Silicon Valley's coffee scene is exactly what you're picturing. Coffee shops are buzzing with a lot more than just coffee. This is a place where things are happening. Although, coffee does seem to be the fuel that startups run on. Techies in sweats and venture capitalists in slacks, or vice versa, sit at coffee tables in lively conversations about business ideas and website updates. A glimpse at any of the open laptops on nearby tabletops tells the story. E-trade account. Excel spreadsheet with endless rows. Black screen with seemingly meaningless letters, numbers, and fancy characters. Half written email response. An Adobe illustration program open on a double screen. Digital nomads blend in easily to this community.
For reference, Silicon Valley is considered the southern San Francisco bay area. The word "valley" refers to the Santa Clara Valley. In an area where coffee means serious business, Silicon Valley grinds out quite an offering of locally owned, vegan-friendly coffee shops. Other things we kept in mind for the list are: sustainable policies, organic ingredients, wifi connection, and workability. Bustling areas where university students and young professionals thrive often mean coffeehouses that are crowded and wifi that's sporadic. Finding suitable options to work remotely can be hit or miss without a little insight. That's why we've taken workability into consideration just as much as sustainability when forming this list.
This less known Silicon Valley city is midway between San Francisco and San Jose making it a perfect hub for nomads wanting to explore both larger cities and all the tech hubs in between. Cafes are less crowded yet satisfy Silicon Valley tastes with coffee and eats.
This family owned spot offers ample seating and outlets in a modern setting where large windows swing open and vintage coffee memorabilia pop up overnight. Some days the husband, wife, and son work the register and espresso machine together. Coffee is fair trade and made with care in a laid back friendly atmosphere. The iced almond mocha with almond milk served in a beer mug with large ice cubes is a creamy delight. Chai fans will love their 16 oz chai latte with almond milk. Served in a tall mug, the latte stays warm longer, and isn't that what we all want? They serve Mighty Leaf tea which, although not a favorite, offers several organic teas. Now for the "& More". You can find multiple vegetarian and vegan options on their menu like a breakfast croissant with eggs and veggies or the chipotle wrap with grilled mushrooms and zucchini. They're also very accommodating and willing to substitute hummus or avocado for cheese. Feel free to set up for all day working with varied seating and free wifi. You'll likely see other remote workers taking conference calls or meeting clients here. Say hola to Veronica for us. She is likely the friendliest cook and person you'll ever meet. Oh, and tell the owner he looks like Chris O'Dowd from Bridesmaids to see him blush.
This local chain began in one of San Francisco's infamous corner store markets. Phil, the company's namesake, is an actual person and visits the coffee shops often. They can be found all over the bay area bumping the best music in modern yet varied settings. They're even in Facebook headquarters. Needless to say, Philz has a loyal following who flock to the cafe during their morning commutes or power lunches. Yet, we've always found seats near an outlet with consistent wifi at the Sunnyvale location. Cups are compostable and filled with individually brewed drip coffee or tea with fun names like Canopy of Heaven. Described as herbs, citrus, and strawberry this lighter blend is served as is, sweet, or creamed. Your choice. You won't find lattes, cappuccinos, or even espressos here. Just personally made brews. Not in the mood for coffee? Philz's yerba mate is hard to beat in the bay area. Baristas are friendly and encourage tasting before paying to ensure satisfaction. Small bites like avocado toast with zaatar and burritos either vegan or non vegan make up the small food menu. A full pastry case including vegan treats and a cold case with vegan yogurt round out their selection. The atmosphere is on the louder side with baristas singing top 40 hits in the background. Just enough to still whistle while you work.
These guys ride that fine line between cafe and coffeehouse offering three meals a day. The menu ranges from lox benedict in the morning to prawn linguine in the afternoon. Get your order in before 10:30, the breakfast cut off, so you can try their hashbrowns. These golden rectangles are crunchy crispy on the outside and melty creamy on the inside. Feel free to call in your order if you're running late but still want to catch breakfast. Yes, it's that good and they're very prompt with the cut off. Portions are large and the kitchen is very accommodating to vegans. One salad can easily be eaten for breakfast and lunch if you plan to work there a few hours. Freshly baked cakes, pies, and tarts float out of the kitchen throughout the day and are delicately plated in the display case. They offer a full-service coffee bar with lattes and even afogato. We loved the wide assortment of Numi organic tea and use of locally roasted Chromatic coffee. Seating and outlet availability is ample at all four locations, Sunnyvale being the largest with ceiling to floor windows and a communal table. Chatting with the staff became like chatting with friends. The cafe often gets crowded at lunchtime yet remains slow but steady throughout the day.
