Sonoma County Coffee Shops
WAKE UP & Smell The Coffee
In Search of Small Independently-Owned Shops Full of Flavor & Personality
The smell of coffee has been part of my life since I was a small child. Back then it was percolated on the stove. The distinctive sound of water being drawn up the center tube, splashed into the glass bulb at the top of the percolator (fun to watch), then filtered through grounds in the basket – over and over and over - until someone decided it was done. We don’t torture coffee that way anymore. Preparing coffee has become quite sophisticated.
And coffee shops – did we have coffee shops decades ago? I don’t know. I was a kid, but now, they’re everywhere! I was talking with Stephen Powers at Cheeko’s Corner, a cart by Pacific Market in Sebastopol’s Redwood Marketplace. Back when he started his business 19 years ago, he could count his competitors on one hand. I just learned that Cheeko’s is where my Alan used to drop off banana bread he and his son Alex would make in the wee hours of the morning…a way to get the boy making money at a young age. Dad was not only transportation, he was baker and motivation as well.
In my tiny town of Forestville…3 blocks long on one side…two on the other…we have two coffee shops within easy walking distance of each other. Tiny Town changed hands once again!!! abd is now owned by a deightful man, Kevin Borges, keeping it a great place to spend time while enjoying coffee, tea, chai and snacks. Sunshine Roasters next to Forestville Pharmacy, is a tiny hole in the wall with two tables outside – but – my favorite coffee hands-down. Mike’s Light Roast has my vote for the sweetest, smoothest coffee around. I told him it powers the Gazette and is the only coffee I buy for home. Yum! They roast it right in town so our downtown bursts with the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans some times. I’m among those who love that smell.
AND, since I totally forgot to list Nimble's coffee cart in the parking lot of Speer's Market, Bo's Brew, she gets special attention for being so understanding! What a sweetheart...in fact, she is so sweet, and has such loyal fans, that when her canopy fwas fading into threads, customers pooled their funds and surprised her one morning with a brand new, incredibly top-end canopy to shelter customers from sun and rain. Now that's customer love!
And while I’m on roasting….there are numerous places who roast their own beans, right on premises.Gold Coast in Duncans Mills, Aroma Roasters in Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, Barking Dog in Boyes Hot Springs, and Petaluma Coffee & Tea in Petaluma. I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I see while stocking newsstands. YEP - I just got a call from Bunfgalow Coffee in Larkfield - they roast as well right in the shop and told me that Flying Goat roasts up in Healdsburg as well. The paper has been in Sonoma County a mere 8 hours and corrections are coming in - THANK YOU! keep 'em coming! And recently I discovered a new roaster in Sebastopol – Melody Roasters – that supplies many shops with beans.
This gets me into the subject of where people get their coffee. The majority of coffee shops I visited specialize in shade-grown organic. That’s my preference so it’s what I seek. Why shade-grown and why organic? Yes, the taste is sweet and soft compared with coffee grown in the hot sun. Very different. But having the plants under trees also supports song-bird habitat, so from the very first time I learned this aspect of shade-grown coffee, I decided it’s the only coffee I will drink.
Coffee plantations have destroyed forests to get higher yield in the sun. Those forests are the place song birds go when it’s cold up north. Without their wintering places, populations have diminished, and in some cases, become extinct. So when you hear those birds singing to wake you up – pick up your mug of hot coffee and sing their praises by supporting the place they go to spend the winter months. It’s only fair.
I got into a conversation with Wally who owns Bad Ass Coffee in Larkfield, and although he does sell some organic, he specializes in Kona coffee. It, too, is sweet and soft…perhaps because Hawaii is just so warm and sensual. What it comes down to is people choose their coffees the way they choose beer and wine. After exploring the options, they settle into a favorite drink, coffee and place to spend time with a cup, their laptop, and friends.
So I’ll move on to location, location, location. Coffee shops are more than a place to purchase a beverage. They are places to spend time, meet friends and in cases like entrepreneurs with no “brick & mortar” office, places to meet clients and do business. I’m one of those, so I favor shops with a table big enough to seat several people, and far enough away from the espresso machine that you can continue talking when someone is making a latté. Those machines are loud!
Several shops not only have meeting tables, they also have lounges with sofas, set up like a living room away from home. Holy Roast on 7th at Mendocino is one of those places. The barista there was so enthusiastic I thought she was the owner – but no – she “just” works there. I ran into Ann Hancock of the Climate Protection Campaign because her office is right down the block. That’s the other thing about location. How close it is to your stomping grounds.
