7 Places to Get Your Morning Coffee in San Jose

Not all coffee has to be Starbucks!
BY: AMANDA BRUNO

Okay, don’t get me wrong. This is not an anti-Starbucks effort—I’ve been a regular consumer of Starbucks’ coffee for as long as I’ve been a coffee-drinker. And of course Starbucks is known for their great employee perks (hello college tuition!) and community-building charity work, so I have no qualms with the company. My point here is that Mexico is one of the largest coffee-producing companies in the world, and while you’re here you should take full advantage of that by trying some of the unique and delicious blends for yourself. Below are my top seven picks for a local cup of joe in San Jose.

Coffee LAB Come for the coffee, stay for the laid back vibe and friendly baristas. Coffee LAB is hands down my favorite coffee shop in San Jose. It is my go-to for a consistently great cup of coffee. With blends from Veracruz, Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, Coffee LAB boasts domestically sourced beans at an unbeatable price (55 pesos per cup). They have a variety of coffee and espressos drinks, and carry almond milk, coconut milk, and soymilk in addition to dairy. They also have a yummy breakfast and lunch menu (I recommend the avocado toast). And, as a fun perk, they have movie nights on Wednesdays at 8pm that are totally free!

Café CalafiaArt, coffee, and baked goods to blow your mind. This eclectic coffee shop is located on Av. Obregon, near the galleries and restaurants of historic downtown. The atmosphere here is great, and definitely unique among the other shops listed here. Café Calafia is full of art and charm, and boasts a fabulous breakfast and lunch menu in addition to their coffee menu. This is a great place to have some breakfast before getting your day started, or to sit and get some work done.

Ufficio CaffeEnjoy a latte, or a plate of homemade pasta. Or both! Located in El Merkado, the Ufficio Caffe is a café/Italian restaurant and pizzeria that does not disappoint in either category. With beans from Guerrero and Veracruz, as well as a few other states, Ufficio has a blend and a roast for everyone. The regular cup of drip coffee is good every time, as are the espresso drinks, but I recommend the chai latte. The food menu is also fabulous. Ufficio makes their pasta fresh on site, as well as their pizza. The prices are more in line with what you would pay at an American café, but it’s worth it for the fresh food and coffee every once in a while.

Cream Café The coffee is good, the red velvet cake is better. If you’ve ever been to the Shops at Palmilla, you’ve probably seen the Cream Café. Like Ufficio, it’s half coffee shop and half pizzeria, but the two are separated inside and share a patio outside. Cream Café has a wide selection of coffee drinks, smoothies, teas, and food. They offer a full menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a full bar. The patio is beautiful, and the red velvet cake is like nothing you’ve ever had before. This is a great spot to get some work done and enjoy a quick bite.

Café Dona NenaA hideaway among the craziness of Blvd. Antonio Mijares. Nestled among the shops along Blvd. Antonio Mijares is this small but tasty coffee shop. With a variety of coffee and espresso drinks, it’s hard to choose. The chai latte is definitely a winner in my book, as is the Americano. They offer a variety of baked goods too, and so far they’re the only location in San Jose where I’ve found mouthwatering tres leches cake (serious request: if you know where to find tres leches cake in Los Cabos, help a girl out and shoot me an email!). Stay and enjoy some cake, or grab a cup to go and do some exploring in the historic district.

El Wine ShopCoffee and wine under one roof? Sold! El Wine Shop has two locations, one downtown and one near la mega (La Comer and Starbucks in SJ). Both spots offer tons of wine and the usual menu of coffee drinks. I won’t recommend the chai here because it’s a bit spicy for me, but if you’re into spicy chai this might be your new spot! The drip coffee is good, but the espresso drinks are what really sold me on this spot. With both of your vices under one roof, what’s not to love?

3R Boutique Heladeria and Coffee ShopCoffee and ice cream. Need I say more? Like El Wine Shop, 3R Boutique is another spot that puts two of life’s greatest things under one roof: coffee and ice cream. The ice cream is homemade and delicious, and the espresso is superb. 3R Boutique also has fresh brownies, so what you really need to do here is order a brownie with ice cream and a shot of espresso. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. ,