The best coffee shops in and around San Jose, California

September 29, 2015

Verve Coffee - Santa Cruz

I’m in love with coffee. I love the warmth of that first sip, the smell of rich, dark, luxurious beans floating out of my mug. I love the creamy and deep flavors of caramel and chocolate or sometimes grapefruit and coconut. Coffee is sexy and alerts the senses. It’s mysterious and complex. 

Coffee sort of sounds like the perfect man, doesn’t it?

Coffee Latte Art

For all the reasons I love coffee, I also love exploring new coffee shops and roasters. There are an over abundance of coffee houses but not all are created equal. In my coffee-snobbery opinion, most coffee shops are crap. They’re lacking in that hipster vibe, that coffee passion, and actual good, quality beans.

In my fair share of coffee searching and tasting, I’ve found and rounded up the best coffee shops in my area. These are based off of flavor, quality, and overall experience. These favorites are listed in alphabetical order and my top favorites are noted below.

Raise a mug for the 8 best coffee shops in the South Bay Area, California. 

 

1. Barefoot Coffee (favorite!)

Campbell, CA

VooDoo Mocha - Barefoot

With some pretty unique menu offerings and damn good coffee, Barefoot in Campbell, CA is a must-try coffee shop. 

If feeling adventurous, try the Orange Ginger Cubano Latte (with soy milk). This is a rich and creamy drink with bursts of orange essence and ginger powder infused into the soy milk. Hands down one of my favorite drinks of all time, from any place.

Another amazing drink is the VooDoo. Iced or hot, this mocha-on-steroids is something straight out chocolate heaven. Dark chocolate mixed with rich coconut milk and bit of coconut, then swirled with espresso, this drink is another Barefoot must-try.

If you’re in a coffee mood, this place locally roasted pour-overs are great. They usually have two to three different blends to pick from and beans available to purchase.

Must-try’s:

  • Orange Ginger Cubano Latte (hot)
  • VooDoo Mocha (iced or hot)
  • Pour-over coffee

VooDoo Mocha - Barefoot

Bring your laptop or a book and sit in one of the small, intimate tables located inside or grab one of the few tables outside. Great place to work or hang out for a few minutes before continuing on your day.

Or bring with you camping…

barefootcamping

 

2. Whole Foods Market (favorite!)

Alameda, San Jose, CA

Two words: Mammoth Coffee.

Hot coffee blended with coconut oil and grass-fed butter- served hot and frothy. Sounds odd. Tastes AMAZING. Don’t knock it, ’til you try it. Serious. Addicting and delicious.

wholefoodsmammoth

Mammoth coffee is served at most Whole Foods Markets in California and a wonderful addition to their already pretty decent cafes. My new favorite place for coffee, almond milk lattes, unique green juices, and killer green smoothies. 

Must-try’s:

  • Mammoth Coffee
  • Almond milk latte
  • Almond Butter Cup Smoothie (almond milk, almond butter, banana, cacao, protein powder, agave and cinnamon)
  • PB&J Smoothie: almond milk, almond butter, raspberries, protein powder, chia seeds and dates)
  • Any green juice

Don’t forget to get a punch card for racking up free drinks!

 

3. B2

Downtown San Jose, CA

I love the atmosphere within San Jose’s San Pedro Market and love that there’s some decent coffee (aka: hipster coffee) within this space. The fact that B2 serves Verve and Sightglass coffee is plus. 

Coffee pour-overs are the thing to get here. Their lattes and other specialty drinks are decent but no Barefoot (see above). Often times not as hot as I’d like them, or not quite robust on the espresso flavors, I’ll get just a coffee to satisfy my caffeine needs.

There is free wifi here, inside and outside the building, but works spottily, at best. The tables, high bar seating, booths and outside seating offer something for everyone and makes for a great place to get a little work done, again when the wifi is working.

Overall, it’s a great place and fun atmosphere, has decent coffee, and plenty of other places to eat at or walk to within the San Pedro Square Market area.

If you’re looking up B2 but want the flavor with a real coffee shop feel, check out their other location and storefront, Bellano (also listed in notable favorites at the end of this post).

 

4. BLVD Coffee

Los Gatos, CA

Small but mighty. Set in a small shopping center in Los Gatos, this hidden coffee shop has been pouring great coffees for years. Aside from the family/owner-sourced beans, this place houses specialty drinks, pour-overs, build-your-own crepes and omelettes. Scones, muffins, baked goods a-plenty, if you’re feeling hungry, this is a great place to stop.

Super friendly staff and family owned and run, you feel right at home upon arrival. Always pretty packed inside with patrons that are definitely regulars.

