KooKoo Cafe Vs. Olea: Boston: Brookline

If you want a cafe off the Brookline Village stop on the T's Green Line, you have a couple of options. On one side of the street is KooKoo Cafe, on the other, Olea. I chose KooKoo because I saw on my Google Places app that it had higher ratings.

I ordered an americano, happy that I could pay the same amount for a small or a large since they give you two shots either way here. It's nice of them not to charge you for a few ounces more of water.

KooKoo Americano

That being said, it was watered down. That was my bad though. I know I like it stronger than that.

The decor is a yuppie parents/hippies hybrid, the art on the walls was all paintings of either abstract smatterings of color or else birds. The Essential Rumi can be picked off the wall for some reading, presumably accompanied by one of their teas, perhaps the roasted mate latte, a bandwagon they've jumped onto here.

There are three 2-person tables outside, five 2-seaters inside, one larger 3-4 person table, and a child's table with one of those children's doctors offices slidey toys on it.

The middle-aged woman who rang up my order smiled and was friendly as she took my order.

They had some sandwiches and pastries in cases, but they looked pretty generic, as did their little breakfast menu, so I wasn't really tempted to get food.

I had to switch some chairs around as my back hurt in the first one I'd settled down in. The next one I tried was wobbly. I finally rearranged myself into a decent seating arrangement on the third try. I felt like Goldilocks, having finally found the just right seat, when I realized it was really quite warm in there as they clearly didn't have any air conditioning going.

Also, I had to pee. I got up to find the restroom but found only lots of yoga schedules, and I learned that the same people behind KooKoo run something called Yoga in the Village. You can see from the relative development of their yoga website versus their KooKoo website which of the two they care more about.

It's my opinion that it should be illegal not to have a restroom at a coffee shop, as the main product is a diuretic, so by this point this place was losing its charm for me.

Though I have gone back once.
The iced americano was good. The Madeleine I'd skip.

There are a couple of tables outside.

I left the hippie haven and headed right across the street to a little cafe called Olea. When I entered I quickly located the restroom and slipped in. I could've easily used this clean, well-stocked restroom and dashed out without buying anything, but I still had time for writing before I had to leave for the eye doctor and it was air conditioned and had lots of comfortable seating, and so I decided to buy an iced tea and stay for a while.

Summer Berries Herbal Tea

Now these cashiers were friendly. The two young ladies working the counter and floor were cheerful and smiling, they answered my tea preference questions, and they offered me lemon with my tea.

I was supposed to be staying on my diet that day, but I had to read the menu just to check it out. Then I saw it: the Butternut Panini: butternut squash, goat cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. I lamented my on-diet-day status to the cashiers, who commiserated, noting that this sandwich was super and that I should really make sure to have it some time.

As I sat down with my refreshing lemon berry iced tea, I engaged in a five minute long convoluted negotiation inside my head about dieting, the week's upcoming restaurant/diet-cheating plans and my desire to pit these two cafes against each other on my food blog and eventually convinced myself I really had to eat the Butternut Panini.

For $7.50, I got this wonderful panini and a side salad of spring mix, shredded carrots and balsamic vinaigrette. The bread was excellent, the soft inside absorbing the bacon-onion juices, the outside crispy but not mouth-scraping.

A closer look at the panini filling goodness - The goat cheese was overwhelming the other flavors a bit, but I was happy to scrape some of it off and add it to my side salad.

Next time I come to this area, I'll be getting my food and my coffee from Olea. They have a full-service coffee bar too, and they serve George Howell coffee (of the former Coffee Connection) just like KooKoo, and on every other count, I find them a superior experience.  The Oleans also keep Ghiradelli chocolate syrup available on the counter next to the skim milk, whole milk, half & half and soy milk.

Now that I'd had an actually friendly encounter, I reflected that the KooKoo woman sort of seemed friendly, but it really felt like she was judging me somehow, like I didn't quite belong.  I sensed a thinness to her smile. Maybe this is all so much insecure projecting, but still, I felt more comfortable and welcome at Olea.

In my ongoing quest to figure out who my people are and where I belong, I think it's time to nail the coffin shut on the yoga/vegetarian/hippie option.


If you pay with a credit card at Olea, there won't be a line for a tip, so make sure to bring some change for the nice cashiers.

Kookoo Cafe on Urbanspoon

Olea Cafe on Urbanspoon

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