Around town with Allison: Tertulia Coffee, where coffee meets art 

Allison Fong/Staff

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Being the busy UC Berkeley students that we are, it’s not hard to find ourselves confined within our little Berkeley bubble. While the beginning of the semester is always filled with personal goals of exploring more of the Bay Area and becoming a #bayareafoodie, life (aka midterms, and lots of them) gets in the way. The little bit of free time that we each have in our busy schedules is precious, sacred time — we want to spend it somewhere worthwhile.  

While it may be comforting to surround yourself with familiar sites and sounds, there’s so much more to explore in the Bay Area. If you don’t know this already, Telegraph Avenue is a very long street. In fact, it stretches 4.5 miles from the south side of campus all the way to Downtown Oakland — mind blowing, I know. On this lengthy stretch of shops, cafes, restaurants and everything in between, exists several different neighborhoods: Southside, Temescal and Uptown, just to name a few. While you drive down Telegraph Avenue, it’s easy to miss the neighborhood gems that get lost among the more striking scenes such as the Fox Theater with its bold red and white colored lights, the insanely long lines outside of Marufuku Ramen, Cholita Linda and Burma Superstar and the insane murals sprinkled throughout Telegraph Avenue. To give y’all a head start on your exploration of the Bay Area, here’s a spot that holds a special place in my heart.

Where coffee meets art, Tertulia Coffee is the creation of Tim and Maria Sanchez. This husband and wife duo have built something beautiful for the residents of the Bay Area from their love for coffee and art — talk about #couplegoals, am I right? Located in Uptown, this spot is the perfect blend of a coffee shop and an art gallery. Maria curates the art whereas Tim handles the coffee side of things. Together, they’ve created a relaxing space for people to enjoy caffeinated beverages, appreciate art and talk to one another. 

Sanchez Contemporary is the art gallery portion of Tertulia. Supporting locals and artists of color, especially those in the Chicanx and Lainx communities, Sanchez Contemporary is a place for artists to have their work displayed in a professional setting. The pieces rotate every four to six weeks so there’s always something new to engage in when you visit Tertulia. The works on display are products of the creative minds of emerging and renowned artists. Providing artists with a safe space to thrive in the purest form of their creativity and an opportunity to garner the support that they deserve, this is truly what makes Tertulia so special.

Tertulia offers visitors a moment to be present and enjoy the company of others. In order to harness that environment, Tertulia doesn’t offer Wi-Fi. You might be thinking: What do you mean there’s no Wi-Fi? That was exactly my thought when I first visited Tertulia, shocked that there was no Wi-Fi. However, after taking a seat and sipping my oat milk latte, I realized that I didn’t need Wi-Fi. Instead, I took a stroll around the art gallery and proceeded to journal and people-watch. As I looked around it was really refreshing to see that no one was on their laptops, rather they were engaged in thought and/or conversation. 

With a big open space with lots of natural light, seating and, not to mention, all the jams, Tertulia offers a welcoming space for everyone. Having an art gallery within steps of your table is a treat for multiple reasons. I see it as a way to inspire your own work or life and to bring your attention to the present moment. What speaks the loudest and truest about this place is the passion that Tim and Maria have for Tertulia Coffee and Sanchez Contemporary. The love and care that they both have for coffee and art is very clear the moment you step into the sun-soaked space of Tertulia Coffee. Bring a book or a friend and head over to Tertulia for a great coffee, amazing artwork and a good time! 

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