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Around town with Allison: To bean or not to bean? Best local coffee roasters

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NOVEMBER 12, 2018

I have a confession: I’m addicted to coffee. As a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, I’ve had my fair share of coffee — the good and the bad. I start my days with a cup of coffee right when I wake up, followed by another cup that I sip on in lecture. My midday pick-me-up is a refreshing cold brew, and I have a relaxing pour-over as a pre-dinner snack. Although I make my own coffee at home, I also buy a lot of coffee. I think you can all relate when I say that things always taste better when someone else makes it for you.

As many of you know, I love supporting local businesses, especially when it’s coffee-related. Why? The answer is very simple: Supporting local coffee roasters means fresher coffee and less greenhouse gases emitted through transportation. It’s a win for both you and the environment. As someone from the Bay Area, I’m living my best life as a caffeinated gal with her several cups of local East Bay coffee. So, friends, join me in the celebration of the wondrous good that the East Bay has to offer with a list of my favorite local coffee roasters!

Artís Coffee


Our Fourth Street favorite, Artís, has been killing the local coffee game. With a live roast bar, Artís roasts 1 pound at a time, so you better believe that these beans are insanely fresh. If you ever happen to be in this coffee shop when it’s roasting beans, you’ll literally melt into your seat from the tantalizing aromas of the coffee beans. That is fact.

Highwire Coffee Roasters


With its insanely balanced brew, Highwire Coffee is a well-known name in the East Bay. With several locations around the East Bay, Highwire serves its mean brew with little fuss. If you’re ever on this side of town, its San Pablo Avenue location has a great mural of the moon — now that’s out of this world!

Bicycle Coffee


Located in Oakland’s Jack London Square, this spot is a major game-changer in the coffee scene. Offering locally roasted organic coffee beans, Bicycle Coffee delivers its little bags of happiness via bicycle. Although the shop’s selection is not as extensive as others’, Bicycle definitely focuses on quality over quantity with its beans.

Scarlet City Coffee Roasting


I love supporting local businesses, especially when they support good causes. Scarlet City is owned by Jen St. Hilaire and Susanna Handow, and together, they emphasize the importance of sisterhood in the economy. Sourcing coffee from women-owned farms and supporting women’s rights projects, Scarlet City Coffee offers both delicious, medium-roast coffee and a chance for social change. I mean, what’s not to love?

AKA Coffee


Previously known as Supersonic, AKA Coffee offers the same delicious coffee, just with a different name. Serving both single-origins and blends, AKA Coffee has been ranked as one of the top roasters in the East Bay. (And rightfully so!) Not convinced? Pick up an aesthetically pleasing bag of these aromatic beans. Do it.

Blue Bottle Coffee


As one of the pioneers who started it all, Blue Bottle began in Oakland’s Jack London Square during the early 2000s and has grown into one of the biggest names in the coffee industry. With locations all over the world, Blue Bottle is a perfect example of the potential and impact that a coffee company can make. With a variety of single-origins, blends and espresso, there’s really something for everyone.

Devout Coffee


Started by two brothers, Jon and Stevie, in their garage, Devout Coffee is truly a labor of love. Located on the historic Niles Boulevard of Fremont, Devout Coffee offers a coffee bar and roastery — and an insanely aesthetic one at that. Enjoy your coffee as you watch coffee beans being freshly roasted right before your eyes.

Slojoy Coffee Roasters


A combination of “slow” and “enjoy,” Slojoy puts a lot of love into the craft of coffee roasting. This spot serves amazing single origins, roasting its beans right by its walk-up window coffee shop. With handwritten notes on every cup and an option to order a “cup of joy,” a pay-it-forward option, this spot makes my heart explode. Slojoy’s a keeper, y’all.

Do I consume a healthy amount of coffee? No, far from it — but my crazy consumption of coffee has taught me a lot about this beloved bean. Remember, folks, knowledge is power — even if it’s coffee knowledge. Now for those of you who don’t drink coffee, you might (justifiably) think that I’m actually insane, but coffee’s much more than just bean water. Every company has its own take on its roasts, but the one thing that these companies have in common is that they roast their beans right here in the East Bay! Small-batch roasters pay more attention and give more care to their craft, which makes it even more special. So cheers to just that — to celebrating the amazing local coffee roasters in the East Bay!

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 12, 2018