On the purely social level, SoCo Coffee on the corner of 4th and Brookwood in Santa Rosa has all the bases covered. They have a place where little kids can play out of the traffic zone, the Hemingway table where groups like the Redwood Writers meet, and the main room with a wall of book shelves that absorb sound and clusters of tables for people to work on their laptops, etc.
If you want LOTS of personality in your hang-out, I’d recommend Hardcore Coffee on the corner of 116 & Bloomfield Rd. It’s a fair weather hangout because it’s basically a cart under an awning, but they’ve been there for more than a decade and built a mish-mash of shelters, have an assortment of used furniture, a huge play area, and lots of things to sell. It’s a gathering place for many.
Another totally colorful place is my friend joe on Mendocino Ave. across from the Junior College. Alexis Bauer used to own three coffee shops – two in Sebastopol and this one in SR, but has narrowed it down to what she can keep going and have a life as well. Her shop is resplendent with color and personality and fits well with the college environment. She’s very politically active so you can learn about who’s doing what, where and when at her shop and get yourself connected to people with social passion.
I can’t cover every coffee shop in Sonoma County, so I’m going to finish up with two that just grab my heart. One is The Bean Affair in Healdsburg because groups meet there, play cards, share time in a room that’s totally separate from the bakery and beverage area, so sound is not an issue and light pours in through the windows. The other is Café Aquatica in Jenner where you can take your mug and bowl of clam chowder out on the deck and watch birds fly over the Russian River, and sit long enough for the sun to set. This is one of my favorite places on earth – spectacular.
See below for Coffee shops by town and let me know what I’m missing. I’ll add it - and your comments!
Enjoy the journey…share time over a mug and say “Hi” if you see me on the road distributing papers.
Coffee Shops by Town - these independently owned shops serve coffee and some baked goods - and some meals! Yes, Starbucks & Peets are not listed - there are too many of them! BUT – people love them – especially because it doesn't matter WHICH Starbucks or Peets you go into – the product is consistent…AND they are open late!. And I do understand that although they are not “locally-owned” they are a large benefactor to our local economy. I just want you to know about these entrepreneurs listed below!
Please let us know if our list is not complete or has shops that are no longer in business - or new shops have opened!. I’m updating this list as I learn more and have time. Send us your comments. Thanks! - Vesta (707 887-0253 email@example.com
Panaderia el Palomo Mexican Coffee Shop & Bakery
122 First Street
Mexican coffee and pastries share a cultural flavor that this place has captured and maintained. Very popular.
227 N. Cloverdale Blvd.
Open 6 am to 6 pm Mon-Sat Sunday 7 am to 5 pm
Serving Flying Goat Coffee and Flour Girl pastries, also goods fresh baked on premesis. Free Wi-Fi.
Visit us on Facebook.
21001 Geyserville Ave
Owned and operated by barista Valerie Blanchard. She serves Thanksgiving coffee made in Ft. Bragg, plus Breakfast burritos, bagels, pastries, and locally made almond toffee
1270 Healdsburg Ave
Locally owned; locally sourced beans and a decent menu of munch-upons to go. Wonderful front room for gatherings.
Downtown Bakery and Creamery
308 Center Street
Locally revered for their stickybuns…
324 Center St
Considered the Buckingham Palace of Real Coffee and Comfort by many. VERY popular place to socialize or sit with your laptop.
Moustache Baked Goods
381 Healdsburg Ave
“All American classics with Character…on the Square…”
SHED Café, Coffee and Fermentation Bar
25 North St.
SHED has its own espresso, blends and single origin coffees developed with local heroes: Flying Goat Coffee. We also offer a range of house-made pastries, ready-made sandwiches and small batch house-made ice creams — in seasonal flavors of course! healdsburgshed.com and on Facebook
Ana’s Cafe & Espresso
10333 Old Redwood Highway
Friendly folk to match the captivating cuppa.
630 McClelland Dr.
SO not a global chain….SO terrific! Far from the Starbucks crowd, a real comfortable place to sit quietly.
Bo’s Brew Coffee Cart
7891 Mirabel Road
This cart opens cart bright & early at 6am and has a very loyal following. Recenlty purchased from Noble, the cart lives on to energize people on their way to work!
Sunshine Roasters Espresso Bar
6656 Front St, Forestville
Infusing downtown Forestville with the heaven scent of shade grown beans brought to their peak
Tiny Town Café and Coffee Shop
6544 Front St.
Pastries...scones!... and breakfast burritos, which are packed with potatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, black beans, and of course the staple eggs, cheese, and optional meat. The Best! Organic coffee...of course!
