Coffee Chess: Starbucks Stays

Around Montclair, people were buzzing about the Starbucks closings list distributed by the Seattle behemoth.  Everyone I spoke with seemed curious about the Montclair store, which will remain opened after all – right across the street from Peet’s.

The stakes are not terribly high, so why are the emotions?  Local pride, as reported by the East Bay Business Times.  They identified seven East Bay locations slated to close, and gloated about one store that’s closing near the original Peet’s location in Berkeley.

Maybe we want Starbucks to slink away, but that’s not happening soon.  Much like how fast food outlets congregate together, our mix of coffee chains and indie shops means there’s plenty of demand.  Starbucks drafts along with these other shops, and also provides decent jobs and benefits for its employees.

When aliens land in our Village, they’ll likely be scratching their heads about all the coffee places here.  They will learn these shops aren’t only about dispensing coffee – they are about checking in with neighbors too.  Depending on the time of day, they are filled with commuters, moms and kids, local workers and retirees.

Montclair has six options, so where should you go?  That depends on what criteria matters to you:  location, seating, coffee, food or attitude.  Here are some of the choice Yelp reviews below.

  • Peet’s:  Hometown chain and coffee central – Yelp – 2066 Antioch Ct  (Map)

“The montclair village would totally suck if it weren’t for peets.  my husband and i never talk about it but i believe it’s proximity to peets (like 50 yards) is one of the main reasons we bought our house.  (oh… and er… the schools).”

“I love the way there are always giant friendly doggies outside, just waiting for you to pet.”  “The regulars seem to know each other.  I suppose it’s like a 21st century Cheers — where everybody knows your name.”

  • Starbucks:  Megachain, decent cold drinks –  Yelp – 2059 Mountain Blvd  (Map)

“The Montclair one is smaller and the employees are pretty annoying, but I tend to enjoy sitting on their bench”  “For real, the best thing about this starbucks is the window seating and the bench out front.  From there, you can look across the street to see people drinking yummy Peets coffee!”

  • Nelly’s Java:  Mainly coffee plus Wifi –  Yelp – 1952 Mountain Blvd (Map)

“There was a woman (presumably one of the staff) who wiped down the cream/sugar station before leaving for the day and offering her farewells to her coworkers.  When I asked, my suspicions were confirmed…THAT was Nelly.  Having the owner take a few seconds to do a simple task – and not pass that task on to a subordinate – really shows a lot of class!!”

  • Thornhill Coffee House:  Coffee, food and companions –  Yelp – 5772 Thornhill Dr  (Map)

“I love small, locally owned coffee houses, and so was obviously a sucker for Thornhill Coffee House from the very start.  I’m a bit of an idiot some days, and on this particular day, I walked to Thornhill Coffee House without my wallet.  the shop owner handed me the coffee and sandwich, and told me to go ahead and take it, and that I could pay her next time.  This never happens in Oakland!”

  • Noah’s Bagels:  Food first and impersonal – Yelp – 2060 Mountain Blvd  (Map)

“This might be the worst Noah’s anywhere. My bagel is never fully toasted, they often don’t follow the directions on the order form, and the employees don’t really know their products that well.  They’re usually good about fixing mistakes.”

  • Montclair Malt Shop:  Former Royal Ground barista – Yelp -2066 Mountain Blvd  (Map)

“Most cities would love to have a malt shop like this.”  “This is a mom and pop shop … not a chain.   It is very expensive to run a business in Oakland. No wonder prices are not bargain basement.  And Montclair Village is special. It is a jewel in the bay area. There are few places like it.”

2009 Updates: A new coffee shop has opened in the Royal Ground space, after big renovations were made.  We added them to the Montclair Coffee Chess list below.

  • Metro Cafe & Bar:  Individually dripped, lunch spot – Yelp – 2058 Mountain Blvd  (Map)

“I had a cup of drip coffee, I think it was Mocha Java, and it was definitely the best cup of coffee I ever had.  I am not a coffee snob.” “Metro serves beer on tap and excellent ice tea.  The lunch menu is a little pricey for a cafe, but the food is better than you’d expect….I like this new addition to Montclair.  It’s almost, sorta, nearly hip.”

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