 

San-Jose-Coffee-Chromatic_Cafe

5. Chromatic Coffee

San Jose, CA

Spin-off of Barefoot Coffee (above) and decently comparable. Drinks are pretty good and espresso is very smooth, although the drinks tend to be on the sweet side so make sure to request less sweet. I tend to stick with an almond milk latte but their pour-over coffees are on spot and they have specialty drinks that are super decadent and worth trying once in your life:

  • Dark Coconut Mocha (similar to the Barefoot Voodoo)
  • Borgia
  • Almond milk latte

As most hipster places are, this shop gets pretty busy during peak hours so be prepared to wait in a solid line for your drink order. Thankfully, the staff is friendly and has remained mostly constant throughout the years. 

They do have loyalty program that goes by your name. Buy 10 drinks and get 1 free (bonus).

 

la-panotiq

6. La Panotiq

Campbell, CA

Endearing setting, beautiful and very “French” interior, wonderful staff, amazing coffee and tasty food! Oh and totally fresh ingredients! I truly love this place.  

Upon entering the shop you feel like you’ve traveled miles and miles to a cozy little French bakery, all filled with the smell of freshly baked bread and wafting richness of espresso. Freshly baked breads and pastries (and house-made chocolates!), sandwiches beaming with French hams and thinly sliced pruscutto, loaded salads line the glass case, as you wait for your order. All drool-worthy!

I’ve enjoyed many almond milk lattes here, along with brewed coffee. Both incredible. Plus, they actually have almond milk available.

campbell_LaPanotiQ-3

Must-try’s:

  • Jambon Fromage – Ham, brie cheese, and butter (WOW. WOW. Order warmed up!)
  • Niçoise Salad – Green beans, potatoes, radishes, eggs, tomatoes, capers, anchovies, kalamata olives, and tuna in a house made tarragon vinaigrette (WOW again. SO SO good.)
  • Almond milk latte
  • Bicycle coffee pour-over or old brew coffee

Once again, I love this place! It’s a great place to set up shop with a book or computer for working. Bonus for the beautiful European music softly floating in the background.

 

philz

7. Philz

Los Gatos, CA

The local wonder that is Philz offers up some crazy drinks. All of the drinks are made with freshly brewed coffee, then flavored, milked (if you’re getting milk or an alternate), iced or kept hot, and served.

Notable and crazy good drinks fill their menu, such as:

  • Mint Mojito (sweetened coffee with tons of mint leaves muddled in this amazing drink)
  • Ginger Snap (tastes like a ginger snap cookie)
  • Mocha Tesora

Amazing customer service with happy people taking your drink order, or simply investigating what you may like. They’re kind of like mixology for coffee. If you can’t decide on something from their semi-confusing menu, they’ll ask you some questions on coffee/drink preferences, get a feel for what flavors you may like, then recommend a drink based on that. 

Plus that the Los Gatos Philz location is near the Los Gatos Creek Trail so you can easily bike around the trail, head to Philz to caffeinated yourself, then hop back on the trail and head for home.

 

Verve Coffee Croissant

8. Verve Coffee Roasters (favorite!)

Santa Cruz, CA

Hipster. Hip! Cool vibe. Delicious drinks! Love this place. Every time I visit Santa Cruz (which is often) I head to Verve for a fuel-up or refuel of liquid energy. They make the best almond milk lattes in the South Bay area. Seriously. And they don’t stop there. Mochas are great, beautifully dusted with dark cocoa powder and a heart of latte/espresso foam. The Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is incredible. Super silky smooth, lightly carbonated, fully caffeinated coffee. Tastes like a perfectly brewed Guinness beer but way better. Did I mention Kombucha on tap?!

NOTE: TRY THE BULLEIT BOURBON WHISKEY SYRUP FOR YOUR LATTE –worth the calories

They also have Bowls of Soul. I haven’t found these since my days in college in Chico, CA.. but the search is over. The Bowl of Soul is a single tea bag steeped among steamed milk AND honey. Steamed honey within the milk is the real deal. The game changer. I digress…

Anyway, you get the idea that all the drinks are divine. The interior of Verve at the Downtown Santa Cruz location is fun, light and lively, always buzzing with people… lots of people. It’s a great spot to work from if you can find a table or counter space. There’s a lot of places to sit inside, if you can find a place, or a few tables outside. NOTE: there are NO outlets available so come fully charged- your computer, you can charge yourself with your coffee order once you arrive.

I also love all the fun items to purchase- cookbooks, branded mugs and hoodies, freshly roasted and packaged coffee beans, giant loaded and gluten-free cookies, amazing looking donutscroissants, indulgent muffins.

Great place to check out again and again and again. 🙂

 

Other great places:

Bellano, San Jose, CA

Bitter + sweet, Cupertino, CA

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alisa @ Go Dairy Free October 2, 2015 at 1:32 PM

This is awesome Lori! I’m definitely going to go through to make sure I have all on my website (will link back for any that I don’t!)

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