19420 A Hwy 116, Monte Rio
Located at Northwood Golf Course next to the post office and barbershop this place used to be Mama Java's. THE place in Monte Rio to relax with coffee, muffins, scones, and frittatas.
10439 Hwy 1, Jenner
Organic, locally roasted beans for a memorable mug – perfect with their memorable chowder in this memorable setting…
14045 Armstrong Woods Rd., Guerneville
Fresh baked goods, rockin’ sandwiches, wi fi and Twice Told Books just next door…very comfortable place to spend time - the whole front is open in sunny days - tables outside for fine weather.
Don’s Dogs Café & Coffee
20396 Bohemian Hwy, Monte Rio
Especially wonderful in warm weather, sit on the deck and make sure you enjoy on of Dons hot dogs - I know you came for coffee, but you have to try a dog! At night - slip into the theater - there is no other the movie theater like this - guaranteed! Open W-Sun 9-4
Flavors Unlimited Ice Cream & Coffee
16450 Main St., Guerneville
Coffee is the favored beverage in winter, and fresh made soft ice cream and yogurt custom-blended is the fave in summer.
Gold Coast Coffee
23577 Steelhead Blvd., Duncans Mills
Beans roasted on site – taste tells!
Higher Ground Organic Espresso
16350 3rd Street, Guerneville
A favorite hang-out over the years – very relaxed west-county crowd.
5400 Cazadero Hwy, Cazadero
An oasis of freshly brewed coffee and award winning, freshly baked pastries among the redwoods
Willowood Market Cafe
9020 Graton Road
Top rated for its food, service, ambiance – oh – and its coffee!
Howard Station Cafe
3811 Bohemian Hwy
Howard's is incredibly popular for breakfast on weekends, so get there either early or late. Fantastic baked goods as well as smoothies - yes - and just plain coffee if you go to the back of the room - take your mug out onto the front porch. Ah! Occidental!
Union Hotel Café
3731 Main St.
The Union Hotel & Restaurant is legendary and owned by the Gonnella family for generations. The cafe in front and has that lovely old hotel atmosphere that makes you feel far from the current time zone. Enjoy!
Wild Flour Bakery
140 Bohemian Hwy - really small town!
OK – it's primarily a bakery that makes wood-fired bread, biscotti, sticky buns and more. But it has great coffee (Taylor Maid) and very good Chai. And right next door is Enduring Comforts – say Hi to Thea!
Captian Davey’s Coffee & Ice Cream
539 Hwy 1, Bodega Bay
Near the Post Office and next to the Dog House
Incredible place to watch the light change on water. Espresso, Lattes, Hot Chocolate, and ice cream, lots of flavors, scoops and milkshakes.
Colleen's Coffee Shop (formerly Brew)
17175 Bodega Hwy, Bodega
Born from the love of good coffee...this little shop is THE place for coffee in town!
555 S Highway 1, Bodega Bay
Great coffee and delectable house baked pastries - opened last summer so look for the flags by Coldwell banker real Estate.
Blue Whale Shopping Center Suite J
1580 Eastshore Rd
Come for the coffee, stay for the conversation! Home made pastries made by Jim Irving's daughter and I have her name written here somewhere! She;s a chip off the old block so enjoy the next generation after Jim. Love you Jim!
6761 Sebastopol Ave
Local hangout and meeting place. Science Buzz cafe meets here - so do many people! They have acoustic music events as well so stay in touch with their web site!
1798 Gravenstein Hwy So.
Enjoy consistently excellent espresso in a hangout with LOTS of personality! This place is as eclectic as it comes! Ya gotta love it! Drive-thru as well as hang out for as ling as you want! merchandise for sale - lots of info on events.
Holy Cow Coffee
130 South Main St.
Baristas that love their job and gluten free baked goods – Holy Cow!! Fairly new in town they're gathering a following! Get the Club card while you're there!
my friend joe
150 Weeks Way
Coffee, organic and fairly traded (*although not certified, are farmers are too micro to afford the cost of certification) RBST Free milk, REAL BUTTER PASTRIES....Plus, really flipin' good.
And vegetarian dishes
Ninja Star Coffee Bar
992 Gravenstein Hwy So.
Lovely small shop - tiny inside with umbrellas over tables in outside area carved from the parking lot next to the dry cleaner. Bruce lee is the manager and he says - we do coffee Ninja style - which quite honestly - I don't know what that means! It's owned by Aaron Parks who owns Café Aquatica in Bodega Bay so it has to be good!
10315 Bodega Ave
Coffee, espresso, pastries served in a comfortable rural setting, inside and outside seating. Next To Bill’s Farm Basket.
