A Map of the Coffee Landscape, Palo Alto

So, are you a Philz coffee drinker or a Peet’s coffee drinker? It seems to be the question that SF people ask… almost to gauge your tastes. Palo Alto is no exception. I wrote in an earlier post that I wanted to map the coffee landscape in Palo Alto… and here’s the map.

For a university and tech town, the number of coffee options here are rather limited… or rather, you have to dig hard to find them. On the surface you have Coupa and Philz… both places have done their online marketing well and at first glance, it looks like they are the only two coffee options in Palo Alto.

However, below the surface are other places that have decent coffee.


I will give you the best coffee you’ve ever had. And if, it’s not the next one is free. This statement comes from the very first pour master I met at Philz. It was a $7 coffee and I prepared to be wowed.

There was no wow and it wasn’t even remotely close to the best coffee I’ve ever had… in fact, it was so bitter I couldn’t drink it. When I came back to tell him this, he didn’t remember me at all. Several rather similar and expensive attempts later, I gave up. Not only do I not like their coffee… but Philz is forever branded in my mind as being staffed by a bunch of liars who seem to only have short-term memory.

Their beans are nice, however. We use these at home.


Creamy, the proper temperature, never bitter and gets better over time. I’m a Peet’s person and they continue to impress me every day. After only three visits to the Palo Alto Peet’s, the baristas remembered my name, my drink preferences, and we now have friendly conversations. Because of this, I visit twice a day and drag along anyone else who wants a coffee.

La Boulangerie

I discovered this place by accident. I needed a coffee, it looked French and I popped in to see if they had espresso drinks. They do, and their soy latte tastes like flowers. I don’t know what they do, they insist that they don’t add anything in… but it’s a nice start to the day.


I’ve already written about Coupa. Their lattes are ok but the problem is the cafe always seems to be packed and the experience is never consistent. And, if I am heading into work and want to pick up a latte, I don’t want to have to wait for 20-minutes for it. Still, this is a great non-chain sit-down place and enjoy a beverage while you people watch.

Lyfe Restaurant

If you like your lattes earthy, organic and grainy… this is one of two places to go. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to grab a latte from Lyfe, but it is a very reasonable add on to one of their really fantastic breakfasts.


This is the second place to go if you like earthy, organic and grainy lattes… this place is more on the earthy side. It rather reminds me of the almond lattes that you get from Nelson the Seagull in Vancouver. As an added bonus, you can get ice cream… or you could combine espresso with gelato to make an affogato.

0 comments on “A Map of the Coffee Landscape, Palo AltoAdd yours →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *