T.S. Eliot had the right idea when he said, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." Coffee houses are more than the modern purveyors of caffeinated bliss -- they are an American pastime, meeting grounds for faithful regulars or wayward coffee lovers. They are also a lifesaver for laptop-armed students in need of new study-time scenery. When it comes down to it, there is just something downright romantic about a great café, and few things in life are more gratifying than stumbling upon a really really great one and spending an afternoon at its tables. The key is to know where to start.

These 40 cafes represent some of Boston's most notable coffee and tea houses, each chosen for its stellar ratings and notable customer reviews. Some were chosen for their study-friendly atmosphere, others for their solid coffee or pastry offerings. Still others were selected because their nostalgic or totally unique vibes are simply not to be missed. We cannot promise that all will satisfy your personal tastes, but the ones that do are well worth the effort. OK, here's the list:

  • Voltage Coffee & Art, 295 3rd St., Cambridge: This "tastefully functional" café is known for its coffee, its art and it undeniable cool factor. Located just around the corner from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, it is also ideal spot for culinary students to refuel between classes.
  • Equal Exchange Café, 226 Causeway St., Boston: Featuring expertly-brewed coffee and baked goods that taste decidedly homemade, Equal Exchange is a gem for foodies and coffee aficionados alike. Be warned: this place can get crowded in the morning.
  • Wired Puppy, 150 Newbury St., Boston: Located in the Back Bay, Wired Puppy's low lighting and even lower ceilings only underscore its insider status. It is also dog-friendly, so bring your best pooch in for a treat.
  • Flat Black Coffee Company, 50 Broad St., Boston: Next time you are in the Financial District and need a pick-me-up, check out this coffeehouse known for its strong brews and friendly service.
  • Jaho Coffee & Tea, 1651 Washington St., Boston: If you are a coffee purist, you will love Jaho Coffee & Tea. Indulge in a fresh pastry or sandwich while you browse the free wi-fi.
  • Blue State Coffee, 957 Commonwealth Ave., Boston: Looking for coffee with a conscience? Not only does Blue State Coffee specialize in vegan fare, but you can pay your tab knowing that 5 percent will go to a local charity.
  • Espresso Royale Caffe, 286 Newbury St., Boston: ERC is an excellent morning stop for coffee-and-bagel-lovers on the go. Check your email while you wait.
  • Sophia's Café, 141 Dorchester Ave., Boston: This South Boston café is as well known for its tasty food as its coffee. Sophia's closes earlier than many cafes, so make it a lunch date.
  • Café Kafofo, 594 Cambridge St., Cambridge: This new-ish circa 2011 coffee shop offers an assortment of gluten-free and other special treats in addition to the typical coffeehouse fare. A hop-skip away from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Café Kafofo is also solid inspiration for culinary students.
  • Pavement Coffeehouse, 1096 Boylston St., Boston: Decked out with comfortable seating and a cool atmosphere, Pavement Coffeehouse is a great place to work or study. Expect some competition from the Berklee College of Music students who frequent the place.
  • Sugar Bowl Café, 857 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester: If Sugar Bowl's coffee, ice cream and yummy sandwiches don't win you over, its cozy, home-like atmosphere probably will.
  • Area Four, 500 Technology Sq., Cambridge: Situated inside a full menu restaurant, A4 offers a variety of custom coffee drinks, unique roasts and a broad assortment of pastries. Kick the day off right with a breakfast sandwich -- you won't regret it.
  • Boston Common Coffee Co., 10 High St., Boston: Located in the Financial District, Boston Common Coffee Company -- formerly Boston Beanstock -- is a great place to squeeze in a little extra work (and caffeine). Customers rave about their yummy pastries and sandwiches, but they sell out quickly so make it an early trip.
  • Cafénation, 380 Washington St., Brighton: Come for the crepes, stay for the coffee and free wi-fi. This popular Brighton coffee stop is a popular breakfast joint, so aim for an afternoon work session if you prefer a slower pace.
  • In House Café, 194 Harvard Ave., Allston: In House Café is known for its great service and extensive drink menu. Quiet with lots of seating (and back-up wi-fi service 'just in case'), this joint is a fabulous place to catch up on your work or emails.
  • Leisure Station, 625 W. Kendall St., Cambridge: Leisure Station may be small, but it is full of big flavor. Milk tea with boba lovers: Swing by and save yourself the long haul to Chinatown.
  • Sherman Café, 257 Washington St., Sommerville: Visit this hipster hangout for freshly baked pastries (including vegan goodies), knock-your-socks-off roasted coffee and quality people watching. (The free wi-fi never hurts, either).
  • Flour Bakery + Café, 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge: Located just across campus, Flour Bakery is a favorite among MIT students. Grab a cup of joe and a scone or sticky bun before camping out for an uber-productive study session.
