Beyond Starbucks


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.