This post has been a work in progress for a long time now. About 6 months after we moved here (or 3 years ago), we put together a long list of coffee shops in the area that we wanted to try. Coming from a small town in Central PA, I worked at the one local coffee shop in the area that wasn’t a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts. I grew to love the small local coffee shop vibe and felt the coffee and all around atmosphere was just better than corporate chains. So when I moved to Monterey with Andrew it was a huge deal to have SO many local shops in the area. Each weekend, Andrew would convince me to go for a bike ride with a promise to stop for coffee…which began a weekly tradition!
I’m embarrassed to say that we just recently completed that long list of coffee shops. We found so many in the beginning of our coffee tour that became favorites that we kept going back instead of trying new ones. But just recently we finished it up and feel that we now have a good handle on the coffee scene here in Monterey.
BEST COFFEE: Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company
This is hands down, my favorite shop all around. Their coffee is delicious and they have a great atmosphere in every one of their locations. They are the only certified organic roasting company on the peninsula and have multiple blends with my favorites being the Vanilla Nut or the Jamaican Me Crazy. In addition to their roasts, I am also a huge fan of their hazelnut and caramel lattes. Our favorite location is in Seaside as they have board games indoors or cornhole outside.We end up here all the time as it is close to us and always a good experience.
Some other notable mentions: ACME (located in seaside) for their Mexican mocha and Carmel Coffee & Cocoa Bar (located in the Carmel Plaza) for their iced caramel lattes.
BEST ATMOSPHERE: East Village Coffee Lounge
This was one of the first shops I visited on the peninsula and is one I go to regularly as it is close to my work. It is located in downtown Monterey and is conveniently located next to a bike shop, making it a great one stop shop for Andrew and I. It’s got plenty of seating in three different little rooms, each with a rustic feel. Plus they serve CVCRC coffee (mentioned above) so I camp out here quite often with my laptop, a good book, or to meet a friend! At night they serve wine and beer and even have karaoke on occasion.
Some of the best locations for coffee here in Monterey is somewhere on the water. I mean, what is better than sipping your morning coffee (or any time of day really) next to the ocean, watching the waves and sea life. Two that we frequent when out for a ride downtown are Water & Leaves which is located on Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Cafe La Strada located in the Monterey Plaza hotel on Cannery Row. While both serve mediocre coffee, you can’t beat the view!
BEST PASTRIES: Pavel’s Backerei and Paris Bakery
If you are looking for delicious pastries, look no further than Pavel’s Backerei, located in Pacific Grove. This place is sort of on the down-low…we didn’t even hear about it until we’d been in Monterey for a year. The shop itself is super tiny, with only one little table indoors and two outdoors. However, they sell the most delicious and ginormous pastries for such a good price. When we started going you could get a cinnamon roll the size of your head (no joke) for $3.50. AND they are absolutely divine! Andrew always orders the cinnamon roll while I opt for the Bear Claw, which is also large in size. A good thing to keep in mind if you are planning to visit Pavel’s is that, while they serve coffee, it is nothing special and you pump it yourself from the tiniest little carafe. Needless to say, they are not known for their coffee by any means. My advice would be to pick up a coffee close by at Carmel Valley Roasting Co or Bookworks and then head there for pastries.
However, if you are looking for a shop with both coffee and pastries I would suggest a visit to Paris Bakery. They make really good and authentic Parisian croissants, pastries, and bread. This shop happens to be in walking distance to my office, so I often find myself heading there for an afternoon treat.
Some other notable mentions: Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co for their coffee cake and East Village for their chocolate cake and yummy muffins.