By Angela Frucci
November 10, 2013
Welcome to the wild, wild East Bay, where coffee roasters smell the trends but don't follow them. In Oakland, you'll find a diversity of places, from taprooms such as Modern Coffee, which uses beans from several roasters, to minimalist independents such as Subrosa, which uses beans from a single roaster, San Francisco's Four Barrel. And, yes, you can have your ubiquitous Oakland-based Blue Bottle if you must. Or get your beloved Sightglass coffee precision-made at CRO Café in Temescal Alley. The tab: $159 (before taxes) for a night at Waterfront Hotel; $12 for breakfast and a cappuccino at Brown Sugar Kitchen; $17 for a pound of Highwire Espresso blend from Highwire; and $5.25 for a sundae cup at the Bodega.
The nautically inspired Waterfront Hotel (10 Washington St.;  836-3800, http://www.waterfronthoteloakland.com) in Jack London Square is a two-minute jaunt to the Oakland Ferry terminal. Sleepwalk to morning coffee at Lungomare (1 Broadway,  444-7171, http://www.lungomareoakland.com). The hotel's complimentary shuttle (7-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m., within a four-mile radius) can take you to your next buzz stop. Later, decompress in Waterfront's saltwater swimming pool.
Roast Co. (1552 Beach St.; Unit T;  658-2799, http://www.roastco.com; closed weekends) is an Oakland-based artisanal roaster whose coffee is served at many East Bay locations. Visit the roastery and buy freshly roasted beans (call first). For the full food and coffee experience, try soulful Brown Sugar Kitchen (2534 Mandela Parkway; (510) 839-7685, http://www.brownsugarkitchen.com. Closed Mondays). People praise BSK's signature fried chicken and waffles ($15); I was smitten by perfect poached eggs ($4) and killer cappuccino ($3), a Roast Co. blend concocted for BSK. Oakland's Highwire Coffee (5655 College Ave.;  653-0450, http://www.highwirecoffee.com) takes roasting to obsessive levels, looking for the sweet spot in any bean it roasts. Highwire's impeccably knowledgeable baristas offer caffeine counseling and make a tight-right macchiato ($3).
Eclectic at heart? If flavors such as caramel cashew appeal, reward the senses with an Ici ice cream sundae cup at Bodega, attached to Duende, a Spanish restaurant in Uptown Oakland (468 19th St.;  893-0174, http://www.duendeoakland.com).
The lesson learned
The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is a beautiful, albeit a windy and arduous journey that provides great close-ups of the old and new bridges. But come prepared: Carb up with the coffee-rubbed pulled pork sandwich ($10.50) at Barkada Bakery & Café (4316 Telegraph Ave.;  239-7314, http://www.barkadabakerycafe.com) and grab a Scarlet City Warp Drive espresso ($2.50) to go (1304 Wood St.;  836-3920, http://www.scarletcityroasting.com). You'll need the extra jolt to become one with the bridge.
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