Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Travel Essentials: Finding Indie Coffee Shops

When I travel, I'm a big fan of guidebooks, both print and digital. (But I love pouring over detailed topographic recreational maps even more.) Sure, I'll check Yelp! and TripAdvisor for recent reviews and recommendations, too. But at the start of any given day on the road in North America, all I really need is for someone to point me toward a good indie coffee shop.

I mean, what can't you find out about a new town while you're just standing in line waiting for your daily dose of caffeine? Check the bulletin boards for happening festivals and events. Pick up the local alt-weekly tabloid paper and peruse its picks for eats, bars and clubs. Chat with the person next to you in line to find out where they love to go hiking, or which museums they take out-of-towners to. Tip big, and the barista/baristo might just give you the best insider travel info of all.

So why isn't there a great online directory for indie coffee shops? Yelp! often falls short (for example, every cafe in my town gets four stars, and lemme tell you, only one or two are actually good, especially for travelers). A look at indiecoffeeshops.com showed zero coffee shops nearby.

OK, then. I'm going to get the ball rolling by randomly nominating 10 of my fave indie coffee shops in small towns and cities around California and the US Southwest:
Know of equally great coffee shops, maybe right in your own backyard? Or java joints that you found serendipitously while traveling? Rave about 'em by leaving a comment below.

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  1. Koffi in Palm Springs (the location when you are just entering town...I haven't seen the other location) has long been a favorite of mine. The back lawn is a great place to let the pooch sniff around while sipping a delicious coffee beverage. A very social place as well--good conversations to be hand with any number of folks! Nice to see it on your list!

  2. Whenever I'm driving coastal California, I never bother with corporate coffee on Hwy. 101 when I can just go to the hidden gem Cafe Luna in ritzy Summerland, just south of Santa Barbara. You don't need to be a millionaire to enjoy great coffee there, but you can sit next to 'em. Delish breakfast croissants, too. No wi-fi, though.