Beyond Starbucks

Posted on August 30, 2010

Chocolate Fish Coffee
Chocolate Fish Coffee Photography by Gabriel Teague

The Sacramento region runneth over with indie alternatives to corporate coffeehouses. In the interest of supporting local business—and, yes, the completely selfish impulse for a rockin’ jolt of java—I went on a little search-and-find mission and discovered these gems.



The Place: Chocolate Fish Coffee 400 P St., Sacramento
The 411: New Zealand-style coffee is the niche at this downtown spot featuring leather chairs and loveseats, a coffee bar and a spacious, well-shaded patio.
Coffee Talk: Fairly basic menu, with the distinction that all espresso drinks contain a double ristretto (restricted) shot, meaning it’s pulled short and is, therefore, richer. Baked goodies, too.
Taste Test: A “flat white”—i.e., short latte, less milk—served in an elegant mahogany cup and saucer. Superb.
The Verdict: Extraordinary coffee + friendly baristas + appeal-ing ambiance = my new favorite coffeehouse.

The Place: Bloom Coffee & Tea 1485 Eureka Road, Roseville
The 411: Pristine and minimalist, with neatly arranged seating areas (indoor/outdoor) and sparse electronica playing in the background, Bloom offers an urban edge in the middle of suburbia.
Coffee Talk: Short, smart menu with French-press brews, a nice selection of organic teas and tasty pastries from Old Soul Co.
Taste Test: Shakerato, a bracingly bold Italian iced espres-so, shaken like a martini and served in a tall, sleek glass.
The Verdict: Cool spot, but verging on cold: Neither of the baristas broke a smile.

The Place: Coffee Garden 2904 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento
The 411: This bohemian Curtis Park hangout has a lush, rambling patio that feels like a backyard, assorted seating options, and eclectic art and knickknacks everywhere. 
Coffee Talk: No frou-frou Frappuccinos here; Coffee Garden keeps the menu simple. But it offers more food than most, with sandwiches, salads, breakfast items, even pizza.
Taste Test: Iced Americano with a splash of vanilla soy milk. Decent coffee, on the strong side.
The Verdict: Coffee Garden is as much about the garden as the coffee, and that’s a beautiful thing, especially when you’re sitting under the misters on a warm afternoon. Aah.

The Place: Maestro Coffeehouse & Gallery 2069 Arena Blvd., Sacramento
The 411: An unexpectedly stylish coffeehouse in an otherwise bland looking Natomas shopping complex, with comfy leather chairs, a case full of books and local art on the walls.
Coffee Talk: An endless list of options—everything from a basic latte to an iced caramel mocha—plus a small
smattering of baked goods.
Taste Test: Iced Nutty Caramel, milky and delicately sweet. May I just say yum?
The Verdict: An inviting spot, made more inviting by the incred-ibly friendly service; my barista even asked, “What do you like? Vanilla? Mocha? Caramel?” Big thumbs up.

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