Blue Bottle Coffee Company: Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee Company started as a small operation that sold individually steeped cups of coffee and tiny batches of home-roasted beans at East Bay farmers’ markets. We’d stand waiting for our cups for half an hour or more. And it was worth it. Fortunately for coffee drinkers everywhere, Blue Bottle continues to expand rapidly. They opened a café in Oakland, then more cafes throughout the Bay Area and beyond. I’m told that they even have a café in New York.
The Pepper Peddler: Davis-based The Pepper Peddler uses bicycle-peddle power to roast its coffee beans. For reals. And the result is unique and delicious. The beans come out still oily. The oil slows the water’s passage through the grounds. The resulting coffee is thickly flavorful.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea: I consider Alameda-based Peet’s to be one of California’s proudest exports. It was founded by Alfred Peet, the guy who taught Starbucks’s founders how to roast coffee. Unlike Starbucks, however, Peet’s refused to expand out of the inner Bay Area (a fact that made us locals smugly happy). But then it changed its mind. Suddenly, Peet’s coffee is ubiquitous, making life better for millions of people everywhere. I do not drink enough tea to have opinions, but my tea-guzzling wife tells me that Peet's is quite good.