Last spring, my friend Pamela Palma and I organized a big group bicycle ride that visited several of our favorite coffee shops and cafes in San Francisco. For our second annual event, we created an East Bay edition comprised of six stops spread throughout Oakland and Berkeley.
It was a beautiful, brilliantly sunny Saturday morning when we congregated at the West Oakland BART station at 10AM.
Our numbers doubled this year, and over 60 cycling coffee fiends were ready to sample the East Bay’s fine caffeinated offerings and check out its diverse neighborhoods on our 18-mile tour.
Our first stop, Blue Bottle Coffee, is located right near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland.
This location is home to their roastery as well as their Oakland shop and cafe. It’s always busy, especially on a weekend, but the employees didn’t mind our bicycle flash mob descending upon them and efficiently divided us up into two lines: one queue for their famous New Orleans-style iced coffee, the other for their drip coffee.
We then decamped for Farley’s East on Grand Avenue, but took a longer, more leisurely scenic route that circumnavigated Lake Merritt.
After we improvised some bike parking out front, the Farley’s folks expertly served up our thirsty bunch.
Then we headed off to the popular Temescal neighborhood that’s filled with many great restaurants -– Bakesale Betty’s, Pizzaiolo, Dona Tomas and Burma Superstar to name a few –- and is also home to Oakland’s Koreatown.
After breezing past Subrosa on 40th Street, another quaint cafe located next to Manifesto Bicycles, we stopped at Arbor Cafe. It’s a relatively new establishment that serves the locally-roasted Bicycle Coffee, has indoor parking for cyclists and is neighbors to another wonderful cafe, Remedy Coffee.
Cruising past Bica Coffeehouse, which is located near the Rockridge BART, we rolled on over to our fourth stop, Cole Coffee. It’s been open on the corner of College and Alcatraz Avenues for many years, including its previous incarnation as Royal Coffee. Many rides begin and end at this beloved cafe which has ample sidewalk seating and has two storefronts –- one for food and drinks, while the other also sells beans for you to brew at home.
Winding through the lush, tree-lined streets of Berkeley, we then made our way to Local 123 at San Pablo near University Avenue. This coffeehouse has a spacious patio out back that’s a relaxing oasis on warm days.
By the late afternoon, our group had dwindled down to a small, stalwart crew who were ready to eat and unwind after a full day of java. With sandwiches and beer in our bellies, our afternoon came to an end as we looped back towards the West Oakland BART station to send home our San Francisco contingent. We hope to lead another adventure next year — perhaps in Marin or the South Bay!
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