We’re spilling the beans because something special is brewing in Oakland. Throughout the Oakland’s vibrant neighborhoods, inventive roasters and cafes are serving up a rich variety of tastes and experiences with coffee enthusiasts drinking it all in. Whether it’s sourcing the finest beans from sustainable farms around the world or training top-notch baristas to artfully pour the perfect cup, the specialty coffee-preneurs and professionals revolutionizing Oakland’s coffee scene take pride in their trade. Beyond stellar service and amazing coffee, they’re also dedicated to creating community with warm, welcoming spaces that reflect Oakland’s diverse, adventurous flavor. 

Red Bay Coffee
2327 Broadway

“Businesses should have a distinct point of view,” says Keba Konte, founder and CEO of Red Bay Coffee. “It’s a mistake to want to be everything to everyone and exist by blending in. You end up blending in so much that you just kinda blend out.” With two retail locations, more than 200 wholesale outlets, and at least four more retail locations in the pipeline, Red Bay Coffee stands out.

With a motto of “Beautiful Coffee to the People,” Red Bay Coffee offers cupping (tasting) and educational events in the roastery, to bring coffee knowledge to all. Konte reminds customers that with its origins in Africa, coffee is a special link for African-Americans to embrace and reclaim. As a champion for people who are usually left out of specialty coffee, Konte has built a staff of diverse professionals. Employees get an hourly wage, as well as crowdsharing—10 percent of profits are shared with the staff.

“We’ve made a distinct statement about what our values are,” says Konte. “Anyone who’s in our Fruitvale shop is going out of their way to come here. We’ve created a different kind of allegiance that transcends geographic boundaries.” Konte hopes to inspire other businesses that these practices are a competitive advantage, and not merely a nice thing to do.

Blue Bottle Coffee
480 9th St., 4270 Broadway, 300 Webster St

Set in the storied Henry House, a beautifully preserved architectural gem, the Old Oakland location café and company headquarters features spacious indoor and outdoor seating. The Temescal neighborhood is home to a third Oakland location in the historic W.C. Morse building. Both Old Oakland and Webster Street house training labs where managers and baristas receive complete seed-to-cup instruction including tastings and latte art techniques.  

“What I find to be most unique about Blue Bottle is that true to our core value of deliciousness, we are open to trying everything,” says Lead Roaster Juliet Han, a 14-year coffee pro based at Blue Bottle’s Jack London Square Webster Street facility.  “I truly believe Blue Bottle has one of the most diverse menus and the company is very collaborative.”  The Webster location also houses a pastry kitchen, which, Han praises for its focus on quality, seasonal ingredients, and local producers.

Peerless Coffee & Tea
260 Oak St

The company sources its coffee from 30 different countries and believes strongly in the organic movement and growing coffee organically. It’s also proud of its Oakland roots. “We have a lot of history in Oakland, and believe strongly in this community,” says Vukasin. “We’re happy that more people are discovering it, as well as the strength of coffee options for the public.”

The company’s commitment to quality, sustainability, and the community has kept them among hometown favorites through its 94 years in business. “Even though people could get our coffee in cafés and restaurants, my grandfather always made sure there was a counter at the company headquarters where someone could buy a pound of coffee” says George Vukasin, Jr., president and CEO. Back before it was popular to make the roaster and cupping rooms visible to visitors, Peerless made sure that customers could have a clear view into its operations.

Bicycle Coffee
364 2nd St., 1745 San Pablo Ave.

Locally roasted, organic coffee is delivered by self-fabricated bike trailers because it’s healthy and fun, and also promotes bikes as a delivery method. Four types of coffee are available. 

High Wire Coffee
5655 College Ave.

The folks at High Wire love big bold cups of coffee that still taste like the place they come from. Attention paid by farmers lend aromatics, brightness, and fruit sweetness, while the roasters emphasize body, density, and caramel-like sweetness.

Timeless Coffee
4252 Piedmont Ave.

This coffee roastery, bakery, and chocolatier is, wait for it, all vegan. The in-house roasted, single-origin espresso and pour-overs are enough to lure coffee lovers from all over, and why not get a sweet treat while you’re there?

Slojoy Coffee
1528 Webster St.

Walk on up to this service window that offers locally roasted, single-origin coffee that’ll send you off with more than a cup of quality pourover joe. The handwritten notes of encouragement on each cup brings to mind lunch-box messages of love from mom.

Café Santana Roasting Company
4100 MacArthur Blvd.

This community gathering place offers coffee that’s craft roasted in small batches using a San Franciscan Roaster (SF-6), considered one of the best small-batch roasters in the world. The result: A serious focus on the freshest coffee.