  • 3 Little Figs, 278 Highland Ave., Somerville: 3 Little Figs is one of Somerville's most popular coffee joints, and while the coffee is good, the service and baklava are out of this world.
  • Render Coffee, 563 Columbus Ave., Boston: This "quintessential" Southie coffee shop is a must for true coffee nerds. You might have to fight for seating in this smaller shop, but the Counterculture roasts and great service make up for it.
  • Temptations Café, 1350 Beacon St., Brookline: Fast, affordable food and coffee drinks make this snazzy addition to Coolidge Corner an perfect pick for culinary students on a budget. Need some foodie inspiration? Try the pistachio and fig sandwich.
  • Savin Scoop, 107 Savin Hill Ave, Dorchester: Coffee, ice cream and free wi-fi in one fell swoop? Located right off the T-Stop, Savin Scoop -- a Dorchester favorite -- has it all.
  • Crema Café, 27 Brattle St., Cambridge: Exposed brick and chunky wooden make Crema one of Harvard Square's hippest cafes. The coffee is great, but the grilled cheese is to-die-for.
  • Moonstruck Café, 47A Woodside Ave., Winthrop: This cozy café offers strong coffee and tasty desserts. Seating is limited, but comfortable, and the adjoining boutique is a welcome distraction for dedicated shoppers.
  • Peet's Coffee & Tea, 285 Harvard St., Brookline: Peet's may be a national chain, but that doesn't lose it any points in Coolidge Corner. Peet's offers great coffee and ample seating, which is a major bonus considering how busy it can get.
  • Tealuxe, 0 Brattle St. (really!), Cambridge: Tealuxe in a word? Charming. This popular tea house is a refreshing alternative to the heavy-hitting coffee joints that dominate the Boston metro. Choose from a wide range of teas and specialty drinks (like Chai Infused Hot Chocolate).
  • Darwin's, 148 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge: This "hippy meets organic" coffee shop and deli is a favorite for students and artists alike. Get there early if you want to work or study as competition for seating heats up throughout the day.
  • The Wholy Grain, 275 Shawmut Ave., Boston: If you are a true coffee aficionado, The Wholy Grain is not to be missed. Camp out all day -- they offer tasty pastries and sandwiches.
  • Dado Tea, 955 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge: Looking for a quiet retreat from Harvard or Central Square? Dado tea is the perfect place to slink away and catch up on homework. Their coffee menu is basic, but their assortment of teas make up for it
  • Fazenda Coffee Roasters Café, 3710 Washington St., Boston: Looking for a cozy hangout in Jamacia Plains? Offering a central location and fast service, Fazenda is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and a muffin before getting down to business.
  • Ula Café, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain: Sometimes you just want to camp out all day and get some work done. Next time you find yourself in that mindset, head to Ula Café where the coffee is good, the pastries are fresh and the seating is more than adequate.
  • Café Luna, 403 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge: With hundreds of positive reviews on Yelp.com, you can be confident that when you visit Café Luna you will walk away a happy customer. Come in early and indulge in a little breakfast.
  • Toscanini's Ice Cream, 899 Main St., Cambridge: Culinary students and wayward foodies: The next time you're in Central Square, scope out this joint that, according to the New York Times, serves the "world's best ice cream." The coffee and free wi-fi are icing on the cake.
  • Clear Conscience Café, 581 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge: When is a cup of coffee more than just a cup of coffee? When it comes from Clear Conscience Café -- or C3 -- where organic, fair trade brews are harvested with a mind for sustainability.
  • Starbucks, 260 Elm St., Somerville: Love it or hate it, no list naming city's top cafes is complete without a nod to Starbucks, and this Davis Square store is one of the highest rated coffeehouses in the Boston Metro.
  • Andala Coffee Houses, 286 Franklin St., Cambridge: Looking for a cup of coffee with a truly global flair? Try Andala's Arabic or Turkish brews (and their drool-worthy Middle Eastern food).
  • Treats on Washington Bakery/Café, 379 Washington St., Brighton: Handmade sodas. Fresh baked goods. Braided bread sandwiches. If you're looking for more than just a place to study, but a full flavor experience, head to this trendy Brighton café.
  • Bourbon Coffee, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge: Bourbon's plentiful (and comfy) seating makes this café a study-time hot spot. The Rwandan coffees, horchatas and Mexican hot chocolates alone are worth the trip.
  • Refuge Café, 115 Brighton Ave., Allston: Offering free wi-fi and cozy, study-worthy nooks, Refuge lives up to its name. You can even celebrate your productivity with a tasty local beer.
  • Olga's Café, 99 Summer St., Boston: If you're the sort who really digs unique coffee flavors, head in to Olga's where coffees are flavored through the beans, not sugary syrups. Fan favorites include: snickerdoodle, gingerbread cookie and banana hazelnut.