Palo Alto, CA
When you think of Silicon Valley you're probably thinking of Palo Alto. It is headquarters for Hewlett Packard, Skype, Tesla Motors, and VMware just to name a few. Stanford University also calls this city home making it quite the collision of eager college students, ambitious young professionals, and daring investors.
The Bay area native company has seen rapid growth in the past four years with locations as far reaching as Japan. Their location in Palo Alto, housed in a historic theatre with HanaHaus a co-working space, has only graced Silicon Valley with their presence for two years. It's the only Blue Bottle location with wifi - a fitting offering for the Palo Alto crowd. The joint venture was undertaken to provide a community space for creatives and entrepreneurs in the area. Besides indoor open seating, private workspaces, and conference rooms, there's even a theatre inside. The outdoor courtyard is an inviting ground for collaboration with communal tables and covered two person tables. Blue Bottle is always busy and can be overwhelming if you have no idea what you're walking in to. Enter through the courtyard into Blue Bottle's lobby area. Connected to the lobby is Hanahaus. If you plan to spend a few hours, go there for a dedicated co-working space. Starting at $3/ hr it's worth it for conference calls, meetings, or added privacy. Which ever you choose you won't be too far from Blue Bottle's freshly roasted beans. They also offer a small food menu of pastries, Belgian waffles, toasts, salads, and sandwiches. If you're lucky you'll be there on one of the nights speakers and tech industry leaders use the space for events.
There are three of these family-owned locations in Palo Alto. The downtown location is a go-to due to location. Who doesn't love the convenience of downtown shopping and eating after a long, hard day's work at a coffeehouse? Listed on Google maps as a Venezuelan restaurant, this spot takes on a new persona at night as the dinner crowd gets off work. The coffee is sourced mainly from Venezuela where the family works directly with local farmers. They offer specialty coffee blends and several tea options. Go for the exotically warm Tiger Spice Chai or Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate with pasilla chili. Either one is sure to give you an energy boost. Macbooks shine on just about every table and the coffeehouse hum is evident here. After all, this city is home to Stanford University and several tech companies. Nonetheless, we've been lucky to get a table every time. However, we suspect showing up after 10 a.m. decreases your chances greatly. Vegetarians will love Coupa. If you haven't tried an arepa this is the place to try it. Vegans can make do with a hummus wrap, specialty fries, or soup. The atmosphere is laid back where everyone seems focused on something they're working on.
* Prolific Oven and Philz Coffee both have locations in Palo Alto too. Keep in mind this Philz is busier with the university crowd.
Mountain View, CA
Google's brightly colored bikes and commuter mega-buses are frequent sightings here. Mountain View borders Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. You'll often see the same people floating through coffeehouses in these three areas since Mountain View is oddly lacking in the coffeehouse department.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Red Rock is the red walls. The second thing is a large calendar filled with events like live music, open mic, or kid's story time. The coffee bar is expansive, stacked with bags of coffee and two ordering stations. One is reserved for special Saturday coffee tastings and the other is for, you know, regular ole latte's like their Honey Lavender latte. It's made with their house-made syrup and locally roasted Four Barrel Coffee. Red Rock offers several loose leaf organic tea options from Tao of Tea but the tiny mugs and tiny tea pots are more hassle than anything. The pastry case is filled with baked goods from la Panotiq, a French bakery down the street and other light eats like yogurt, cheese, and nuts are stocked at the counter. Vegan options are usually a vegan cookie or oatmeal bar. Prices are steep even for Silicon Valley but a spacious upstairs seating area with wide windows and ample outlets makes up for it. Seats fill up quickly as this is the best coffeehouse for working remotely in Mountain View. Get there before 10 a.m. or risk not even finding seats upstairs. After work explore Mountain View's charming downtown area which abounds in restaurants and locally owned shops.
Santa Clara, CA
With the ninth largest population in the bay area, Santa Clara is one of the larger Silicon Valley cities. The city is home to tech giant Intel and Santa Clara University, the first institution for higher education in California. Being a larger city it's central areas are spread farther apart and better suited for travel with a vehicle. Coffeehouses seem to be housed in shopping plaza's on busy roads.
This is the only location for local roaster, Chromatic Coffee, whose beans pop up in coffeehouses around the area. Located in an unassuming shopping plaza, Chromatic Cafe is quite popular in the evenings when Santa Clara University students need a place to hang. Get there early and set up to find a spot worthy of remotely working. Chromatic is the epitome of third wave in the area. Shots of espresso are served with palate cleansing seltzer water. Seasonal specials like Winter Tonic, a brew of ginger and tea, and an iced latte with fruity pebbles set this coffeehouse apart. The brand is devoted to promoting art, community, and supporting other local businesses. They serve Satori Tea, a company from Saratoga, CA and bread from Manresa, a local South Bay bakery. The art-filled interior is a dedicated space for their monthly art program where local artists display work. Each bag of roasted beans features a unique coffee graphic designed to represent the personality and producers of the beans. Eats get an elevated air with offerings like charcuterie plates replete with olives. Brunch on Saturdays kicks it up an even higher level. Vegetarian eats are plentiful but vegans have little to no options.
