Huzzah! It’s National Coffee Day and I’m on board to celebrate! I’m from Seattle, so of course I was raised to be a coffee addict. Coffee has been there during many important times of my life. For me, coffee is both comforting and fueling. When I was writing my books (that are now published) I walked to a coffee shop every day because it was the only place I could sit and focus and knock out a few thousand words on my manuscript. Not only did these coffee shops allow me to focus, but by sipping on a well-crafted drink, I felt like I was having a treat!
So in honor of National Coffeee Day, I’m celebrating with a run down of my favorite coffee shops in Alameda, an charming island on the San Francisco Bay!
1223 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: 16 oz latte (for here) and a scone (warmed) with Devonshire cream.
What I also recommend: Lavendar latte, ginger lemonade, one of their tonic lattes or anything on the menu!
Julie’s is hands down, the best, or at least top two coffee shops in Alameda. I would argue that it’s one of the best coffee places in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, and that’s saying a lot. But I think it depends on your taste in ambience.
You’re actually going to get eye contact from your barista. Not only that, but the people that work there all come off as intelligent, creative and good at what they do! Being a barista doesn’t have to just be a job, it can be an art and this coffeehouse is a sanctuary for friends to get together, for artists to be inspired and for workaholics to get a fresh of breath air with their caffeine fix. The décor is Alice in Wonderland meets the Secret Garden, but in the most sophisticated way.
If you order a latte, it will be the smoothest, creamiest latte you’ve ever had, in a good way. And no matter what kind of milk or non milk you want, Julie’s had it for your specific needs or taste preferences. Julie’s Coffee and Tea is also the coffee shop where you’re most likely to find latte art in your drink, which I always enjoy. Back when I was in college, there was a tall, hunky, blonde man-bun barista (don’t judge me) and every time he put a heart in my latte foam, I secretly hoped it was for me lol. It wasn’t because it’s the most prevalent latte art installation. ;) The espresso at Julie’s is strong, in a great way! Even if you order a flavored latte, you’re going to be able to taste the high quality brew. Julie’s is all about coffee as it’s supposed to be. Order a machiatto and you’re going to get what you would have been given in Italy, not Starbuck’s impression of what a marketable machiatto would be.
*Tea* Although this post isn’t about tea, Julie’s gets an honorable mention because they have an entire wall of fresh loose leap tea. Even though I’m not a tea person, every time I have ordered tea here, it’s been amazing. I love the smoky black teas. Not ssure which tea you want? Ask the barista what they recommend.
Julie’s Coffee and Teahouse deserves a section for food because although the menu is small, it’s because they deal in quality. Quality, locally sourced ingredients, executed perfectly before it’s brought to you. Whether you want a soft boiled egg or a quiche or an amazing salad, you can’t make a wrong choice. My two must-haves when I come to Julie’s is either a scone with Devonshire cream in the AM with coffee or their toasted grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. When I was in college, I spent most of my income on scones with fresh Devonshire cream. My order was the same every day: Lemon ginger scones (with amazing flecks of candied ginger) and Devonshire cream, thick, and freshly made, a cold contrast against the lightly toasted scone. I love to bake, but I have never tasted a scone with such a perfect texture. When they stopped serving the Lemon Ginger scones and only offered other flavors, like currant, I was heart broken. The other flavors are amazing, but the Lemon Ginger had a special place in my heart. So special that I baked four batches of scones in two days trying to recreate the same perfect texture. But enough about the scones, I could probably dedicate an entire post to Julie’s scones. #SconeProblems Back to the grilled cheese. It’s the most amazing grilled cheese you will ever have. And the best part, you don’t feel like you’re going to have a heart attack after you eat it.
1518 Webster Street
Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: 16 oz Latte (for here)
What I also recommend: Tis the season for the Pumpkin Spice Latte! Wes Café has the most amazing pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever had. It’s so creamy and not too sweet. It actually taste like there’s real pumpkin puree in it!
Order anything you can dream up because they have syrups and flavors galore and aren’t afraid to use them. I hate sweet drinks usually but I walked up once and they had a cupcake syrup on the counter so I just had to try their Cupcake latte, and what do you know…it didn’t suck. 🙂 It was actually quite tasty. Don’t judge me!
Wes Café is one of my favorite places to enjoy a brew, along with Julie’s Coffee and Tea. I’d dare to say they’re both at the top of my list, I just enjoy strolling Park Street more than Webster. But both are great for a walk about!
Wes Café has an masculine feel to it that’s both earthy and modern. Think lots of wood planks (earthy) and marble and blackboards to keep things both modern and low key. The large art piece depicting a historical train is a nice nod to Alameda’s history.
2099 Grand Street Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: Large Iced Latte
I couldn’t keep completely cohesive with my post and do a hot latte because it was too darn hot outside. I ordered an iced latte and was given a cold brew, but the barista assured me it was the same thing. I was dubious, but whatever, it was strong and tasty. I also had a breakfast croissant sandwich and it was amazing.
Okay, can we talk about how charming this place is? Even if the coffee sucked (which it didn’t), this place would be worth sipping a day old cup of Joe if only for the view. It’s actually more of a stand than a shop, with only a bar and one table in the sun to sit. Definitely unplug at this place (no really, you have to) and enjoy watching kayakers paddle by and sail boats coming and going.
Pictured left is the view from the bar. That’s right, you’re literally sipping your coffee right on the Marina.
Come to Mosleys and soak up a quintessential Alameda view. You’ll remember that you’re on an island as you sip your coffee in the sun, watchers sailors leave for a day on the San Francisco Bay. Stick your thumb out, you might get lucky and hitch a ride around the most beautiful city in the world.
