I first heard of Cambridge landmark 1369 Coffee House long before I moved to Boston, when I read about it in Drinking: A Love Story, one of my favorite memoirs by the late Boston native Caroline Knapp. As a recovering alcoholic, Knapp talked about 1369 as a place where she would go for “coffee shop therapy.” Similarly, 1369 also provided me with coffee shop therapy when I first moved to the area for grad school. When I couldn’t stand to read one more line alone in my room, I found a crap load of other mid-twenty/thirtysomethings doing the same thing together at 1369. Sometimes, isolation can lead to community.
And it’s that kind of community you can find this Saturday, January 26, at both 1369 locations in Inman and Central Square.
In the spirit of celebrating its 20th anniversary, 1369 will be giving away free food, coffee, and other beverages all day till 5 p.m. There’ll be live music too, and in the spirit of giving back, 1369 will also be accepting donations for two local charities—On the Rise, a women’s homeless shelter, and Food for Free, a food rescue nonprofit.
1369 has always supported social causes, not just through giving cash, but through its business practices. When Cambridge passed gay marriage, for instance, 1369 stayed open till midnight alongside neighboring city hall to celebrate. The owner recalls lines out the door and loads of passionate Cantabrigians waiting and celebrating outside. When the earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, 1369 gave everything they earned away one morning and donated almost $10,000.
They were also one of the first coffee shops in Cambridge that got its feet on the ground right when the energy around coffee and coffee shop culture started to sweep the nation.It capitalized on that energy as well as the educational climate in Boston that offered students and academic types a place to hang and work in a community-oriented environment.
Twenty years later, 1369 is a Cambridge landmark, and remains one of the most popular coffee joints in the area.
When I ask founder Gerry Wolf and owner Josh Gerber what they attribute to their success, Wolf first gives credit to the quality of their coffee. Then, with a laid back, yet confident voice, he says, “People like the vibe.” Both 1369’s coffee and atmosphere are like comfort food in liquid form. It’s a cozy, almost cave-like environment where students pore over books and articles, heated academic conversations flow like roaring rivers, and friends convene over both joy and sorrow, confession and celebration.
It is the ultimate coffee therapy joint and the vibe fits harmoniously with Cambridge’s own.
It’s a place where you feel like you can be social on a Saturday night even when you’re stuck studying alone. It’s a place where if a customer forgets her money, she is not turned away but instead asked to bring the dough next time she’s in the area.
Social isolation in an ever-expanding global capitalist world? Pshaaaaa. If you’re too broke for a therapist or don’t have any friends, you can come park yourself at 1369. Or, if you want to see some art or witness an ugly lampshade competition (yes, this actually happened a few years back), the door is always open.
Cheers to you on your 20th, 1369.
1369 COFFEE HOUSE 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
1369 COFFEE HOUSE
757 MASS. AVE.
1369 CAMBRIDGE ST.