Inspired by a love of coffee and travels, Voyager lends flavors from places like Bali and Valencia for their signature drinks. The Santiago is espresso, chocolate, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and milk. It's a creamy kick of flavor that wakes you up with more than just caffeine. Traditional coffee drinks, tea, and a colorful array of toasts are served too. Thick slices of grain toast are slathered with seasoned avocado or almond butter and honey or goat cheese and jam just to give you an idea. Baristas are personal and take the time to visit your table to make sure there isn't anything else you need. The atmosphere is bright and airy with ceiling to floor wooden paneling on white walls. Seating is fairly easy to find, wifi is reliable, and the noise level is usually at a minimum. You'll love the odes to travel sprinkled through out the cafe. Maps and aerial photos hang on walls. To-go cups boast catchy travel quotes like "Not all who wander are lost". In fact, Voyager does not seem to be lost at all. They started out as a mobile espresso bar but soon needed a larger space. This location opened in Fall 2016 and has fit right into the local coffee scene by providing third wave execution with inventive drinks.
Tucked away in a Korean shopping plaza this coffee house can easily be missed. There's no website either making it even more of a secret spot. Inside has been renovated to a modern, airy, atmosphere with large tables, wooden wall panels, and dreamy drop lights. Chalk art, a ceiling to floor bookcase, and curated knick knacks for purchase add extra charm to the space. As the name suggests mugs are big! I consider that a plus especially for enjoying tea when working. They offer the usual coffee options plus seasonal specialties like pumpkin spice or caramel machiatto. The pastry case is usually stocked and the counter top often has one or two vegan options. Although this is not the spot to expect a midday lunch while working, Big Mug does whip up artfully plated ice cream and waffles that almost look too creative to eat. The atmosphere is laid back with lots of light streaming in and a coffee house hum that's just quiet enough to zone into work. This seems to be a little known yet coveted spot. Therefore, seats are often available but occupied for an hour or more. Visit their Instagram for drool worthy pictures and information on specials.
San Jose, CA
The largest of the Silicon Valley cities also happens to be the third largest city in California. Coffeehouses are plentiful yet many offer limited seating and parking. Typical to larger cities, finding work friendly coffee houses is a bit trickier. Many tech companies house large offices here including IBM, Adobe, Ebay, and Cisco. San Jose University is also located downtown.
A remote work day at B2 can easily be turned into an all day affair. Located in San Pedro Square, a collection of independently owned shops and restaurants near downtown San Jose, this renovated garage offers a wide open work space connected to the inner food court. Start your day with individually made cups of locally roasted coffee, either Verve or Sightglass. Vegans will love their house made almond milk which is light and nutty. Easily enjoyed by itself over ice. They also have housemade syrups like vanilla which is year round or seasonal options like lavender. Grab a small pastry from the case or wait until the food court opens at 11 a.m. Settle into work at a small patio table, bar seating along one side of the space, or plop on a couch. Wifi is free and steady and outlets are along the walls only. Hop into the food court around lunch time and enjoy pizza, falafel, burritos, or even soup and salad. Options abound for vegans and non vegans alike including a fully stocked bar. If you're lucky, you're at B2 on one of their live music nights. Get work done just in time for the band and ensuing crowd to show up. B2 is locally owned by Bellano Coffee, a family of coffee related businesses in San Jose who know coffee and community.
Located on the Alameda, said to be California's first true road, Crema Coffee's orange patio umbrellas seem to beckon you in. Designated public parking on the side of the coffeehouse seals the deal. There are three seating areas to choose from. Go no further than the patio on a cool, sunny day. Set up inside at a wooden counter that dubs as a perfect standing desk. Or, find a table in the roasting room as long as the smell of coffee beans roasting won't drift you to sleep. There are lots of outlets to be found along walls and under the wooden counter. Wifi is very consistent and the stream of traffic is steady yet seats remain open. The coffeehouse buzz is minimal including chatter and music. Besides coffee Crema serves Stash and Numi tea, smoothies, and several typical cafe sandwich options. Vegans can reconstruct one of the veggie sandwiches or pick from a few pre-packaged vegan treats near checkout. An unusual yet somewhat popular menu item is gelato. A case next to the coffee bar holds about six flavors daily. There's no website to consult but Crema's Facebook is updated often with events and specials. Take a stroll around this historic neighborhood on a break or after working. Vintage theater and motel signs give away the area's age.
