Finding a cup of Joe in Los Altos

Cup of JoeEvery morning, as Carol & I start our day, we usually swing by one of the coffee houses here in Los Altos for a great cup of Joe. Carol prefers a “half-caf cappuccino”, while I order a four shot latte. The great thing about Los Altos is that each business district has one or more great coffee locales to meet up with friends, or grab some “nectar of the gods” to go.

From major chains, like Starbuck’s or Peets’, to sit down cafes, there is something for everyone. In this post, I thought it would be helpful to point out some of the selections you may want to explore. Just like every neighborhood has its unique characteristics, each location has its own set of characters.


Peet’s Coffee & Tea

Peet's on State StreetOn the day Alfred Peet opened his first coffee store on the corner of Walnut and Vine Streets in Berkeley, CA, he quietly began a revolution in the way Americans experienced the taste and quality of their coffee. By 1969, Peet’s Coffee & Tea became a gathering place for coffee devotees. Alfred Peet further catalyzed the specialty coffee movement when he mentored and inspired a generation of coffee entrepreneurs, including the founders of Starbucks, whom he supplied with Peet’s roasted beans during their first years of operation.

Over the past four decades, Peet’s growth has been fueled by ever-increasing numbers of coffee lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the nation. With each generation of Peet’s leadership, we have remained true to the quality tenets of our founder, inspired by the same unrelenting pursuit of quality.

Los Altos is fortunate to have two Peet’s locations in town. In addition to the devotees who walk to town, the downtown site located on State Street, is a haven for a lot of the bicycle riders who ride Foothill Expressway. The second site can be found on El Camino, near the interception of San Antonio, next to Chef Chu’s. These two venues do a lot of business. They serve coffee is both has full body and complex flavors. The El Camino location has more seating, while the downtown location is great for strolling, while enjoying your cup of Joe.



Starbucks on Main StreetWith three locations in town, Starbucks can be found in North, Mid, and South Los Altos. From its humble beginnings in 1971, to the international powerhouse it has become, Starbucks has strived to give its patrons a consistent product at each store. The original Starbucks was opened in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, in 1971 by three partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker. The three friends knew, and were inspired by, Alfred Peet (as mentioned above) to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment.

From Starbucks’ founding in Seattle as a local coffee bean roaster and retailer, the company has expanded rapidly. In the 1990s, Starbucks was opening a new store every workday, a pace that continued into the 2000s. The first store outside the United States or Canada opened in the mid-’90s, and overseas stores now constitute almost one third of Starbucks’ stores.

As part of its efforts to gain a more local image and change its current culture, in the second half of 2009, Starbucks will be experimenting at three locations in Seattle by removing its logo and name from all products in the stores. Instead, the locations will be called by their intersections, such as 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, and will use local products for decoration, sell wine and beer and encourage live musical performances. If the local test works, it may be rolled out nationwide. We may eventually see changes to our three locations here in Los Altos.


Main Street Cafe

Main Street Cafe - DowntownThis downtown business is one of “the” meeting place for many of the residents in Los Altos. It serves good coffee, has wonderful treats, and you can also order delicious items for breakfast and lunch. The most compelling draw of Main Street Cafe, are the many tables available for small and large groups use. Here residents come to meet, share stories, and plan activities. The atmosphere is very comfortable, and in the good weather, it’s nice to sit outside and watch the world of Los Altos go by on the main drag.

This is a great place to unwind and pass the time. They have local art on display and good selection of books. There are current magazines to browse through while you’re eating, and they also have books available to browse through. Maybe it’s because of the bookstore element, everybody generally speaks quietly. Occasionally, the café brings in speakers and authors, who enjoy mingling with patrons and signing their books.

After a good cup of coffee, and maybe something to nibble on, we recommend taking some time to explore some of the lesser known corners of Los Altos. If you happen to be in North Los Altos, you may want to take a stroll along the Hetch-Hetchy pathway off of Los Altos Avenue. In Mid Los Altos, there is a new ropes course for kids at Heritage Oaks Park. Finally, in South Los Altos, you may want to take a meandering hike from the Highlands neighborhood into Rancho San Antonio Park … you might just bump into us on the trail on Saturday mornings.



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