Verve Coffee Roasters (Santa Cruz, CA)
I originally found out about Verve Coffee through two different places: The French Press in Santa Barbara and Single Origin in the Farmer's Market (LA). At both places I was usually impressed in the taste and design, always keeping it at the back of my mind to visit if I happened to be in Santa Cruz (although I tend to confuse many of the Sans and Santas of California and would probably forget). Finally, on a road trip up to San Francisco this past weekend I couldn't pass up the chance to make a roundabout route through Santa Cruz in order to visit Verve Coffee. We happened upon the closest one off the highway, which also turned out to be the Roastery & Coffeebar. There are three different locations in Santa Cruz: the Original Cafe off of 41st Ave and Portola Dr, the Roastery & Coffeebar off of Bronson St and Seabright Ave, and their Downtown Cafe on Pacific Ave. The large corrugated metal, industrial-looking building encloses a large roastery and a quaint coffeebar with a killer Strada machine and minimal outdoor seating. And to add to the classic California vibe (mixed with industrial roastery), a group of good-looking skaters lounged around outside the coffee shop. Regardless, after a long car trip from Los Angeles, I couldn't wait for some quality espresso. Their seasonal blend, Streetlevel Espresso, had a great flavor but nothing out of the ordinary--dark chocolatey with some acidity. Overall, I was very pleased to go out of my way to finally try the original Verve espresso. And to top it all off, the winding mountain drive from Santa Cruz to San Francisco is one of the best.
Recommend: Obviously go here if you are in Santa Cruz, but make your way here even if you aren't! It was a great place to stop off the 1 on my way to San Fran.
Note: If there happens to be a bad weather day (unlikely)-- don't stop here. There is primarily outdoor seating.
Vibe: Laid-back, coffee experts
Espresso Rating: 8.5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
Hours: Roastery: Everyday, 7am - 5pm; 41st Ave, Mon - Fri: 6am - 7:30pm, Sat: 7am - 8:30pm, Sun: 7am - 7:30pm; Downtown, Everyday 6:30am - 9:30pm