Short Impressions of Coffee Shops around Berkeley (Continually Updated)


To my friend Aaron who even though dislikes coffee but still reads all my blog posts on them

I have not updated this blog for some time. Got some reviews written up, but got kind of lazy to publish them here. Since my first semester at Berkeley is almost ending, I feel like it is a good time to write a short review of all the coffee shops I’ve been to. This will be continually updated as I visit more coffee shops around the campus.

(Last updated on 4/14/19, added the review of  Romeo’s Coffee)

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On Campus

Babette South Hall Coffee Bar

South Hall, Berkeley, CA 94704

One of the first coffee shop I have visited at Berkeley when I was walking back from Foothill to Sather Gate during the GBO orientation week. A tiny espresso machine set up. The drinks are not overpriced. Ordered an iced Americano. The taste isn’t too offensive to the tongue.

Free Speech Movement Cafe

3rd Floor Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720

Visited during Cal Day, ordered a Latte. It did not leave a strong impression on my “non-refined” taste back then. Visited again after school starts. Ordered an iced Americano, pretty much my go-to drink. Way overly bitter; though does not taste smokey or over-roasted. Did not finish the whole cup.

Yali’s Stanley Hall Cafe

Stanley Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720

Seems to be a cool place. Ordered a Latte, my go-to drink. They claimed that they use beans from Equator Coffee, a pretty decent roaster. The latte tasted quite good. I also tried the macchiato my friend ordered; there are some exotic flavor notes, such as passion fruit and banana. (This is also the place where I realized I have lost the ability to digest lactose… It’s pretty depressing)

Southside

1951 Coffee Company

2410 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

The best coffee shop around the campus, period. I come here very frequently on Sunday morning for breakfast. Latte and Cappuccino are smooth and tasty. They also do pour over. The Ethiopian origin has the sweetness I would have never imagined appearing in coffee. Their pour over is what brings me to the coffee world. I bought several Verve single origins from here. Last time I went I noticed they are also selling their own roasted beans. Excited, will update later after I’ve tried them.

Cafe Strada

2300 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

Went there once due to the high rated reviews. Ordered an Espresso to go. It was… fine? My tongue back then cannot judge the quality. Will probably try it again sometimes.

SodoI Coffee Tasting House

2438 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

A very hidden coffee shop. They are selling their own roasted beans, which is always a good sign. Tried their light roast for pour over, “Memory of Arashiyama.” It was pretty good. I quite enjoyed the blend: an appropriate amount of sweetness and sourness combines with a touch of “spiciness.” Would recommend.

Romeo’s Coffee

2499 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

One of the more popular coffee shops on the Southside. Classic espresso drinks and some interesting selections of pour-overs. The pour-overs are not named after the beans’ origins but rather have fancy names like “violent delight.” Though I would not prefer this way, I do not necessarily disagree with this practice as it can appeal to non-coffee enthusiasts. The caffeine amount indications on the menu may represent the roast level. The pour-over systems are self-designed, more similar to drip coffee machine with a single pour technique and flat bottom design. I ordered the “violent delight” to try it out. It did not impress me. The flavor is overall dull and “shrouded” by bitterness. Cannot tell if it is caused by the roasting method or the brewing method. I do like to commend them for their effort in popularizing pour-overs.

Peet’s Coffee

2501 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

How can I talk about Berkeley coffee but not talk about Peet’s? In all honesty, I would choose Peet’s over Starbucks any day. I have always enjoyed their iced latte, bit taste of cream and berry. The cold brew is also pretty good, interesting combination of nutty and fruity flavor. (Though there is a slight hint of cardboard/paper taste?) I’ve tried some of their single origins. The review of Ethiopian Fancy can be found in this blog.

Westside

Starbucks

2128 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA 94704

It’s Starbucks as one would expect. Nothing special.

Blue Bottle Coffee

1026, 2118 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

I really enjoyed my time there. It’s just depressing that the company was purchased by Nestle. Focus on the coffee itself, the Ethiopian single origin cold brew is exceptionally good. Very strong berry/wine taste. Cannot believe how they create such fruity note in a cold brew. Probably the best cold brew I’ve had.

Northside

Brewed Awakening

1317, 1807 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

Seems like the cold brew is their specialty. Ordered a nitro cold brew, surprised to see that it is brewed for 24 hours. The taste is a bit disappointing. Too bitter for my liking for cold brew, though the combination of fruity flavor with sparkling nitro is at least enjoyable.

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