8 Best Coffee Houses In Santa Cruz

Awhile back, we did a blog listing the top coffee houses in Capitola. We would be remiss if we didn’t follow that up with the best places to grab a cup of java in Santa Cruz.

Cat & Cloud

3600 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz
6am-7pm daily

725 Front Street, Santa Cruz
7am-8pm daily

With two locations, one on Portola Avenue and their newest in downtown’s Abbott Square Market, Cat & Cloud is a relative newcomer to the coffee scene. They began with weekly pop-ups at Companion Bakeshop before opening their Portola location in 2016. With a focus on darker roasts, cutting-edge brewing techniques and creating a sense of community, Cat & Cloud offers a place to gather sans the cliquey coffee house vibe. 2015 Sprudgie Notable Roaster Finalist, owners Jared Truby, Chris Baca and Charles Jack want to “give the community the very best of what they have to offer” by “unlocking the magic inside coffee beans” and “delivering it right into the cup”. They also sell single-source origin coffees online via a subscription for those who want to have their Cat & Cloud brew handy at home.

The Abbey

350 Mission Street, Santa Cruz
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Sat & Sun 8am-8pm

For almost a decade, The Abbey has been a place to connect, study, work and hang out while enjoying their favorite coffee drink. They’ve also been known to stay open late, allowing local UCSC students to study for finals and whipping up free “flapjacks for finals” to feed hungry minds. The Abbey has both indoor and outdoor spaces, free WiFi and a very Santa Cruzian atmosphere. In addition to being a coffee house, The Abbey is also an art and music lounge, hosting a variety of musical talents.

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting

1330 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz
Mon-Fri 6am-10pm
Sat & Sun 6:30am-11pm

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting has been a key player in the coffee scene since 1978, way before Starbucks made specialty coffee cool and mainstream. Their small batch roasting and BrewBar® enabled their customer base to experience the “freshest, most optimally prepared cup of coffee available” and also embraces supporting fair trade sources. Set right along Pacific Avenue, it is an ideal place to people watch, meet a friend for an afternoon pick-me-up or grab your favorite coffee drink to go.

LuLu Carpenters

1545 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz
6am-12am daily

911 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz
6am-5pm daily

LuLu’s has two locations, their anchor store downtown on Pacific Avenue and one in Midtown. The downtown location was the first to reopen after the 1989 earthquake and still remains in the 1865 brick building that was once a dress shop. LuLu’s knows coffee and also has an impressive array of tea. Their on-site kitchen makes it a great place to stop in for breakfast, lunch or midday snack. They service brunch from 8am to 2pm on weekends. They offer a spacious indoor area decorated with local art and accented by high ceilings, brickwork and an impressive wooden coffee bar. LuLu’s is a favorite and many locals can be found working or studying while enjoying their favorite coffee or tea. In addition to the rustic indoor space, there is front sidewalk seating and intimate tables in a lush, back garden. Free WiFi is also available.

Verve Coffee Roasters

1540 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz
6:30am-9pm daily

Verve was mentioned in our previous blog but their downtown location deserves a shout-out here as well. Right across the street from LuLu Carpenters, Verve has a very upbeat, hip atmosphere where they serve their locally roasted beans crafted by their talented baristas into a latte, cappuccino or Americana that you soon won’t forget. Tea lovers are also well taken care of at Verve as are those looking for a Manresa Bakery goodie to accompany their drink of choice. Free WiFi is available for those who wish to linger.

Firefly Coffee House

131 Front Street, Santa Cruz

A great place to begin your day with a Greenie Bagel topped with avocado, Spanish Situation bagel or “Not a Bagel” Bash Bowl (eggs, beans, potaotes and cheese) and a perfect coffee drink, A few of their specialty drinks include the Frosted Firefly (latte with peppermint, Irish cream and chocolate) and the London Fog (vanilla, Earl Grey tea, steamed milk topped with foam). Freshly brewed coffee as well as espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and breves are crafted from beans sources from local roaster Java Bob’s. All of their bagels and pastries are made fresh to order in-house daily. Numerous picnic tables allow customers to enjoy their drinks outside while those choosing to stay indoors enjoy local art, friendly staff and a cozy atmosphere.


1723 Mission Street, Santa Cruz
6am-6pm daily

Set in an unassuming strip mall on Mission Street, Coffeetopia has an impressive drink menu, pastries from Kelly’s, including gluten free options, and an assortment of bagels, breakfast burritos and sandwiches. For those looking to grab a cup to go, there are two ready-brewed coffee carafes and a pour-over bar as well as cold brew coffee on tap. The baristas at Coffeetopia know how to whip up exceptional lattes and cappuccinos as well as custom pour-overs. Tea-lovers can also find something to enjoy with both loose and bagged blends. You’ll find many hikers and cyclists here grabbing a drink and a bite to eat before or after hitting Wilder Ranch State Park. The inviting indoor space includes a rotating local art display, free WiFi and plenty of electrical outlets for plugging in devices. Coffeetopia also has a location in Capitola and Portola.

Fins Coffee

1104 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz
Mon-Fri 5:30am-11am
Sat & Sun 6am-11pm

Fins is an eclectic coffeehouse located on Busy Ocean Street. Their inviting ambiance, strong coffee and decadent dessert menu all add to their unique appeal. Breakfast and lunch items are also available, including hearty breakfast burritos. Fins is known for their spicy Mexican Mocha, Spicy Cherry Mocha, Lighthouse and Chai lattes. Many locals swear by Fins, dropping by frequently to meet friends, play one of the boards games or just indulge in their Fins favorite created by the outgoing and talented baristas.

The next time you are searching for the perfect cup of coffee, forego the franchise coffee shops and stop by one of these fantastic Santa Cruz coffee houses.

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