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Nov 17, 2011 02:34 PM

Looking for a shop-for-coffee, not coffee shop


I recently moved to California from NY, and brought with me the whole family which includes the two items I could never leave behind (of course, besides wife and son - just in case they're reading): coffee grinder and espresso machine. Simply put, I'm looking for a place to buy the material that goes inside, the beans. While on the other coast I knew exactly where to go and buy them, I obviously need to find a replacement... I'm not looking for a place where you only see "Breakfast floral morning bliss...", but a simple description of: type, origin and roast. So far I'm surviving with a few variations I found at Peet's and Berkeley Bowl which are very good, but I definitely miss making my own blends of Arabica and Robusta, ... can only dream right now. So could anyone help?

Thank you in advance!

Berkeley Bowl
2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

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  1. Oh, really sorry, I forgot to mention that I'm in the Berkeley/Emeryville area.


    1. Not sure where you can make your own blends (though there must be places).

      But my current favorite place to buy already-made-up blends (I love Max's blend) is Cole Coffee, College Ave, Oakland.

      p.s. it's funny, when I go to NY, one of the things I miss about the Bay Area is great coffee!

      Cole Coffee
      3179 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94705

      1 Reply
      1. re: sundeck sue

        Haha! that's funny! So you know exactly how I feel :). One thing I have to say (but it's not saying much) is that Starbucks here is better than the other coast. But once you remove the other factors (baristas, machines, grain size, etc., etc.) all you need is good, consistent source of beans. So thank you and the other for recommendations, I will start my hunt this weekend!

      2. Check with Peerless Coffee and Country Cheese,

        BTW see some thoughts of Mr. Vukasin in this article about Robustas. Peerless does apparently custom blend and "we" do know Robusta is not commonly found around the "good" coffee.

        Country Cheese
        1578 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: wolfe

          Yes, that article is right on the spot! I've been actually doing very similar things, mixing a small percent of Robusta in Arabica and found that it does make a big difference. I know in general price is a good indication of quality, but I believe personal taste is the better judge.

        2. Blue Bottle, which roasts in Oakland but has a nice large store near 5th and Mission, and is eminently BARTable. A cut above everything else, particularly when it comes to espresso beans. They have espresso specific beans as well as some single origins that make outstanding espresso
          Four Barrel in San Francisco, on Mission near 15th is also quite good.
          Sightglass on 7th Street in SF is also very good.
          There's also Ritual, on Valencia, which is tasty as well
          you can also do some research on your own at

          Blue Bottle Cafe
          66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1. Wow! Thank you all! I will definitely try some of these places and see how they fare.