We all need a caffeine boost every once in a while, but coffee shops, like restaurants, sprout up around every corner, and mixed reviews always bless and curse non-corporate chains.
When you’re in Monterey, don’t waste your time looking for a Starbucks or a Peet’s. Below, we’ve put together the best (and locally-owned) coffee options the downtown area offers.
Alta Bakery + Cafe
The newest coffee shop on the block, Alta Bakery + Cafe is located in the historic Cooper Molera Adobe building. All of the baked goods are made from scratch, and the coffee is totally on point. Ever had a lavender latte with oat milk before? Try it out, I dare you. As an added bonus, all of the plants in the garden are completely edible. We also check out those gardens on our Old Monterey food tour, so come join!
Captain + Stoker
Originally opened in February 2018 and then reopened in July of the same year with the current owners, Captain + Stoker has quickly made a positive name for themselves. One of the few shops that actually roasts their own beans, they also offer up a unique range of milk choices for their espresso drinks. Go ahead, ask them all of their options. They also sell camping kits that come with coffee mugs and their coffee in little teabags to take out with you into the wild.
Plumes is a great homework spot and one of the prime locations for people watching, as the shop rests on the corners of Franklin and Alvarado Streets. Plus, they have the best white mochas in town. If you’re not much of a mocha fan, they brew the drip coffee as it’s ordered. On top of that, they’ve got an incredible selection of food choices off of their menu.
The only thing you’ll need to make sure you have when you come here is time! It’s hard to predict when the line for Paris Bakery will be out the door, but it’s pretty consistent on the busy factor. The wait is worth it, though! Everything is made fresh daily and baked there, and the coffee is out-of-this world. If you don’t have time to wait in line, that’s okay! Paris Bakery products are also featured on our Old Monterey food tour. Either way, if you’re only in town for a few days, make sure to make Paris a priority.
If you’re looking for an artsy stop, this is the one for you! East Village hosts an open mic night every Wednesday, and slam poets and storytellers alike come together to share their work. Even if you’re not around for a poetry event, the walls are still decorated with local event fliers, and the darkened atmosphere makes for a relaxing place to get some work done, especially for those in school — or those preparing for the Wednesdays. Better yet, this is also one of the only coffee shops on the list that serves alcohol, as well. Can you find the other one?
Coffee and a movie? Yes, please! Cafe Lumiere is situated inside of the Osio cinema, which plays more independent films than outright blockbusters. You don’t have to buy a movie ticket to enjoy a coffee here, either. There’s also outside seating to enjoy the patio during the sunny days — and, with Monterey keeping a relatively steady 65 degrees throughout the year, you might find those aren’t so hard to come by.
Best matcha in town! Cha-Ya is a stop for those who love tea more than they love coffee, and all of the recipes here are brought over from Japan from the owner. The shop itself also showcases local artists and has a very calm, serene feel to it. There’s a wide selection of different teas to choose from, and any option is sure to hit the spot.
Have you ever tried any of these out? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!