Here’s one time that drinking and driving is OK: When you’re drinking a double shot of espresso poured into steaming milk and sealed behind a plastic lid, jostling along in your cupholder as you circumnavigate Santa Fe’s labyrinth-like roads. Yet, getting your caffeine fix doesn’t have to be isolated to just the groggy post-dawn, pre-noon hours. Settling into a comfy chair and hiding from the rest of the world while wrapping both hands around a warm mug is also as socially acceptable as meeting your best friend for bean juice in a ritual that has devolved into a once-a-month frantic stream of chatter at a halfway point between appointments. The more coffee you drink, the more efficient this feat becomes. Here are some of our faves for these occasions and more.
1600 Lena St., 428-0996
The hand-painted wall menu of six coffee choices from six nations doesn't stop at just those facts: It also describes the flavor of the bean with welcoming words such as chocolate, malbec, clove and amaretto. Order by the country of origin. That's how the barista will call you when it's ready. And if you crave more information, you can also learn the altitude at which the beans were picked. The wait for a pour-over cup is worthwhile in this habitat where one can spot the elusive "younger crowd."
376 Garcia St., 983-3085
It's been the meeting place for all these years. Just a stone's throw from Canyon Road and Paseo de Peralta, nearish to the downtown media hub that is Marcy Street, the busy coffee shop that carries the Allegro brand of beans is the perfect spot to gather over steaming lattes and killer banana bread. Bonus: They still sell actual paper newspapers and magazines here. Endangered, yes. But not extinct yet.
The Betterday Coffee Shop
905 W Alameda St.
Located in the Solana Shopping Center and ever spreading along its sidewalks, this is where you'll find coffee by Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters, along with clean, simple breakfast and lunch fare. With no website or phone number, they expect you to be in the know. Trust them. Bike racks and the nearby co-op are also attractive features, along with a garage door that stays open during the seasons when that makes sense.
1248 Siler Road, 780-5477
The name behind the enterprise that's been open in a new, airy location in the up-and-coming Siler Road area since April isn't really Joe. But Dave Merriman's Java Joe's on Rodeo Road is a longtime Southside gathering spot. His plan to expand up north didn't stick, but the spacious new midtown spot has a bigger kitchen and carries organic coffee that Merriman orders from a few sources and roasts in house under his own Groovy Beans label.
1098 S St. Francis Drive, 982-9692
We just couldn't get away with leaving out the local micro-batch roasters, who have been giving up the steaming goods since 1984. Santa Feans far and wide refuse to drink anything at home that doesn't come from their white bags. Hit the drive-thru at the shop tucked on the edge of Pen Road, which is also a great place to buy coffee-related gifts such as insulated mugs and fancy kettles.
Holy Spirit Espresso
225 W San Francisco St., 920-3364
Sit outside at one of two tables with views of the downtown streetscape for a blessed cup of brown goodness. Look for bandana-clad barista Bill Deutsch at this hole in the wall, where you can study a collection of foreign currency while you wait. Be advised that there's no indoor seating, which means sipping in the elements, whether it's the early morning calm or the afternoon bustle.
1599 S St. Francis Drive
A long time ago, in a land far away, this little shack was Pony Espresso. Now planted like a weed in the crack of a parking lot east of St. Francis Drive to make the most of northbound morning commuters, it's still presenting a pretty little flower. Drink your Aroma coffee on the go like most customers, or take a seat at an outdoor table and watch the world go by.