Work remotely in a 126-year-old neighborhood? Yes! Japantown in San Jose is one of three remaining authentic Japantowns in the United States. Work remotely in a renovated WWII era gas station? Yes! Roy's Station began in 1935 as a gas station after Roy and his wife were released from WWII internment camps. The family wanted to continue Roy's legacy of contributing to the community so in 2009 the gas station was reopened as a coffeehouse. Wifi is as advertised, "super fast for Silicon Valley students and worker bees". Fill 'er up has a new meaning here. With beans from Verve Coffee, a local California roaster, Roy's fills cups with foamy creations like Mark's Churro Churro or Shameka's Coconut Chai. Keeping it local, they serve Satori Tea from Saratoga, CA. Light fare like pastries, quiche, and sushi boxes are up for grabs. The atmosphere is friendly and laid back. Baristas share laughs and dances with customers often. Indoor and outdoor seating allows for a bit of seat selection. Seating inside is on the smaller side but ample outlets and vibin' music make Roy's a viable working option. A spot that once ran on and sold fossil fuels now powers the future with a solar paneled roof and coffee.
iJava is the first coffeehouse in quiet Delmas Park. Event nights and all day eats add community to an otherwise lacking neighborhood. Visit iJava when downtown coffeehouse options are too busy or you want a more laid back atmosphere. Exposed wood ceilings, wall art, and brightly colored seating add a fun character to the space matching its eclectic menu. Rainbow colored writing display dishes that range from breakfast to lunch and dinner. There's American, Mediterranean, and even African influenced dishes. Vegetarians and vegans would be very happy working here for a few days. The falafel plate is large enough for dinner or for two to share while working. There's also about ten to fifteen hot sauces at the condiment bar for the more adventurous taste buds. Freshly squeezed juices are pressed out of a large orange juicer behind the bar. The carrot orange juice is perfect on a warmer day. Coffee is brewed by siphon, a method said to produce a clean, delicate, tea-like cup of coffee. Their high speed wifi is consistent and the sizable seating area is rarely filled. The owner, Nadir, is often inside chatting with customers like old friends or swinging an imaginary bat in Oculus virtual reality goggles. Yes, you can play too!
*Philz Coffee is also located in downtown San Jose and worth a visit for trusty yerba mate or deliciously crafted drip coffee.
The most south west city in Silicon Valley is most known as the home of Apple Inc. corporate headquarters. The second smallest of the Silicon Valley cities extends into the Santa Cruz Mountains making for picturesque views throughout the town.
Cupertino's #1 coffee shop opened in 2011 bringing Silicon Valley third wave coffee to the area. Ex-banker turned coffee shop owner attended barista school to learn how to run a coffee business and included products she could stand by to create Bitter + Sweet. Keeping it local, cups are brewed with Sightglass Coffee from San Francisco to make classic espressos or in house creations like the sought after red velvet latte. Mocha lattes are rich and creamy with 53% guittard cocoa and soy milk. Pastries are from Satura Cakes in Los Altos, CA and ice cream is from San Francisco favorite, Humphry Slocombe. You'll find a few sandwich and panini options served with a side salad on the food menu. Or, you could just eat dessert while you work! With ice cream flavors like Secret Breakfast and Hibiscus Beet you're sure to get the creative juices flowing. Seating is varied from bar style to tables with high back chairs. Wifi is free, fast, and advertised as a part of the experience. The modern interior design fits into trendy Cupertino's demographic while baristas whipping out quirky latte art keep this place grounded. The owner, Janice, can often be found inside wearing a larger than life smile and funky t shirt.
Looking for a more unpretentious option? Coffee Society, located in a small strip mall, boasts lots of parking outside and lots of seating inside or on the patio. The interior is outdated and reminiscent of a hospital's cafeteria. Well worn couches line walls. Round tables with faux marble and chairs with torn cushions are often covered with textbooks and laptops. DeAnza College is located across the street and draws crowds of studying college kids. Given that, it's understandable that the decor matches the study crowd. Ceiling to floor windows allow light to stream in amping up the productivity. The usual coffee drinks are brewed and Torani syrup flavors abound for making unique creations. Mighty Leaf tea is sold for those not interested in coffee. Pastries, bagels, and cakes fill the pastry case along the ordering station. Liege waffles are a popular choice stuffed with cream cheese or chocolate. Vegans won't find many menu options but vegetarians can easily make lunch work here. Coffee Society has three locations in the area and pride themselves on sourcing quality arabica beans. Bags of coffee are sold in bulk in one corner of the coffee shop. If you're a third waver needing to work remotely in Cupertino your mind won't be blown but you can get a few hours work in.
*Philz Coffee even made it's way here! Check it out in downtown Cupertino. With limited other coffeehouse options this Philz is known to have a line out the door.