Sam’s Guide to Coffee

IMG_2043I love studying at cafes and drinking coffee together they become a wonderful productive day. The west coast is known for their coffee shops both the local and the chains. I felt that best way for me to connect to the community, take adventures and complete my readings at the same time was to try different coffee shops and cafes. This is a review of six coffees spots in Berkeley and San Francisco. I used my own grading scale on coffee, location, and atmosphere. To replace stars I will be giving the place coffee cups.

Blue Bottle Coffee – 4 coffee cups

Blue Bottle is a small chain in New York City and California, mainly in the Bay Area. This was the first latte I had when arriving in San Francisco. The strength of the coffee was a wonderful shock, this become my level of comparison. No other coffee has been able to compare in strength. Blue Bottle has a selective menu of coffee and few pastries. The snickerdoodle cookie is a nice afternoon pick me up as it is filling but not over sweet. I would really like to try their olive oil short bread, as I am curious about the traditional cookie with olive oil. Blue Bottle serves only one type of iced coffee, New Orleans style iced coffee. I usually only drink lattes as I love espresso and the milk. The New Orleans ice coffee has become my new favourite summer drink. The only down side to Blue Bottle is that their Berkeley location is at the Farmers Market and not a permanent space. Blue Bottle is a place to pick up coffee and not to study.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea – 2 cups

Peet’s Coffee & Tea is the California equivalent to Starbucks in atmosphere, convenience and pricing. Originally a small coffee shop in Berkeley and the first store opened on my birthday but in 1966. I felt the need to try Peet’s once. It is a chain and you are never too far from one. There is even a Peet’s inside the Bart station in downtown Berkeley. I prefer drinking coffee from a local roaster but when you are in a rush Peet’s is there. I tried their summer drink special, which was an iced coconut latte. I love coconut and had never seen it paired with espresso. For my preference the drink was a little too sweet.

Café Strada – 3 cups

Café Strada was the coffee place that every UC Berkeley student raved about. It is located right across from campus and has a wonderful outdoor patio (with heaters for chilly and foggy mornings). It is the perfect place to go between classes, meet groups or work outside (they have wifi). I had the iced latte, it was refreshing but had a little too much which watered down the espresso. The second time I went it was a typical foggy morning in Berkeley and I had a regular latte. I was surprised that it was also served in a glass cup, it did mean I had to drink it before it cooled, but I liked it a lot more than the ice latte. With group projects this semester I will definitely be suggesting this for short meetings as we can enjoy the outdoor space, fresh air and coffee.

Café Lindgren – 4 cups

Café Lindgren was my first study place in Berkeley. It was a recommendation and I am so happy that I tried it. With a wonderful latte, it is the best place to get reading done for class. There are outdoor and indoor tables with nice background music the majority of the people are all there for the same reason, studying. I could easily make this my one study spot in Berkeley however I want to keep exploring new types of cafes.

The Elmwood Café – 5 cups

The Elmwood Café is the first time I felt like I a local in Berkeley, a feeling I love. Close enough to walk from campus but also part of the residential community. There are friends catching up, families out for brunch and individuals reading. The line up was out the door and the aroma of hot drinks and food filled the line. The menu changes every day using seasonal ingredients and fresh bakes goods and breads. The Elmwood Café donates half of their proceeds each month to a local Berkeley charity; as a customer you get to vote on the cause of the month. The coffee is served in a bowl, adding character of the drink. On the weekends it is packed and the music is hardly heard with everyone talking, however during the week there is light jazz playing in the background. It’s the perfect hide away to read for class while enjoying a scone.

Trouble Coffee Co. (& Coconut Club) – 5 cups

Trouble Coffee Co. is located at the end of the N streetcar line at the Pacific Ocean in the neighbourhood of Outer Sunset, started by a former Berkeley student, Giulietta Carrelli, who’s story about her struggles with mental illness and the creation of Trouble were documented on the radio show This American Life. A cousin of mine heard the story on NPR and told me I had to go and try the toast. Trouble is an eclectic and small coffee shop, there is very little indoor seating, but the outdoor seating is created out of trees and driftwood and titles with people’s names on them. Famous for starting the toast craze of San Francisco serving thick slices of bread with butter, sugar and cinnamon. The coffee was amazing but the toast was sensational, original yet classic. Toast is a comfort food that is nostalgic. The toast trend has not left San Francisco yet, but like the cupcake will be in every city sooner or later. A bonus besides the coffee is you can go to the Pacific Ocean, walk the beach, dip your toes in the water and see the immensity the oceans holds.


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