In the Rough, Casual, Fine Dining, Essex, Gloucester, Rockport

These local cafés on Cape Ann offer great coffee, home-baked goods and more

TOWN:Essex, Gloucester, Rockport
WHAT:No corporate sameness here, just a hot cup of local soul
WHY:These local establishments are a great place to hang while you enjoy your caffeine fix

You may have heard of the website promoting locally owned cafés as an alternative to a certain big, national monolith. While I enjoy a Flat White as much as the next guy, and stop in a Dunkin on the highway if I need a caffeine fix, there’s something about stirring your latte at a local coffee shop that stirs your soul at the same time. 

Each of the following businesses provide a warm welcome and fresh-baked goodness that no chain can match. The next time you’re visiting Cape Ann, look one of them up. You’ll discover new takes on everything from breakfast sandwiches to delicious pastries, not to mention terrific coffee and lunch options. Many feature homemade grab-and-go meals for dinner as well.


Googan’s Galley

To the uninitiated, this lively spot’s name is a bit of a puzzle. Googan is not the owner’s last name but rather a term for a novice – perhaps someone fishing with the hook lodged in their shorts and a tangled line wrapped around them. For this local establishment, it’s a lighthearted play on Essex’s proximity to the sea and on the inexperience of the founder a couple of years ago.

Kimberly St. Onge launched the café in early 2022 and it attracted a local following immediately. She’s fine-tuned the restaurant over the past year, and hired baking and culinary specialists who know their way around a kitchen. Coffee is sourced from #6 Depot in West Stockbridge, and everything in the café is homemade, from the delicious baked goods to sandwiches and wraps to the to-go items you can grab on the way out the door for dinner. Centrally located in Essex, it’s the perfect stop on a bike ride, before you head out on the water, or for a quick noon-time bite.

FUN FACT: Googan’s specializes in gluten-free baking, and, because they use only high-quality ingredients, their offerings taste every bit as good as their gluten-rich counterparts.

1 Martin St, Essex


Cake Ann

Located behind the Gloucester House Restaurant on Rogers Street, Cake Ann takes a bit of navigating to find, but it’s worth the effort. The café is open and airy with a welcoming fireplace, perfect for a fall or winter’s day. Owner and chef Inge Logan McCarthy has worked in some of the best kitchens in Massachusetts and her experience is baked into Cake Ann pastries you won’t find anywhere else.

A case in point: a sweet French pop-over called a Kouign Amann. If you’re lucky, they won’t have sold out of this specialty by the time you arrive! In addition, you’ll find plenty of favorites like croissants, quiche, fruit galettes, muffins and tarts. They source their coffee from local legend Atomic Coffee, and offer espresso-based coffee drinks in their many guises.  

FUN FACT: As the name implies, Cake Ann makes wedding cakes, too. In fact, as many as 200 a year leave the bakery – that’s a cake every couple of days! 

63 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 865-4100

Source Bakery

Julie White got the inspiration for Source Bakery by starting small, baking in a shared space and selling through farmer’s markets and pop-up locations. She must have been doing something right, because within a few years she and head baker Ashley Barnett opened a retail location at 3 Duncan Street just off of Main Street in Gloucester. If karma is a real thing then the former Alchemy restaurant location has rubbed off some pixie dust on Source, which carries on the tradition of inventive, delicious food and drinks.

Sure you can order a fresh-baked muffin, coffee cake, or cinnamon bun, but also consider a leek and cheddar biscuit, sausage, onion, arugula and goat cheese quiche, or carrot cake with walnuts. Their biscuit egg sandwiches can be dressed up anyway you like, and, if you’re like many Source customers, you will like them a lot! Their coffee is locally sourced from Ipswich’s Little Wolf Coffee Roasters, with hot and cold brew options. Find a table or pull up a chair to the counter in their multi-level space and hang out with workers pecking on laptops and locals catching up over coffee.

3 Duncan St, Gloucester


Cove Café

Driving north on Route 127 north from the Gloucester Rotary at the end of Route 128, you’ll pass Annisquam village and come to Lanesville, a small village in Gloucester. Keep and eye out for Cove Café on the left. The café was opened by Alisha Clayton in 2017 and has become a standby for locals, tradespeople and tourists alike. 

Walk in the door and you’ll be greeted with a smile from Alex behind the counter. Their coffee is sourced from Hogan Brothers Coffee Roasters in Framingham. The filter coffee is truly great, and there are choices for lattes and other espresso-based pours. The crew here stays busy baking up breakfast muffins, cinnamon sticks and coffee cakes. there are also choices for sweet-tooths – raspberry tarts, brownies, bars – with gluten-free options among them. 

We sampled their breakfast burrito and breakfast bowl, both of which were tasty and unusual with their avocado and fresh salsa additions. We also brought home chicken salad from their prepared meals selection, which turned out to be delicious. 

FUN FACT: In the summertime, boaters pull into Lanes Cove down the street and walk to Cove Café for a few of their sandwiches, then duck into the package store next door for beverages. 

1064 Washington St, Gloucester


Brother’s Brew Coffee Shop

Brother’s Brew shares space with the venerable Bracket’s Oceanview Restaurant on Main Street. It’s vibe is comfortable and lived-in, with tables populated by local gals getting together for a coffee klatch and a few professionals taking care of business on their laptops while enjoying a relaxed coffee and breakfast.

There are plenty of breakfast options to choose from, with scones, muffins and other baked goods, but the donuts take center stage here. Order cake or lighter yeast donuts to enjoy true melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Their Norwegian coffee bread has a dedicated following, too. Looking for a full breakfast? Brother’s has you covered – order The Deckhand with eggs and homemade hash and you won’t go away hungry. Coffee is sourced from Hogan Brothers in Framingham and all baked goods are made on the premises. 

FUN FACTS: Brothers Ross and Marc Brackett are third-generation restauranteurs and continue to use their grandfather’s donut recipe every day. The family has been open for business in the same location since 1979. 

27 Main St, Rockport, MA