Tired of Starbucks Everyday?

Santa Cruz is full of granola eating, peace loving, happy people. Do you think these people wake up this way every morning without a little help? Ever heard of the saying, "Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all"? Why settle for less? I found two local coffee shops that don't get enough credit for their drinks.

At UC Santa Cruz, everyone knows Pacific Avenue, which is full of great coffee shops like Verve, and Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co. However, today I am going to take you off the beaten path, a few streets away from downtown Santa Cruz, and show you some coffee shops that are completely underrated.

pizza, coffee, spam, beer, tea
Yuechen Yang

Caffé Bene

Caffé Bene is a small, mom and pop coffee shop right on Cedar street. When I visited, two men were sitting outside drinking coffee, wearing fedoras, and reading the newspaper, so I knew this place would be good.

The layout of this coffee shop is very interesting, with an entire living room of couches, chairs, and bookshelves for everyone to sit and enjoy their coffee. The menu is like any other, except for their melt-in-your-mouth, homemade whipped cream. They also have some insane flavors like their mashup of a Mocha Chai.

coffee, cake, chocolate
Yuechen Yang

I went with a regular mocha, which was quite chocolaty and really good if you’re in the mood for something sweet, which I always am. I had some friends come with me and they tried the latte, which was on point. The milk was perfectly streamed with a toasty flavor, making it really smooth.

We also ordered the most amazing coffeecake with cream cheese and raspberry filling. This treat was a must have.

One last thing, Caffé Bene is cash only, so make sure you bring your bags of money.

coffee, beer, tea, espresso
Yuechen Yang


Coffeetopia is a cute little coffee shop right off of Mission street. Now, looking at google maps you may think, “Why would I go to a coffee shop so far from campus and downtown?” This was my first thought too but when I actually got off the bus and began walking it took me a total of five minutes, so don’t be scared.

Coffeetopia is super small with a huge menu. I heard so many people ordering the Mexican Hot Chocolate, which sounded amazing especially on a rainy day, but I went with a plain old latte. The latte came in one size and was a fairly low price. The foam was absolutely perfect and the coffee was nice and smooth.

This coffee shop has a super cozy atmosphere that makes you want to sit and stay all day. The baristas were very friendly and helpful even after I asked for the WiFi password a dozen times. Coffeetopia also offers a variety of food options like bagels and breakfast burritos, which look super tasty. It sounds nice to eat a burrito and drink coffee in the same place right?

Both of these coffee shops were so unique and different with their atmospheres, their coffee, and the various types of people that go and eat and drink there. Go check 'em out and make sure to try the Mexican Hot Chocolate at Coffeetopia, and the Mocha-Chai at Caffé Bene.