This article was written in 2005.
Santa Cruz is a town located 70 miles south of San Francisco and just ‘over the hill’ from San Jose in California. The town is a tourist magnate for its beaches and bucolic downtown.
There is no shortage of coffee houses here. In fact there is one on just about every corner. There are not many bad ones and a few good ones with the majority just mediocre. We have a few Starbucks but mostly you will find a whole bunch of independents.
I will not tell you what I think of Starbucks except to say that you will not find me there ordering a ‘venti’ anything.
Of the independents I would recommend Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters located right on Pacific Ave. downtown. It is a high volume shop and you will probably not be super impressed by the coffee. The house brew is well balanced and acidic. I am pretty sure it’s a Central American blend.
Cafe Chocolate on Pacific Ave. makes a passable brew and don’t miss the hot chocolate menu (busy on weekends).
Cafe Bene is on Cedar Street downtown and has a very loyal local crowd. They serve up good coffee in a cool atmosphere.
Right around the corner is the Union (on Union Street) which is located in a really cool old factory building. It still has some of the factory fixtures. There is a piano and lots of indoor and outdoor space. Unfortunately the coffee is a little raunchy.
Lava Rocks on Seabright Ave is a good coffee shop with a huge bank of computers, wifi etc. It has a big volcano in the middle of the shop – tre cool. Get your good coffee here and take it over to Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe for killer breakfast (they serve lousy coffee).
Off the beaten path is Java Bobs roasting (not a cafe). The owner, Rich (not Bob) is a great guy who loves to talk coffee and will sell you his freshly roasted beans right out of the 55 gallon garbage bins.
There is the Chill Out on 41st Avenue in Capitola. They serve a strong and dark brew that contradicts the name. This is a short list to help you get a good cuppa Joe in my hometown.
March 2007 UPDATE: I received word that Java Rocks has closed down and The Union was turned into a brewery.
2014 UPDATE: If you are in Santa Cruz, check out Verve Coffee Roasters.