Whether you need a quick espresso pick-me-up or a relaxing morning latte, there’s no better way to get an early start than with a hot cup of java brewed on-site. Coffee lovers can rejoice when visiting, as Santa Barbara’s coffee scene offers a variety of atmospheres and roasts to suit your fancy, outdoor seating included. From bean to mug, Santa Barbara’s coffee aficionados can all agree that the following shops are the best in town to grab a cup of joe.
Established in 1989, Santa Barbara Roasting Company has the coffee grind down to a science. The company’s small-batch roasts (under 50 pounds each) have made a splash in the coffee-drinking community, and it continue to sell its beans in-shop as well as brewing on-site. Santa Barbara Roasting Company (RoCo as locals affectionately call it) offers over 70 varieties of organic and shade grown fair trade coffee. The prolific downtown roastery offers spacious outdoor seating for you to sip coffee and catch up on the news, or sample one of the assorted breakfast muffins, cookies and bagels fresh from the café. The hand-painted art depicting Santa Barbara along the upper interior walls adds an element of nostalgia to the industrial space.
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First established as an artsy, laidback coffee spot in Isla Vista (and a fan favorite among UCSB students), Cajé has now expanded into Arlington Plaza as an open air coffee-sipping hideaway, Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center for direct grab-and-go ordering and into the Haley Corridor, Santa Barbara’s newest neighborhood, with a special twist. A titillating collaboration between owner Ryan Patronyk and his industry partner Sean Sepulveda, Cajé on Haley Street rules the daylight hours as a swanky brew stop, only to be converted to Lab Social, a secretive prohibition-era speakeasy that comes alive once the clock strikes 5 p.m. Daytime includes coffee drinks with innovative garnishes and too-pretty-to-drink designs, while nighttime ushers in tasty alcoholic beverages. Both Cajé and Lab Social offer light bites throughout the day and into the night.
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Nestled in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone neighborhood, Dart Coffee Co. fuels locals and visitors alike. The art-minded owners, Erika Carter and David Dart, contribute the eclectic coffee experience to their shared love of art and the sciences. Dart Coffee boasts an array of drip coffees, pulled-shot specialty drinks and organic teas. Watch the beans roast right before your eyes as you decide which drink to order and top off the morning with a warm, locally baked pastry. A percentage of every bean sold goes towards the Yanonali Street Artist Fund, an organization helping sustain artist studios in Santa Barbara’s diverse art districts. Once you’ve made your purchase, walk across the street to savor your freshly brewed coffee in the shade of the Coffee Garden at Greenhouse Studios, a serene garden space designated for Dart Coffee Co. customers that’s perfect for soaking up the artistic beauty of the Funk Zone.
Photo credit: @dartcoffeeco via Instagram
With two locations along De La Vina Street, The Daily Grind has been serving up hearty breakfasts, fresh baked goods, fruity smoothies and of course, hot coffee and tea since 1995. The expansive patios and shady retreats provide impeccable space for small gatherings. Day in and out, the family-owned shop is always bustling with kind locals. Try the chorizo breakfast burrito and “Peachy Keen” smoothie for the full Daily Grind experience. Also, feel free to bring Fido along for your morning stroll as the outdoor patio is pup-friendly.
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Across the street from the historic El Presidio de Santa Barbara, the original location of Handlebar Coffee is no stranger to bustling sidewalks and vibrant culture. A testament to their array of coffee, tea, and hot treats, Handlebar Coffee started as a passion project for owners Kim Anderson and Aaron Olsen, who realized their love for cafes and coffee when cycling professionally around the world. The couple moved to Santa Barbara back in 2008, opened the coffee shop and micro-roastery in 2011, and have been grinding bags of delicious coffee ever since. Recently, Handlebar Coffee opened up a second location on upper De La Vina street, which plays host to the same curated menu, plus live music and spacious patio seating. Handlebar roasts 2-3 times per week with beans sourced from Central and South America, as well as Africa. Swing by for an iced vanilla latte and warm scone–the perfect start to a morning in Santa Barbara.
