From 1959 to 2020, people went to 12 Bow St. in Harvard Square for a sense of community. The reason why was the Spanish-styled Café Pamplona, a favorite haunt for students, artists, writers, and other locals. So, when Faro Café opened last December on nearby Arrow Street, those who knew Café Pamplona expected a revival. And it is in a sense.
Faro’s owner, Henry Hoffstot, 32, shares the same goal of establishing a community environment, but his methods are new. “We’re lighting our own torch,” he says.
A warm, cozy space filled with light, Faro offers skillfully crafted frothy coffees made with beans from local roasters, such as Broadsheet in Somerville and Tiny Arms in Lowell. Croissants, pastries, and other breads come from La Saison, a well-regarded Cambridge bakery. It is common to see the indoor tables filled with students and remote workers hunched over laptops (there’s outdoor seating, too).
Hoffstot plans to hold talks, art exhibits, events, music — perhaps even chess nights in the future. And time with “no laptops so people can get off the keyboard and converse,” he says.
Hoffstot lived and worked in finance in Buenos Aires for four years. He was inspired by the city’s vibrant coffee scene, where people used cafés to relax with a cup of coffee rather than work. He opened his shop after returning to the United States, naming it after the Spanish word for lighthouse. Lighthouses are of course meant to shine a light and guide.
5 Arrow St., Cambridge. Open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.