1650 Park St Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: 16 oz Latte (for here) and a Crème Brulee Bar
At eleven o’clock, I’m probably the only person under thirty, including the baristas. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it gives you an idea of the clientele. Meaning there aren’t too many college kids monopolizing the coffee tables. Yours truly used to be guilty of that of course, but now I’m the twenty-something coffee drinker that doesn’t want to feel like an underachiever every time I go to a coffee shop. That’s one thing I immediately like about the Beanery. Many people here are enjoying a coffee together, socializing. It gives the place a certain laid-back, unpretentious air.
But what about the coffee?
It’s great! I’m a sucker for a well done latte. Although there’s no crazy latte art in my Beanery mug, there is a nice enjoyable micro foam and strong espresso flavor.
The Crème Brule Bar I ordered is good, but I won’t rave about it and I definitely wouldn’t order it again. Although I can tell that quality ingredients were used, it’s basically a vanilla cheesecake bar. There’s nothing Crème Brule about it. This of course is coming from a bit of a Paris snob, but I don’t want to lead my readers astray either. There is a caramelized layer on top, but it isn’t crunchy as you would expect from anything crème brule. Since I fancy myself a decent baker, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t have done a separate layer to keep that crunch that’s typical of a Crème brule. The flavor doesn’t harken to the traditional French dessert either, but it does have a very good vanilla bean taste. If they called this a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake bar, I’d probably have better things to say. Everything taste good with a good cup of coffee though, am I right?
The Blue Danube
1333 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: 16 oz latte
My first impression
Each time I come here (usually it’s because somewhere else is full), I say I’m not going to come back. The place isn’t terrible, it’s just not the best coffee and it’s certainly not my scene. I’ll tell you why. The Blue Danube has the most potential out of all of the coffee shops in Alameda because it’s in one of the coolest buildings. Alameda, CA is known for it’s historical architecture, and the tall brick building has super tall ceilings (maybe fifty feet), a cool front door that’s almost nearly as tall, and old wood floors. That’s where the charm stops for me though. Well, I suppose that’s a bit harsh, I don’t hate the large wall chalkboard menu or couches toward the back of the place. I guess I’m just bummed because it looks like every other average coffee shop in Alameda. It’s obvious to me that the owners of the Blue Danube don’t have a passion for coffee or for the building they’re in. It’s almost like they thought, “Let’s open a coffee shop, it’ll be an easy moneymaker.” It’s true though, every single coffee shop on Park street is always packed. So it’s certainly not a bad investment.
But I personally feel like it’s a crime to be in a cool historical building like this and not show it off. Let’s see some exposed brick or traditional elements that I’m sure were in this building to begin with. Instead, it has gaudy green and orange walls that I can’t appreciate because it feels like it was supposed to be a part of a theme, but then got lost in translation. The only aspect of the décor I do love is the couches near the window and at the back. Very cozy.
The wall that stretches back through the shop is Laptop central. People are on their cell phones (annoying much?) and I can’t help but wonder if the owner of manager ever comes in this shop. I haven’t seen the high-school age baristas smile once. When I ordered I didn’t even get any eye contact. One thing about the vibe that I will say is positive, is that it’s definitely laid-back…obviously if people are on their phones right? Personally, I think that’s coffee shop sacrilege. 😉 But if you want to drink coffee in public and talk on your phone, The Blue Danube is for you!
But What About the Coffee, Jaye!?!? Who cares about the décor!
It’s…eh. It’s okay. My latte came in a nice thick mug, which I appreciate. The micro foam was…perhaps not true micro foam but close enough. It was a bit overly foamy for a true coffee snob, but I couldn’t do any better. Actually, that’s an apt comparison. This is the type of foam I can accomplish at home with my espresso maker. Not great, but not terrible. Definitely not latte art status. 😉 The flavor is good, but not super strong espresso taste. The milk taste light, not creamy like some of the other great coffee shops in Alameda.
The Bull Dog Café
3215 Encinal Ave Suite D Alameda, CA 94501
What I ordered: 16 oz Latte
I’ve always loved this location, the coffee house is located on a corner in a cool Victorian building. I’ve been here before, but not under this ownership. Honestly, it seems like this location goes through new ownership every couple years. After I walked in, I almost walked right back out. I kind of wish I would’ve, but I guess forcing yourself to experience something is the only way you can give an honest opinion. So why did I almost turn tail and walk out? They have speakers, which sound like they’ve been blown out, blasting pop hip-hop. Honestly I could probably put up with the pop-hip hop, but not through muffled, static-booming speakers. The music is so loud that I can’t even drown it out with my head phones. I don’t have the heart to say anything because I’m the only person in here and I’m sure the barista (who was very nice by the way) was probably just jamming out.
Beside my extreme distaste for the music playing way too loud on blown out speakers, the interior is enjoyable enough and filled to the brim with local art. The tables and chairs feel like they were stolen from an out-of-business diner, and not in a good way. They definitely give the feel of a new owner trying to save money. I wish I could peel the linoleum table tops off and put anything else on top, whether it’s just sand and stain or tile, anything would be better. Positives though are the many, many local paintings and photographs on the walls, and the tons of light that spills in. They have live music in the evenings, which I wasn’t able to experience, but I love that they offer that.
I wouldn’t come back for it. It’s okay. The espresso tastes strong, it’s just not my preference. It goes to the bottom of my reviewed lattes on this post. For those that like lighter, fluffier higher foams, this might be the place for you.
So…are you thirsty yet?
How are you celebrating National Coffee Day?
Do you have a healthy espresso buzz or are you scoffing at the coffee drinkers and enjoying some herbal tea instead. 😉
The Luv Aviatrix
Thinking about visiting some of these coffee shops? Pin this image for later!