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A quaint coffee bar with locations on the Mesa, Chapala Street and Haley Street in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Lighthouse Coffee is a one-stop shop featuring warm brews, ample outdoor seating, a delicious breakfast menu and a variety of freshly-baked pastries. The beachy, New England-style interiors showcase local art for purchase, and provide a haven for working professionals to focus on the task at hand, assisted by the proper amount of caffeine. Lighthouse also offers a multitude of dairy alternatives for those who are not lactose-friendly, so you can enjoy your latte worry-free. Stop in and grab an iced coffee to start the day, you won’t regret it!
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A large sunlit patio and ample seating complement the rich espresso and coffee drinks served at the Dune Coffee Roasters location on Anacapa Street. Opt for a more close-knit, studious vibe at the State Street address, or grab a warm brew on your way into town from the Goleta location. All three cafés offer spectacular fresh baked goods—the sourdough toast, piled high with strikingly pink sliced radishes and creamy avocado, is an absolute must-try. What began as two baristas working an espresso machine has blossomed into a full-blown coffee shop, roastery and bakery in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Dune offers dozens of unique flavors to sip, so grab a cup to go and peruse Santa Barbara’s iconic white-washed adobe and red-tile roofed side streets. Or simply relax in the shade to people watch and soak in the energy of our small seaside haven with a refreshing iced coffee.
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Turkish coffee, hot tea, baklava, and more beckon passersby into Lokum, an intricately decorated Turkish coffee shop that transports guests to another world. Indulge in the 30+ varieties of Turkish delights (vegan and gluten-free options available) or snack on a piece of sweet, crunchy pistachio-laden baklava while taking in the sights of State Street. In a rush? Order your coffee to go, and pick up a custom assortment box of sweets to enjoy on the road. Lokum also sells authentic copper Turkish kitchenware (Cezve) for when you want to make incredible coffee or tea at home.
Photo credit: @lokum_sb via Instagram
Where to drink coffee in Goleta, Montecito & Summerland
Red Kettle Coffee is known for its warm, welcoming spirit and devotion to the community, as well as its delicious locally brewed coffees and teas. Summerland’s main coffee stop, Red Kettle, is close in the hearts of not only locals but also those passing through for the day. Offering freshly baked pastries daily and locally roasted coffee and teas, the quaint coffee shop is an ideal outdoor enclave for studying, relaxing and soaking in the laidback atmosphere of this beachside town. Popular menu items include the matcha latte and the 805 medium roast.
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Sleek, sophisticated, and smooth are three ways to describe both the interior design and coffee of Caffe Luxxe at the Montecito Country Mart. Caffe Luxxe has made waves as a premier coffee hot spot for visitors and locals alike exploring Montecito’s retail scene. The marble countertops serve as the perfect canvas for the shop’s baristas to prepare your roast, and the minimalist décor evokes a sense of luxurious architectural wonder. Inspired by café culture in Italy, the shop’s creators champion hand crafted artisanal espresso and brewed coffee. Try the Montenero Blend, a coffee that exudes strong notes of dark chocolate and rich caramel. Or, purchase one of the many other varieties of coffee that Caffe Luxxe micro roasts to bring the flavors and aromas back home with you.
Photo credit: @aliciachofoto
Dean: Where Seattle-brewed Victrola coffee meets the Santa Barbara coast. Looking for a warm, welcoming place to sip a latte and enjoy the fresh air? Dean: A Coffee Shop is where you can expect delicious foamy drinks, warm bites (breakfast quesadillas, anyone?) and a positive atmosphere. Nestled in the quiet business park off Hollister Road, you won’t regret popping by for an espresso and a peaceful morning.
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Nestled in the heart of Goleta, Old Town Coffee has established itself as the go-to spot for strong roasts and friendly people. The rustic interior and smell of espresso wafting through the air draws in customers, who come for a cup of coffee and stay for the outdoor patio. With plenty of open space to relax with family and friends, Old Town Coffee is a definite must. Try an iced oat milk latte on a warm, sunny morning—you won’t be disappointed. If you happen to be in Santa Barbara cruising down State Street Promenade, stop in Old Town’s other location within Mosaic Locale for your caffeine fix as well. Along with coffee, the communal space offers up piping hot Buena Onda empanadas and Draughtsman Aleworks craft beers within a chic, minimalist setup.
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