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Bars, Clubs & Coffeehouses: Coffeehouses

Located along a quiet stretch of Washington Street in downtown Oakland, Caffe 817 — under the ownership of Scott and Emily Goldenberg — offers a European cafe experience with meals worth the relatively high prices. Loyal customers come back for the delicious Italian flourishes in breakfast and lunch offerings, with daily specials that appeal to the palette, the eye, and, when read aloud, to the ear — “Roasted pork shoulder sandwich with arugula and aioli.” The service, though sometimes slow, is solicitous, and the baristas make impressive coffee art, as worthy of display as the latest art show on the walls. On a sunny day, sidewalk seating under umbrellas perfects the experience. Bottled beer and wine selections vary with the season.

Seize the day at this small Dimond District coffee shop, where the iced drinks come reinforced with coffee ice cubes and the wi-fi is free.

The birthplace of the caffe latte and a meeting place for everyone from academics to artist types, Caffe Med serves up a satiating mix of coffee drinks, teas, breakfast fare, sandwiches, and more.

Whether you're looking to socialize, study, or people-watch, Caffe Strada provides the venue (including a large outdoor patio) and the location (directly across the street from campus) to do it. Its cafe mochas aren't bad, either.

The outdoor entrance to this small cafe is like the entrance to a knock-knock club, hard to find and not inviting. Keep faith as you enter and proceed into the dimness, rounding a corner to emerge in a small, lamp-lit space with the cafe counter to your left. Now take two steps forward and look to the right. The view astonishes. Mammoth columns reach to the sky inside the Oakland Rotunda building. As if in counterpoint to the sublimity, the cafe serves simple, reasonably priced fare — toasted bagel with an egg option, pastries, and a standard selection of espresso drinks, four types of pre-made salads, daily soup, and sandwiches such as turkey and roast beef. Free wi-fi and a comfortable couch, with several issues of Oprah and House Beautiful neatly arrayed on the coffee table.

Despite their sheer numbers, cafes are never unpopular for Berkeleyites wanting to chat with friends over soy cappuccinos or pretending to write a research paper while engaging in some serious people-watching. Apparently, Caffe Trieste’s location in Berkeley’s "West Bank" is the perfect spot for such social anthropological study, as it’s situated at the corner of busy San Pablo Avenue and Dwight Way, and has the type of baristas who wonder why you haven’t shown up in the last few weeks. With tiny white lights strung from the ceiling and bottles of Pinot Grigio and Chianti on the counter, this cafe’s Euro vibe is accentuated with traditional Italian music rotating with Argentine tango every Monday night. If you love Italy but aren’t in love with Italy, Caffe Trieste also books varying live jazz acts every Tuesday, and a range of other live music on Friday nights.

A beloved neighborhood cafe and roastery that hosts a coffee club, with a pound of coffee from around the world sent out each month.

Located in downtown Oakland, this is a serviceable cafe for a bite on the run or a pleasant lunch break in the courtyard outside. If you have a sweet tooth, try a slice of rich, frosting-laden cake, a pastry, or a sugar-bomb cereal such as Fruit Loops and Coco Puffs. There’s also a decent salad bar to offset the guilt of indulgence, as well as pre-packaged wraps and salads. The fair trade and organic-certified coffee is roasted locally by the McLaughlin Coffee Company in Emeryville.

Patrons line up outside the door of Cole Coffee for two reasons: 1) The coffee 2) The social scene. First, the coffee: Pure Arabica, fair trade and organic, roasted fresh every 24 hours, dripped individually into each cup. In the adjoining coffee store, choose from the largest selection of fresh beans in the East Bay. A range of specialty teas will satisfy tea lovers, as well. 2) Sometimes there’s a lack of elbow space inside the cafe and this actually serves to inspire conversation with more extroverted cafe-goers. There’s also a feeling of fellowship among those who have been lucky enough to secure a sidewalk table. Enjoy the scene and savor your coffee with locally made baked goods, fresh sandwiches, or poached eggs. Coffee mecca and social hub, Cole Coffee well earns these appellations. No wi-fi.

A neighborhood cheese and coffee shop with a diverse selection of cheeses, hand-roasted coffees, gelato, deli sandwiches, specialty grocery items, bulk foods, and more.

Like an old-fashioned Eastern European bakery, Crixa Cakes has everything from chocolate-cherry mousse cake to Fatima’s Thighs. Also, all of Crixa's delectable delights are baked from scratch on-site. The cafe boasts an expansive coffee bar, which features various espresso-based beverages in addition to the standard-issue cup of joe. Surf the 'net while you sip and chomp; they've got free wi-fi as well.

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