In the past decade and change, I’ve had the immense luck to — more years than not — spend a few days of summer a short walk from the Atlantic Ocean in a small house on Cape Cod that my friend’s mom rents annually. The start of these yearly-ish trips to the cape coincided with the start of my career in coffee, and where previously I didn’t care much about the quality of my vacay coffee, I found myself bringing my AeroPress (with which I’d inevitably make six batches in a row for our whole party) or Chemex, or bags upon bags of beans for cold brew.
While I still made a whole bunch of cold brew throughout my short trips to Massachusetts these past few summers, I’ve also realized that there are more and more Cape Cod coffee shops brewing great coffee. These are the three I hit for some tasty to-go espresso beverages this summer.
Kohi Coffee Company
199 Commercial Street; Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657
The shot I had at the Cape Cod coffee shop this year was balanced and sweet, but delightfully bright as well. Exiting through the back door of Kohi is mandated by Covid customer protocol, but it’d be kind of weird not to do it in normal times when the back door basically leads you straight out onto the beach.
If I have to drink an espresso to go, there are few better places to do that. Kohi also operates the coffee program at Spindler’s, a resort towards the other end of Commercial street, as well as shops in Brighton and near South Station in Boston; a true Massachusetts specialty coffee institution.
Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters
483 Main Street; Chatham, Massachusetts 02633
2624 Main Street; Brewster, Massachusetts 02631
Snowy Owl has their own roasting facility where they make their own specialty coffee in Brewster up on the bayside of the Cape, but I’ve twice visited their espresso bar further south in Chatham.
Not so much a café as a booth nestled into a wildly cute courtyard tucked in behind a Lily Pulitzer shop, you’d probably have to be looking for the Chatham Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters to find it — but I was very glad I did.
The espresso shot I had there was full of sugar-browning flavors (chocolate, caramel, brown sugar) and quite tasty. The environs would be beautiful any year, but in a year where I’m constantly sad I can’t relax inside a coffee shop, having a tree-lined space to drink a cup of espresso is especially nice.
Three Fins Coffee Roasters
581 Main Street #2239; West Dennis, Massachusetts 02670
Located in a West Dennis strip mall (one, it should be said, that resembles a large B&B more than it does the strip malls I grew up with in Chicago), Three Fins’ coffee shop occupies the front of a large, high-ceiling space that also holds their roasting facility.
Both the espresso in the cappuccino I had (served old-school with foam scooped on top) and the single origin Mexican drip coffee had a bit more roast flavor than the other coffees I had on the Cape. So, if you’re looking for a slightly darker cup of coffee, a pretty wide variety of origins, and specialty drink options, this is the right place. Three Fins also serves baked goods from local bakers, and both the blueberry danish and onion galette I had there were totally delicious.
If you find yourself with a coffee obsession, these Cape Cod coffee shops should all be at the top of your list when you visit. Each place offers a wide variety of specialty drink options, breakfast, baked goods, and so much more.