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Caffè Nero Brings a European Coffee Shop Experience to the Boston Area

By Pamela Sosnowski

Stepping inside a Caffè Nero coffee shop, you'll recognized immediately what sets it apart from larger, national coffee chains. Oversized soft leather seating beckons beneath exposed brick walls flanked by soft vintage-looking lighting and decorative touches. If the shop makes a customer feel like they're sipping their espresso in Europe and not the Boston area, then Director Jay Gentile is pleased.

"You should immediately feel like you are visiting a coffee house in Europe," he says. "Comfortable yet eclectic, vibrant antique chairs, sofas, tables and lighting so people can sit and spend time. (There are) fireplaces and bookshelves filled with classic hard covered books and great jazz or classical music playing in the background."

There are currently seven Caffè Nero locations in the Boston area, and no two are decorated exactly alike. The company's interior decorators visit street markets and shops throughout Belgium, France, Italy, and the Netherlands to fill each Caffe Nero with eclectic European touches that add to each coffee shop's unique personality.

When founder Gerry Ford created Caffè Nero in 1997, his intention was to create a European style coffee shop that not only served high quality Italian coffee, but function as a neighborhood gathering spot -- a place for friends to discuss the latest news topics or for people to do work or just relax. The organization also strives to be ethically and environmentally responsible, working with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure their coffee comes from identifiable and traceable sources. Every Caffè Nero location also recycles as much waste as possible.

Only high quality, high altitude beans medium roasted in the Italian tradition are used. Besides coffee, Caffè Nero serves a variety of beverages including smoothies, apple cider, frappe lattes, and teas. A selection of freshly prepared food including salads, sandwiches, pastries, and treats are available using ingredients from local sources.

"All our sandwiches are made on site with the highest local or imported ingredients," says Gentile. "Our pastries and desserts are baked on site or made to our specification by local artisan bakers (and) our bread for sandwiches is delivered daily from Nashoba Brook Bakery of West Concord."

Exceptional service also distinguishes the coffee shop from chains where your order is placed from a queue; a barista instead takes a customer's order and delivers the coffee. According to Gentile, Caffè Nero aims to deliver a memorable experience. "We strive to build and operate a "local" coffee house, where friends meet, students write and people work," he says. "Much like you would find in any town throughout Europe."

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