Coffee waves have become as nubile as the sediment at the bottom of my demitasse cup, and that darkness has spawned new iterations of coffees that are more about expressing a culture and fostering a community than about pouring properly. Granted, the Peninsula coffee scene is still influenced by tech concepts like the Coffee Lab, which provides a space for coffee lovers to learn about roasting times and flavor profiles, but this new group of entrepreneurs from cafes want their customers to be transported to an unfamiliar place. or somewhere as familiar as a warm hug. Visit these new cafes and you might discover both.
Cloud9 Cafe, Palo Alto: Palo Alto’s small airport finally has a place to grab an espresso or flat white thanks to Cloud9 Coffee. Last year, Hanna Joo noticed that the former grocery store had vacated the space, located at the end of a small strip mall next to the airport and Baylands Golf Links.
Soon after, she and her partner Elizabeth Kim had signed a lease and planned a renovation. Joo, an interior designer, called on her architect husband to help her make the interior changes. Kim, a ceramist and flower enthusiast, decided to create custom tableware while waiting for the work to be completed. Other custom touches to the zen-like space include cedar live-edge tables made in Oakland.
The Baylands Nature Reserve is a short walk from the cafe and there is a large outdoor patio filled with flowers thanks to Kim. You can take your coffee with you and make your way through the swamps, but if you do that, you won’t be able to enjoy your coffee or Americano in a handmade ceramic mug. The cold butterscotch latte is a must-try with the house-made butterscotch, and the baked goods come from Mountain View Midwife and Baker. The menu includes seasonal croffles (croissant waffles), salads and tartines (open-faced sandwiches).
With a beer and wine license, Joo and Kim are happy to host private parties and craft events. “We bonded over our love of creative endeavors and are excited for people to use the space to host parties, birthdays and floral showers,” Joo said.
While Cloud9 has only been open for a few weeks, Joo is happy with the flow of people. “We had no idea what a close-knit and welcoming aviation community we have here. In Korea, my father flies, so it’s nice to remember him here.
Cloud9 Cafe, 1901 Embarcadero Road #103, Palo Alto; 650-847-1278, Instagram: @cloud9_coffee. Open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. cloud9coffee.net.
Café Sama, San Mateo: On the corner of South B Street and 9th Avenue sits a new Arabic cafe that invites people to gather, socialize, play backgammon and enjoy a coffee drink. Partner Manar Elder is the creative mind behind all the innovative drinks. His partner, Ghassan Al Saeedi, who designed many Yemeni cafes in the Bay Area, created the space to reflect the Baghdad cafes of the past that he grew up frequenting. Elder, originally from Palestine, wanted a Middle Eastern coffee menu with global influences.
Elder took a break from nursing to pursue her passion for coffee and spent time working at the Nordstrom espresso bar. Not only did she learn barista skills, but she also had the chance to experiment. She created some new drinks at the San Mateo outpost, though admittedly not all of them were approved.
“I created a creme brulee coffee drink, but they turned it down because it required a torch,” she said.
She made a point of adding it to Sama’s menu, and yes, she uses a torch to toast the marshmallow cream filling. Other exclusive coffee drinks include Heat Wave and Sweet Breeze. “I wanted Heat Wave to have the spice of Chile without the heat; adding honey achieves this. For Sweet Breeze, I use mint jelly to get that minty flavor,” she said, “because you shouldn’t have to wait until the holidays to enjoy a peppermint coffee drink. »
With its padded lounge-like seating, pendant lights and textured ceiling, Sama Coffee Shop is a place to linger late into the night, savoring savory and sweet Middle Eastern bites and sipping coffee and tea. In the Middle East, coffee isn’t just for morning, and Elder admits she enjoys evening coffee.
“It’s a nice feeling watching the evening crowd, listening to people talking with music playing in the background,” she said.
Sama Coffee Shop, 225 9th Ave. (Google address: 800 SB St., #500), San Mateo; Instagram: @sama.coffeeshop. Open Sunday-Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. samacoffeeshop.com.
Groovy Goose, San Carlos: Nathan and Siera Conte opened Groovy Goose in August after a complete renovation of the former clothing store. This airy and welcoming place was designed for the community of San Carlos, the place where Nathan grew up and is now raising his young family.
The company name comes from their 2-year-old son’s nickname, Goose. “We wanted a fun, whimsical name. We also liked the double G. The logo, created by a local artist, makes us smile, and we hope it makes others smile too,” he said.
The curved, built-in wooden bench seat was designed for conversation, not remote working. “I’m a big believer in interacting with people and building community,” he said.
This is the couple’s first business, but both have experience in the coffee business. They are so passionate about coffee that they spent some time in Maui so Nathan could learn the art of roasting. The small coffee menu includes seasonal drinks like pumpkin spice and pecan oat lattes, and they plan to gradually roll out more drinks as well as fruit smoothies and paninis. At some point, they hope to stay open late into the evening and serve beer, wine and small bites.
While Siera takes care of barista training, Nathan develops the bean side. He has a small roastery in the back of the space and currently offers a house blend that customers can enjoy in their drink or take home and brew. “I want people to enjoy our coffee in any format,” he said. Christian, Nathan’s brother, owns Drake’s restaurant down the street and, as you might guess, the coffee it serves is Groovy Goose House Blend.
Groovy Goose, 1221 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos; Instagram: @groovygoosecoffee. Open Monday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. groovygoose.coffee.
Bagel and coffee box, San Mateo: Partners Stavros Kanavos, Elvis Zeinati and George Petroutsas opened Bagel Box & Coffee in August. The location, a kiosk in the middle of a small mall parking lot across from Laurelwood Mall in San Mateo, took months to update. Kanavos and Zeinati came to the Bay Area from New York where they both worked in coffee. They ended up at Nick the Greek in Petroutsas, in the shopping center where Kanavos works and where Zeinati manages.
They were eager to introduce the cold coffee drinks popular in Greece, Freddo cappuccino and Freddo espresso, to the peninsula. The drinks, made with espresso, ice and sugar, are blended to produce a frothy top layer. Adding frothed milk creates the cappuccino version. Their concept of Greek specialty coffee drinks and bagels materialized after Sonoma Bagels closed in 2022. “We were looking for locations in San Mateo, and when the mall bagel shop closed, we knew that we had to open nearby to be able to fill it. hole,” Zeinati said. “We call it the Greek triangle with Nick the Greek and the Greek-owned Brothers Cafe across the street.”
They also offer the OG of cold Greek coffee, the Frappe, a vigorous blend of instant Nescafé coffee, water, sugar and condensed milk. The team wants people to revisit their summer trips to Greece when they order a freddo or a smoothie. Zeinati found the perfect blend of beans from Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil that complement these drinks that have become ubiquitous throughout Greece. Bagels are from House of Bagels and offerings include a Mediterranean bagel breakfast sandwich with kalamata olives, eggs, tomatoes and feta. A Greek version of a bagel called koulouri is in the works. Street vendors in Athens and Thessaloniki sell these sesame-coated bread slices that are eaten for breakfast.
Bagel Box & Café, 3174 Campus Drive, San Mateo; 650-770-6607, Instagram: @bagelboxandcoffee. Open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. bagelboxandcoffee.com.