Taylor Maid Farms Coffee and Tea
6790 Mckinley St Suite 170
Now open at the new Barlow Center.
Sebastopol Cookie Co.
168 N. Main St. North
OK - it's a cookie place that sells coffee - but oh those cookies! Buy them by the dozen and take them to your office!!
7225 Healdsburg Ave
Chase your cup of coffee with one of their Scandinavian pastries. Incredible bread and baked goods, you'll find their products at lost of other coffee shops as well!
171 Pleasant Hill Rd.
Sweet little cafe where they bake their own pastries, muffins, etc. Take some home with you!
www.westsidecafesebastopol.com and www.facebook.com/pages/West-Side-Cafe/118101304869015
95 5th Street
Coffee, tea and infusions in a lively, open café. Great place to sit with friends or spend time studying by the window. This is a gathering place. Live music on special evening.
300 South A St - Ste 4
Featuring Intelligentsia coffee. A little hard to find down a side alley – but that gets you into their outdoor garden and indoor café where musicians and artists enjoy an eclectic environment. Committed to fine coffee – and good music.
It's a sweet place - a bit challenging to find - find the Cookhouse the cross the street - head a bit north and duck in the alley with the sign. Back there is a private patio and great place for creative people to spend time with each other - exchange ideas and creativity. Good coffee, too!
Bad Ass Coffee
90 Mark West Springs Rd, #100
Kona coffee is their specialty – soft, rich, sensual….Wally is a total delight – always cheerful and welcomes his crowd with style. Great place to spend time with friends.
Bella Rosa Coffee Company
5491 Skylane Boulevard, out by the airport
We offer 7 different blends of coffee and recently opened a cafe off our roasting facility. You can buy their coffees at local grocers, farmers markets, locally-owned cafes...and online at bellarosacoffeecompany.com
Blue Beagle Coffee
540 Larkfield Center
Formerly Bungalow Coffee in the Larkfield Shopping Center. Now under new ownership. Blue Beagle features freshly roasted coffee in small batches for peak flavor. Serves coffee drinks, baked goods from Sweet Cakes, also sandwiches and salads.
Cafe Des Croissants
Guerneville and Marlow Rds.
Cafe Des Croissants
3194 Coffey Lane, #404
Cafe Des Croissants 722 Village Court in Montgomery Village
Fresh coffee drinks and baked goods.
Cafe Des Croissants – Grateful Bagel
2444 Lomitas Avenue
Features fresh coffee drinks and sandwiches made on fresh croissants or bagels.
Flying Goat Coffee
10 Fourth St. in Railroad Square
Coffees roasted in small batches. This is another FG favorite hang-out right on Railroad Square.
5505 Old Redwood Hwy.
Drive through with very early morning hours for your convenience
490 Mendocino Ave.
Enthusiastic baristas serves it up right in this living room away from home. Comfy place to meet friends. Use a Holy Roast travel mug and get a discount!
3080 Marlow Rd, #A5
Coffee devotees love this place from its mugs to its specialty drinks. Also a pool table and couches.
Kaffe Mocha & Grill
397 Aviation Blvd
Serves coffee drinks – mochas, lattes and more - in addition to being a full service restaurant.
my friend joe
1810 Mendocino Ave
Make the college scene - great coffee, fun setting, newsworthy conversation! Alexis is right on top of political and social activism conversation and events so consider her shop a place to stay informed!
Sonoma Coffee Company (SoCo Coffee)
1015 Fourth Street
Dependably good coffee and friendly, knowledgeable baristas. Great pace for meetings and groups or just a library ind of space to spend quiet time - very kid friendly with a play area!
The Pink Box Baking Company
2700 Yulupa Ave.
Serving Intelligentsia coffee. Owned and run by well respected pastry chef Stacy Willis – need we say more?
1445 Town and Country Drive
Generations of locals swear by the coffee and the Scandinavian pastries. Many coffee shops feature their baked goods!
Viola Boutique & Café
709 Village Court
Serving Flying Goat Coffee. High quality locally sourced meals and bakery – and homemade ice cream.
Wonder what happened to Wolf? They no longer maintain coffee shops – but blends, roasts and distributes artisan coffee – visit them online and order beans shipped directly to your home.
Bianchi’s Bake Shop
1301 Maurice Ave.
What could go better with a cup of coffee than original recipe cupcakes, muffins, brownies, tira masu, focaccia, and more.
Charlie Brown’s Café
1801 E Cotati Ave
Full scale espresso bar on campus; meals and pastries
Golden Bean Coffee House
101 Golf Course Dr Suite A3
100% organic Blue Bottle coffees and espresso, pastries, bagelslocal art work….enjoy!
