Benicia’s Emerging Coffeehouse Culture
Few things are quite as personal and ritualized as our daily morning cuppa. We each have our unique beverage profile—do we prefer coffee, tea or espresso? Decaf or high-octane? Black or creamy? Wet or dry? Sweetened or not? Our rituals are imbued with actions that engage the senses—grinding coffee beans, turning on the espresso machine and steaming milk, boiling a kettle of water on the stovetop. Sometimes we partake at home, alone or with loved ones, and sometimes we gather at our favorite coffee haunt, where there’s a strange solidarity in satisfying our particular craving alongside fellow humans, the sounds and smells all mingling together.
Coffee culture in Benicia has shifted and grown much over the years. Longtime locals will remember relics of the past, Café Voltaire and the controversial Company of Wolves, or the moment when the dreaded Starbucks came to town. Benicia now houses five Starbucks, but many are loyal to their favorite locally owned coffee houses. Rrags, on East Second Street, Java Point, on First Street and Benicia Coffee & Tea Co, on Columbus Parkway, are the longest-operating cafés in town.
With a new donut shop, a juicery, and coffee shop and new bakery slated for spring openings, Benicia is upping the coffee culture ante, with new possibilities for satisfying appetite, invigorating health (try the “Popeye Power” green juice from Juice House Co), and socializing with other Benicians. Even if you have your tried and true, it’s fun to spice it up with something new. Here’s the lowdown on where to get your morning fix.
1383 East Second Street, 707.748.4247, rragscoffee.com
Rrags is a popular, family-owned shop (Rrags is an acronym of the first letter of every family member’s name) that specializes in roasting their beans in-house. In addition to coffee by the cup,
Rrags also offers fresh-roasted whole beans, and a full breakfast and lunch menu.
Benicia Coffee and Tea Company
2036 Columbus Pkwy, 707.746.1242, Facebook
Benicia Coffee Co has been serving high-quality coffee on Columbus Parkway since 1994. Their menu also features smoothies, sandwiches, salads and ice cream.
2074 Columbus Parkway, 707.297.6101 Facebook
Daily Donuts, also in Columbus Parkway, is new and already very popular. Serving fresh donuts and Fern’s Finest Coffee, the shop has tables inside so customers can sit and stay a while.
Java Point Café
366 First Street, 707.745.1449, Facebook
Java Point is a longtime hub for First Street business owners, shoppers and downtown residents, with indoor and outdoor seating for sunbathing and people watching. Java Point has a full breakfast and lunch menu and also offers free refills.
Juice House Co
611 First Street, 707.4000.5638, juicehouseco.com
Juice House Co has a new storefront downtown, in addition to a booth at the Benicia Farmer’s Market, which starts up again this month. They offer the only cold brew coffee in town, but it’s worth stopping in to peruse their huge array of fresh, organic, cold-pressed juices, elixirs, kombuchas and nut milks. They also keep fresh, young coconuts in stock. This is the perfect post-gym or yoga class stop.
One House Bakery
Coming in May to the former Antiques Mall on First Street. Follow on Instagram @onehousebakery for construction updates. There’s lots of buzz about this new bakery, with a focus on healthy food, sustainability and community. One House will grind it’s own pastry flour and bring in coffee from a specialty roaster in San Francisco. Their menu will include gluten free options and a full lunch menu.
700 First Street, statescoffee.com
States is also due for a May arrival, at the former site of longtime and much beloved gift shop, Studio 41. States is a hip, locally owned Martinez coffee shop, popular with coffee connoisseurs, featuring “neighborly roasted” coffee. The Benicia store will be their second location, and coffee enthusiasts wait in eager anticipation. States also sells American-made goods, which will be a welcomed thematic carry-over from the building’s Studio 41 days.