Drinking an authentic European latte is toward the top of my bucket list. I’m no world traveler, so unfortunately this dream will have to wait, but in the meantime, I’ve been making do at Tatte Bakery & Café. According to my French neighbor, it’s one of the few genuinely European cafés in Boston. A lot of people seem to enjoy the European infusion, as Tatte has become a staple in many of Boston’s neighborhoods. The owner, a native of Israel, has brought a slice of Europe into town, and Boston is loving it.
My first trip to Tatte was with that neighbor. While we waited in line, he explained to me that lattes aren’t that popular in France, but they’re certainly not exclusive to Italy as I’d originally believed. In true European fashion, he ordered a solo espresso, something I have tried and failed to enjoy. Perhaps one day, I will abandon my very American dependence on milk, and enter the realm of the espresso elite – the Europeans. A girl can dream…
The first sip was very, very bold. It’s a full bodied espresso with dominant floral notes, and some mild fruity undertones with a pleasant overall bitterness. I noticed that the beans used were from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a local Boston roaster, though I don’t remember which blend was used; I would assume the house blend based on the website description. The milk did not have much of a fluffy texture, but was starkly foamless, which I think actually emphasized the strength and flavor of the espresso. The milk ends up not adding (or subtracting) much to the drink, so the espresso can really stand out on the tongue. While different than what I’m used to, I found every sip more enjoyable than the last.
My subsequent visits to Tatte proved similar; my latte was always strong, always bitter, always delicious. I definitely appreciate consistency when it comes to lattes; I feel it’s the mark of a truly great café that each barista can make a drink the exact same way. But even with all these pluses, I found myself looking for more. Even now, I can’t put my finger on why I don’t totally love the Tatte latte (this rhyme was bound to happen at some point in this post, wasn’t it?). I have come to think the bold espresso + foamless milk combo is too near to straight espresso for my unsophisticated palate. Regardless, Tatte, while lovely, does not beat my current frontrunner, the Buttery. I give it a 7 out of 10.
I recommend paying Tatte a visit, but I’d suggest planning to go on a weekday evening and avoiding the weekend – the place is absolutely slammed on the weekends, and rightfully so. The sweet, modern atmosphere of the café unfortunately gets lost when you barely have room to stand in line. Did I forget to mention the amazing pastries? More than the coffee, the pastries are Tatte’s claim to fame, and any of their freshly baked tarts will do you well. You may see me there, grimacing my way through solo espressos in an attempt to be cooler – if you do, apologies in advance.