Let's face it: every college student is obsessed with coffee shops. Why wouldn't we be? They have a hipster vibe, they provide us with the caffeine we need to get through our hectic schedules, and they have free Wi-Fi. Personally, I'm over the big chain shops that can literally be found on every corner. I crave uniqueness, and I always shop locally if I can. Fortunately, I am from Vacaville, CA, which happens to be home to the best coffee shop that I have ever visited: Journey Coffee Company.

Cat Taylor

Journey was opened in 2015 by Morne Van Staden, a kind-hearted and enthusiastic man who is originally from South Africa. Travel has played a huge role in Van Staden's life (hence the name "Journey"), and his experiences have shaped his passion for this business. Van Staden cares about quality, health and, most importantly, people. He wanted to create a community-based atmosphere where people can make memories and build relationships over an awesome cup of Joe. Here are several reasons why you should visit this magical place:

Fair Trade and Organic Coffee Beans

beer, coffee
Cat Taylor

This is just one of the many instances where Van Staden's passion for people is highlighted. "Fair trade" means that the coffee beans are purchased from farms where laborers are paid a high enough wage to support their families. Just by purchasing your coffee at Journey, you are supporting families from many different parts of the world including Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Colombia, Uganda, Panama and Nicaragua. 

This coffee has other great qualities. Journey's coffee is what's called "third wave", which focuses on the purity of coffee and roasting it to a degree that complements each type of bean. It tastes lighter, sweeter and fruitier than the dark coffee sold at Starbucks or Peet's (who sell second wave coffee).

Third wave is also "anti-mixing", which means that only a little syrup or milk is added to the drink in order to preserve the full coffee flavor. Anti-mixing also goes along with Journey's promotion of health. None of the drinks are topped with whipped cream, and you won't find a frappuccino here either. I don't know about you, but I think we need to appreciate the pure flavor of coffee rather than downing a cup of sugar with a little bit of coffee.

#SpoonTip: Contrary to popular belief, light roast coffee actually has more caffeine. A good amount of caffeine in dark coffee is burned off during roasting. If you need an extra boost, stick with lighter roasted coffee.  

The Famous Lavender Latte

cream, mocha, milk, espresso, cappuccino, coffee
Cat Taylor

I don't drink coffee very often, but I have a hard time not ordering this delicious beverage every time I stop by. What gives this drink its flavor is a homemade simple syrup made with infused lavender. The drink has the perfect amount of sweetness (which is something I find much too overwhelming at Starbucks), and it is topped with beautiful latte art

Ridiculously Delicious Food

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Cat Taylor

Journey serves a variety of food options that appeal to every palate. Their menu includes breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, wraps, salads, superfood smoothie bowls and the one-of-a-kind stuffed avocado (pictured above). This beauty is one of their best-sellers. It's definitely one of my favorite items, and it pairs perfectly with California's avocado obsession. My mouth may or may not be watering right now.

Sweet Treats (Especially the Macarons)

sweetmeat, macaroon, cream, cookie, pastry, candy, chocolate, sweet, cake
Cat Taylor

Journey sells some of the tastiest treats that I have ever had (all homemade, of course) including scones, pop-tarts, energy balls, cookies and macarons. The most popular treat is the macarons; they are to die for. Some of the flavors include salted caramel, birthday cake, strawberry, basil and fig and the oh-so-popular cannoli macaron. Morne says that Journey sells about 3,000 of these per month! Seriously, you have to try these.

Juices and Smoothies

Cat Taylor

I am a smoothie and juice junkie. When Journey added a juice bar a little over a year ago (which has been recently combined with the coffee side of the shop), I was ecstatic. The juices are cold-pressed, and the smoothies are made with fresh and wholesome ingredients.

What's awesome about the smoothie menu is that each drink is accompanied by a short description (aside from a list of the ingredients). For example, The Green Machine smoothie is described as an appetite suppressant and digestion aide. So, if you can't decide which one to order, you can decide based on how your body is feeling. My favorite juice is the Go Natural, and my favorite smoothie is the Good Morning. 

Local Products

Cat Taylor

Journey is a local business that supports other local businesses. Journey sells handmade soaps, sugar scrubs, 3Strands bracelets (proceeds from these help victims of sex trafficking), candles and pottery. The candles are made in Vacaville by Melt Candle Co., owned by long-time Vacavillians Lauren and Olivia Duffy. I actually had the privilege of working with sweet Lauren at another local business who also sells 3Strands bracelets. I absolutely love how supportive this community is. 

Live Music

In staying with the local theme, Journey hosts live music performances by local artists every Friday night. Journey also sells beer, so it's fun to sip on a brew and enjoy the talent this community has to offer. They even host open mic nights on the first Friday of every month. Oh, and for all of The Voice fans out there...

That's right. Vacaville is home to Lyndsey Elm who pulled a four-chair turn from the judges and joined Gwen Stefani's team on Season 9 of The Voice. Lyndsey has performed a couple times at Journey, even before she made it on national television. She is now performing at many different locations, but every now and then you can find her at Journey. It's pretty cool to be able to say that you saw a famous artist at a local coffee shop in Vacaville.  

Cat Taylor

In the future, Van Staden hopes to open other locations. He is currently working on opening a sit-down restaurant in downtown Vacaville, which will also house a catering and roasting facility along with a bakery. He also wants to expand into other towns and possibly open locations in Napa or Davis (holla). I highly recommend that you make the "journey" (sorry, I can't help the pun) to Vacaville and give this incredible place a try. I promise that you will be hooked.