HYDE SQ.—The space is intimate, the wood is blond and the unmistakable scent of espresso perfumes the air. The opening of Velouria Espresso has added gourmet coffee to the list of recent improvements to Hyde Square, along with the reopening of Ultra Beauty Salon.
Velouria opened in August at 389 Centre St. in the space formerly occupied by Video Underground after that business moved to larger quarters next door. There is free WiFi and a small selection of baked goods, but what sets Velouria apart is its distinctive method of making high-quality coffee. It is the only outfit in New England to use a special (and expensive) Clover machine that brews each cup to order. Also, it serves only Terroir coffee, in part because it is local (distributed from Acton), but also because of Terroir’s focus on fair trade and flavor.
“The proof is in the taste,” says owner Justin McCarthy. Another barista, Kayleen Daniel, agrees. “There is no bitterness in the coffee. And because we brew on demand, we can use lighter coffees—which means no over-roasting.” Despite the admittedly expensive beans and machines, the cost of a cup of coffee seems to be on a par with those of big coffee outlets like Starbucks.
The opening adds Velouria to an already-heady mix, with nearby Junebug Café also serving up a variety of coffee drinks, and a few blocks away the small grocery City Feed and Supply with its espresso machines. Contrast this new plethora of options with four years ago, when the closest coffee shop was J.P. Licks, at the other end of Centre Street. No more.
Although it opened its doors in August, Velouria is still in “soft opening” mode as the owner experiments with what hours work best. Current hours are 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Once the schedule is finalized, McCarthy plans to begin advertising.
The Hyde Square area in general has been revitalized in the last few months. Ultra Beauty Salon reopened in early November after extensive rebuilding. A truck crashed through the salon’s entrance in a dramatic accident last February.