Looking for your next cup of joe? Read on to find coffee shops in the Sacramento area!
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Barrio Cafe

Barrio is located in the Pocket, off 35th and South Land Park. This adorable little coffee shop sits on the outer edge of South Hills Shopping Center, between a Dry Cleaners and a Nail Salon. The drink menu is extensive and enticing (I'm feeling homophones, can you tell?), drawing you in with a dash of cardamom, a sprig of lavender, and a spritz of something sweet. They keep it warm like sticky buns in the winter, so wear some layers you can strip off while enjoying your drink. They make most if not all of their "somethings-to-eat" in house and you can actually watch them prepare the next batch of cookies. People of all sorts  frequent here: students needing a place to study with enough space to spread out their papers, colleagues conducting a working lunch, friends meeting up for some espresso, mothers with their kids, or an out of town aunt and her niece checking out the local barista bar. They had games, including a ornate and intricate chess set carved out of ivory. They had books and comfy chairs. They had a chair, it seemed for every type of person. Stools at the bar. High backed royalty chairs. Sofa lounge facing the window. Wooden 50s school chairs.

This is the kind of coffee shop you go to if you're needing a boost on scene setting and description. Feel the warmth from the heater and notice how people remove their hats and scarves, push up their sleeves. Listen to the espresso grinding coffee beans, the milk wand steaming milk. Hear the scrape of the chair as the mom and her kids leave. Feel the draft of cold air fly in as she holds it open for her kid who's not ready, still pulling on his beanie and stuffing his hands into his jacket which is inside out. Observe the students talking animatedly, lines of worry etched in their foreheads. Glance at the older gentleman sitting contentedly, knees crossed, holding his Americano in one hand a book in the other, but not paying attention to either. Figure out what he's thinking about. Dive into what his morning was like before he arrived. Why he chose Barrio as his resting place before his next activity.


Broadway Coffee

Broadway Coffee sits on the corner of Broadway and 32nd St in East Sacramento. You've probably driven by this place on your way to somewhere else and never even noticed it. But next time you're dropping off your kids at Sac High, or heading to Gunther's for Ice Cream, or driving down 34th the wrong way because every time you try to turn around there's another one way street, pause for a moment at Broadway Coffee.

Even if it's closed or you only have 5 minutes to spare, it'd be worth the visit just to look at the art on the outside of the building. When you think about all the ritzy coffee shops trending right now, what comes to mind is upscale, expensive, high quality, the perfect pour and other glamorous and perfected ideals of what a coffee shop is supposed to be. Broadway coffee is none of these and that's what makes me already yearning to go back. Think of Temple Coffee Roasters, for instance; great coffee shop and I totally support what they're doing to try and sell ethically sourced coffee beans and to provide reusable ware for their consumers to reduce waste. But can you image this mural on the outside of any of their stores? No way. It's not the feel they're going for. But it's what I look for. The mural is what first caught my eye, and then when I realized it was a place that I could actually go into, a place that invited the causal observer, then I was hooked.

If you make it inside the shop, the artwork follows you through the door. Local artists' work hang on the walls, waiting to catch your eye for a glance or a daydream. Community bulletin boards with flyers for meditation, art classes, community shows, and protests, inviting you to participate. A stack of books, sitting patiently for you when you're ready. There are plenty of tables and chairs if you're looking to edit a manuscript, or host a discussion based on the material taught earlier in class, or work quietly in the back with your headphones in, or meet with a potential publisher for the book you've been working on for the last 10 years. But there is also a big couch with a Scrabble board if you need a place to feel at home. The barista is friendly, easy going, welcoming. They sell mugs here, so you can get your chai tea latte in a reusable mug and save the earth one coffee cup, lid, and straw at a time.

No matter the number of people who enter or leave, the room maintains a happy buzz of sound, not distracting you from your work or your conversation, but not drawing you in to other conversations. If you do happen to pick up bits and pieces of the flow of conversation, there is no hesitation or obstruction from joining in. The pace is slower in here, almost as if the busyness of Broadway and the chaos of the inner city have been barred from entry. Maybe if you look closer, the mural is a ward, and those of us brave enough to seek out community will find ourselves in luck and safe behind closed doors.