandwich with haruki turnips and onion jam- excellent! My sprouts split a biscuit ($2.75- more reasonable) of which I grabbed a bite and concur was really good. This is not really an area of Cambridge that I find myself in often (and I live around the corner from 3 Little Figs) so I’ll have to make a point to pop by from time to time. Unfortunately, today I was not in need of coffee so can’t report on that aspect.

I very much enjoyed the coffee in Australia, but this is the first time I’ve heard the term “Australian-quality” coffee. I’m guessing by your name you’re from there or very familiar with Australia; is the coffee there known to be especially well made? I’m just really curious, as I love the coffee from Three Little Figs.

Heh, yes, the name is a bit of a giveaway. I’m Bostonian by birth but have lived in Australia off and on my adult life.

Australians, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, are serious about coffee. It’s revelatory. There’s long reasons to do with immigration patterns, but the end result is that there’s this crazy online Australian underground that advises each other on where to find good coffee away from home. Part of my reason for posting this was to contribute to that network.

That’s very cool. I only got to spend a few days in each city on a recent trip down there (plus Alice Springs, Uluru, Port Douglas, and Adelaide) so I only got to sample coffee here and there, but I had some killer flat whites in Melbourne. Do you usually do the drip coffee at Three Little Figs and Loyal Nine or do you get espresso drinks?

As Sydney is my adopted home, I am not allowed to say that the coffee is even better in Melbourne. So let’s just move briskly on.

I always get espresso drinks. Flat whites are my drink of choice in Aus, but they’re wildly inconsistent in the US (even when they’re good, they’re not quite right) so I tend to get lattes. My usual at Loyal Nine is a mocha, though, because they use very dark chocolate and only just enough to get the taste to come through. I find mochas in most places to be far too sweet. Pair that with one of their biscuits and you have a pretty perfect morning.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think! I will fully admit that I am only casually acquainted with kouign amann, and I don’t think the salted butter cake is trying to be one, at least not a super-correct version of one; but ‘salted butter cake’ as a name doesn’t give anything like a correct idea of what this delicious little treasure is, and I don’t know how else to describe it.

The crunch on the flaky pastry is unreal. I strongly recommend pairing it with a good, strong cup of tea or coffee, if you can manage caffeine at night.

agree- really delicious and shades of kouign amann. Like a flaky butter pastry that’s been candied.

Hooray! So glad you enjoyed it. With the combination of the coffee, the baked goods, the cocktails and the restaurant, Loyal Nine is probably my favorite addition to the local food scene in the almost-six years I’ve been back in Boston. They just seem to do everything well, and they’re so lovely besides. We’re going to be moving back across the river in August, and I’ve already made my wife promise that we’ll still go to Loyal Nine for coffee at least once a week.

If you ever get the chance, I’d be curious to know your thoughts on Nine Bar Espresso, new in Davis Square. Their baked goods are no great shakes but they seem to have a top notch coffee game so far.

A mocha and a biscuit from there makes for a good afternoon too. Thanks for the pointer!

I’m with you on most mochas being too sweet and am always happy to find places that get the balance right. We asked about the chocolate they use and found out that, like other places we’ve especially liked, they make their own syrup/sauce.