Located at the corner of Salem Street and Parmenter Street in Boston’s North End.
Yesterday, I finished my box of Twinings Earl Grey so this morning I went to visit Polcari’s Coffee to pick up some more.
Run by the Polcari family since 1932, Polcari’s Coffee is a North End institution. Originally selling just coffee, they expanded to dry goods and specialty items upon customer request. In fact, everything they sell, a customer at one time asked for. Dry goods are measured in to plastic bags, weighed, tied, and labeled for you to take home. If you’re buying a new spice, don’t worry, they sell spice jars and cannisters too.
Jars upon jars of loose leaf tea and coffee. That old school scale (middle left) is actually the scale they use to this day.
The store proudly has a Boston Bruins flag hanging behind the counter and someone from the Polcari family is always working at the store. During the week, expect to see Nicki (short for Nicholas) but on the weekends expect to see family from his father’s generation. Last year, I was running late from work and needed to stop by Polcari’s Coffee to pick up flour and vanilla for a birthday cake. I called the shop and Nicki kept the store open an extra 15 minutes so that I could get my ingredients. You just don’t get that kind of service anywhere!
Spices for sale in any weight you can imagine. Check out that massive jar of rainbow sprinkles! (lower right corner)
This is a great place to go if you’re a tea drinker like me but also for coffee which can be ground for drip or french press. You will also find a plethora of spices, flour & yeast, legumes, assorted nuts, olive oil, cheeses, and other Italian imported goods. Their tomato paste may be the best I’ve ever had and their prices are very reasonable. Compare $15 for jar of saffron at a chain grocery store to $7 at Polcari’s.
Even if you don’t need to buy anything, stopping in to Polcari’s Coffee for this old-world experience is worth it. Don’t forget to stop at an ATM, they are cash or check only.