A Guide to Oakland Coffee Shops
Around the early 2000s, right here in the town, a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic, weary of the commercial coffee enterprise and stale, overly roasted beans, decided to open a roaster for people who were clamoring for the actual taste of fresh coffee. His humble vision has since blossomed into a network of cafes across the United States, Japan, and Korea, with that being said, one of the more awe-inspiring installments among Oakland coffee shops is Blue Bottle’s Broadway location, housed within the East Bay’s first-ever truck showroom.
A modest and immaculate space, this store’s warm familiar glow attracts both its community of artisans and innovators, and everyone else who happens to meander on by. Whether you choose to stay inside or take your single origin, blend, or espresso coffee out to stroll the fortuitously sunny streets, understand that just a few minutes’ reprieve in a cafe like this one can feel like a tiny vacation.
Red Bay Coffee Roasters was founded by Keba Konte, a renowned artist and successful food entrepreneur with deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area specialty coffee and hospitality industry. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the specialty coffee beans this beloved java operation responsibly sources are meticulously roasted in small batches to ensure each bean receives the care needed to produce amazing brews.
Proudly Black-owned, Red Bay works tirelessly to improve the working and living standards for local communities. As a certified B-Corp, they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability. Lastly, the team here passionately cares about Mother Earth and is well on its way to using only fully compostable and recyclable materials.
Within the last year, the company expanded into its International Headquarters, a three-story, 11,000 square foot building constructed in 1930. The former bank prominently features “Beautiful Coffee to the People” on its Fruitvale Avenue facing side, whilst a step through the front door reveals a spacious, airy environment with plenty of bright natural lighting, comfortable seating, and vibrant green plants dappled throughout.
As the only 100% plant-based coffee roastery and bakery around, Timeless provides a product and experience unlike anything else, perhaps underscored most by scrumptious vegan pastries made fresh in-house daily.
Their recently opened store on Webster Street is worth bragging about too, the room features minimalistic white surfaces budding to life with a moody rose-filled mural by none other than Freddy Corbin, pink neon signage, and well-tended to potted plants. Whatever the occasion may be, it’s a great spot to meet a friend, grab a health-conscious bite, and even get some work done.
Near and dear to bustling Jack London Square, Bicycle is a family-owned gem among Oakland coffee shops. For over a decade now, the folks here have been roasting high-quality, sustainably farmed java and delivering it to local businesses by bicycle. If you’re a fan of CBD-infused delicacies, we’d suggest trying their line of Sparkling CBD beverages, which includes a house favorite with Yerba Mate.
A portion of their sales goes to World Bike Relief, an international organization that mobilizes and empowers people through the power of bicycles.
Founded on the beliefs that coffee shouldn’t be complicated and it shouldn’t cost a fortune, women-owned and operated modern offers guests the unique opportunity to sample a rotating selection of the country’s most delicious roasters, including but not limited to Chromatic Coffee Co, Counter Culture Coffee, Linea Caffe, Stumptown Coffee, and Verve Coffee Roasters. Though every tasty sip certainly has plenty to do with the java craftsmanship behind their countertop, the reasonable pricing adds just a tad more enjoyment.
After reading an article on the benefits of home roasting using a hot air popcorn maker, Cafe Santana founder Richard Santana was hooked! To his dismay, he found that it worked exceptionally well, but still, he knew that he could do even better. These days, Santana roasts coffee beans from the world’s premier growing regions using the Legendary SF25: Environmentally Friendly Small-Batch Coffee Roaster, which gives him the ability to brew handcrafted beauty by the cup for his surrounding community. Quaint, wholesome, and infused with Latin flair, this friendly abode is conveniently located just off I-580, in the Laurel District.
A perfect destination for catching up with loved ones, this multi-level Uptown cafe was established in 1989 and offers everything from magazines to board games to cornhole in the street. On top of locally roasted coffee, those visiting Farley’s can expect to encounter fresh pastries and treats, grilled panini sandwiches, salads, and an awfully tempting selection of beer and wine.
Keeping with the good vibes, Farley’s hosts a myriad of festive events throughout the year such as an Annual Halloween Pet Parade and Costume Contest – where 100 dogs and their owners parade up 18th Street from Arkansas Street to Farley’s to compete for prizes – bagpipes on St. Patrick’s Day, and a Safe-n-Sane fireworks show on the 4th of July.
You can’t miss this big blue brick storefront when cruising down near the intersection of 7th and Union Streets, it’s home to family-run Orbit, an aesthetically gratifying stop for java drinkers and sweet-toothed doughnut connoisseurs alike. They are especially known for their Vietnamese Robusta coffee (2x caffeine), which is roasted strong and dark in Oakland and balanced to perfection with sweetened condensed milk. Be sure to explore other delectable amalgamations like the oreo cookie crumb enriched, chocolate drizzled Dark Matter or Messier 51, topped with house-made sweet and creamy ube cheese foam.
Nestled in the heart of downtown, Awaken has both served exceptional coffee and functioned as a welcoming neighborhood gathering place since opening in 2008. The cafe is easy to spot thanks to a couple of bright yellow umbrellas providing shade for its outdoor patio, and once inside, guests are greeted by an overall cozy ambiance, ample seating arrangements, wooden furnishings, but keep in mind, no WiFi, that’s right, it’s time to hang up and hang out with friends over a soul-warming cup of joe.
As some of the very first craft roasters in the Bay Area, and on the west coast for that matter, the family behind Peerless has offered premium coffee and tea to local restaurants and hotels since 1924. Fast forward 95 years, three generations, and many awards later, and they’ve recently received the coveted 2019 Roaster of the Year award from Roast Magazine, a leading resource for specialty coffee. This is a once-in-a-lifetime recognition, shared with just a handful of the best-known craft coffee roasting names in America.
Come for the world-class java but maybe plan to grab and enjoy elsewhere as the shop itself is intimately sized and affords little seating for guests.
One of the more spacious downtown Oakland coffee shops, complete with ample comfy seating, wooden tabletops, framed art, tile floors, and high ceilings, the atmosphere at Tierra Mia embodies a gorgeous combination of traditional Latin decor and chandelier-lit elegance. The drinks are uniquely tantalizing too, with signature creations such as the Chocolate Mexicano and Rica & Beans Frappes, your taste buds will be begging for an uncharted, flavorsome adventure. A pro tip, the Horchata Frap is flawless, simply can’t go wrong with that.
If you enjoyed this guide to the best Oakland coffee shops, be sure to check out our list of the Top 10 Coffee Shops in San Jose!