What's brewing in downtown Walnut Creek?

Coffee, anyone?  

If you enjoy drinking distinctive, aromatic coffee most anytime of the day, travel by BART to the Walnut Creek Station. Take a 15-minute walk to downtown, or for convenience, hop on board the County Connection "Free Ride" Downtown Trolley (it resembles an indoor cable car), just outside the station to your left. 

Once you arrive downtown, explore these three unique coffee houses that are sure to put a skip in your step. 

Coffee Shop

Located at 1321 Locust Street, Coffee Shop is a “multi-roaster” cafe where coffee choices are abound in a relaxing, rustic environment (think wood surfaces, white tile and exposed ducts). The cafe offers free WiFi, along with booths, communal tables and cozy chairs. Bring your laptop, or family and friends, and enjoy a cup of pourover coffee (where a barista slowly pours water over the coffee grounds to extract more flavor). 

At Coffee Shop, you “call it” from a line-up of featured roasters, such as Cafe Grumpy from Brooklyn, New York, and Andytown Coffee Roasters from San Francisco. All featured roasters have bagged coffee for sale as well. 

The enormous “Locally Grown and Made” chalkboard menu on the wall will help guide you (as well as friendly, approachable staff) to local favorites such as the Minted Iced Cold Brew or Coconut Orange Iced Latte.

Want to step up your coffee drink a notch or two? "Spike Your Coffee" with liqueurs such as Baileys, Hangar 1, Bulleit and Peppermint Schnapps.

My favorite drink was a beautiful, frothy, bold-tasting cafe mocha (with a foam leaf) served in a baby blue cup and saucer, created by barista Hanna using beans from Anchorhead Roasters in Duvall, Wash. My pastry choice was a flaky, homemade, strawberry-filled pop tart, dusted with powdered sugar and served warm. The perfect compliment with my mocha. 

Coffee Shop is the busiest between 7 and 10am, and the noise level is moderate with plenty of room to navigate throughout the premises. 

Cafe Leonidas

Come inside Cafe Leonidas, located at 1397 North Main Street, for a taste of Europe. This tiny, quaint cafe is where quality coffee is paired with decedent, high-end fresh Belgian chocolates.

Every cup of coffee is served with a small Belgian cookie and piece of Belgian chocolate, along with personal service provided by owner Anne Morgan (who says 85 percent of customers are repeats).

Weaver’s Organic Blend, a medium strong brew, is served here in small batches all day long, so it’s always fresh. John Weaver is a master roaster who apprenticed under legendary Alfred Peet (founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea). Weaver’s coffee beans are grown at a high altitude from regions that span the equatorial belt, and are sold fresh at Cafe Leonidas. Be sure to pick up a bag on your way out.

A customer favorite is an espresso served with two shots of Weaver’s Organic Blend. I sampled a cup of Weaver’s with sugar and organic cream – no bitterness, just pure mellowness. The Holiday Blend is another favorite available during the winter months.

Caffe La Scala

Explore Caffe La Scala, a European-inspired cafe located at 1655 N. Main St. This cafe is a long-time favorite with the working crowd, retired visitors and many Europeans themselves. The French roast drip is a customer favorite, who often relax or read a magazine inside or outside the cafe's plaza area.

Enjoy an affogato (a generous scoop of vanilla gelato served over an espresso), or try a creamy made-in-house tiramisu to enjoy with your java. I sampled a hazelnut mocha espresso (my favorite) made by barista Tihani, accompanied by a fresh, buttery croissant.

The noise level can be a bit challenging in the early hours and possibly late evenings when the college crowd gathers to study in a warm, inviting atmosphere.  Accessible restrooms are located outside the cafe in a separate (code-in) building.

Once you're done coffee tasting, board the downtown trolley back to BART. You’ll be glad you sipped some coffee and more! 

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