Mocha Mamas Drive Thru
355 Southwest Boulevard
Espresso Bar with the emphasis on convenience..
7285 Snyder Lane
Espresso concoctions with flair
Sonoma Valley Bagel
1451 Southwest Blvd
Great coffee and a variety of types of bagels, schmears and sandwiches to tempt you.
Sonoma Valley Bagel & Cafe
350 Rohnert Park Expy West
For those who like a bagel with their coffee - featuring fresh bagels in every variety imaginable
8225 Old Redwood Hwy
Good People - tiny shop offering locally roasted organic coffee, locally baked goods, and locally-sourced loose leaf teas.
8492 Gravenstein Hwy
Your basic coffee shop with things to eat - JJ's vary by who runs each one.
Northlight Books & Café
550 E. Cotati Ave
For many years a favorite hang-out for students, this is a full coffee shop, as well as well-stocked bookstore. It makes you want to be a student.
21 4th Street
Preparing Flying Goat Coffee and sort of blowing away all other Petaluma coffee purveyors in terms of quality. Inherited an unfortunate room footprint with their location, but they are somehow managing to allow customer flow right through the seating area. Dunno how, but I don't feel rushed nor cramped while sitting down for a cup of coffee or pot of tea. (Thanks Tommy)
224 B Street
Right on the water by the pedestrian bridge that traverses Petaluma River. Coffee drinks, also wine and beer.
189 H Street
Major gathering place for people of several generations. Music, events, all kinds of things happening here – John makes this THE place to be and spend time!
23 Kentucky St.
THE Bovine Bakery from Point Reyes right here in Sonoma County. Incredible pastries served with all our favorite hot beverages.
Java Hut - Coffee Kiosk
100 Fairgrounds Dr.
Coffee, pastries, breakfast burritos, and more.
765 Baywood Dr, #145.
Just like it says – out at the marina. Like boats and water? Favorite for people who work nearby.
Pepper’s Coffee Shop
335 So McDowell Blvd
Petaluma Coffee and Tea
212 2nd Street
Big open space – where they roast coffee on premises. It has that waterfront feel to it because it's in the formerly manufacturing end of town near the Theater District and river.
Petaluma Mail Depot
40 4th St.
This is a coffee cart next to the Mail Depot which is run by some pretty amazing people who love to support young artists. Much admiration for this couple.
210 Western Ave.
This coffee cart parks right outside the market and never moves. Grab a cup before shopping! GREAT grocery store!
110 Petaluma Boulevard North
I don't consider this a coffee shop, but it is a great place for coffee drinks and amazing hot cocoa - and Lynne makes some of the most unique chocolates around - and she carries chocolates by famous chocolatiers. Plenty of opportunities to sit and eat - buy gifts and walk away feeling satisfied.
10101 Main St, #A
Very comfy, down-home kind of place. Plenty of tables for sitting both inside and out. Very relaxed. The woman who owns this shop makes you feel like you are visiting her home.
Barking Dog Roasters
18133 Hwy 12
Creekside Café cannot confirm
239 Boyes Blvd.
Garden Court Café and Bakery
13647 Arnold Dr
Basque Boulangerie Café
460 1st St E.
Amazing bakery that sells coffee because you just have to. Lines out the door this place is that good! Seating inside and out.
Break Away Café
19101 Highway 12
Love the graphics on their web site. Dedicated to coffee - but a full cafe nonetheless. This is a very popular place right next to the Parkpoint gym so go get thin - then eat!
875 W Napa St
More a café than just coffee shop but we though you might like to sit, eat and drink here as well. They sell Local Authors books!
El Dorado Corner Café
Inside the El Dorado Hotel
405 1st St
Right off the Plaza the café sits inside the hotel by the El Dorado Kitchen – also known for it's fine food.
Harvest Moon Café
487 1st St W
Way cool drive-thru with a few seats outside. All your favorite coffee drinks.
1190 East Napa Street
On the way out of Sonoma on the way to Napa as a convenient stopover point. They have a coffee bar - literally - a deli with fresh-made sandwiches, a wine bar and patio out back for garden sitting in fine weather. This is a lovely place to rest.
Sunflower Caffé Espresso
421 First Street West
Started out as just coffee then evolved over the years to a café and even wine bar. They keep changing! Very friendly staff – a favorite for locals and tourists – sit outside in good weather.
The Briar Patch
464 First E Street #H
Highly recommended by Jonathan, a Sonoma reader who says it's his absolute favorite. E Street is kind if a street - kind of an alley off the Plaza, lined with shops and places to eat. Find it!
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