Friday, January 21, 2011

Calistoga Roastery Coffee

If you're ever in Calistoga and you drink coffee, there is a good chance you will end up at Calistoga Roastery. This is the local spot for coffee. There is no Starbucks or Peets in town (neither is there in nearby St. Helena). There are a couple other places that serve coffee: San Marco up the street is a small ice cream shop that also serves coffee, and Yo El Rey is a newer establishment across the street which has a more "indie" feel to it, with a focus on free trade organic coffee. But Calistoga Roastery is the biggest, the best known, and the most popular one. In fact, it was even featured in the TV show "Weeds"

It's a larger coffee shop than most, with plenty of space, seating, and tables inside. Unlike Starbucks, this place actually has some character and some warm, comfortable liveliness to it. It's truly a place that "wakes you up" when you come inside, both because of the lighting and layout but also because of the lively nature of the workers and the locals who will invariably be there reading newspapers, chatting, and sipping a cup. Unlike the chain coffee shops, this doesn't feel like fast food, it's not about a rush and a fix. It's about taking a break, easing into the morning, and feeling a sense of community.

Like other gourmet coffee shops, the prices are high... and I sometimes prefer Starbucks simply because of some of the drinks and flavors I can get there (namely green tea matcha lattes or house coffee with cinnamon dolce or raspberry syrup) which aren't available at Calistoga Roastery. The espresso drinks are good enough, but for the standard house/drip coffee, I actually prefer Starbucks (and I'm not a big fan of Starbucks. If you want to know where the BEST coffee is, it's at Cherry St. Coffee in Seattle. But that's not so local, is it?)

Still, I do like to patronize this establishment for the other things I mentioned -- comraderie or sometimes just a slow, relaxing way to start or end the day.

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