Just off Highway 1 in southern California, east of Monterey, in the delightfully-named town of Seaside, is a parking lot. Not just any old parking lot, mind you. This one’s special. Although I did wonder, as I pulled in, if I’d come to the right place… However, there, at the back of the lot, in a low, garage-like building, is the Acme Coffee Roasting Company, purveyors of fine artisan, small-batch coffee.
Acme, which was established in 2004, roasts all its own coffee. Indeed, this used to be the roastery, but as the company grew, the roaster was moved to a dedicated facility, leaving this space as a lovely little coffee bar. There’s a blend and single-origin on espresso, plus a filter bar, where the drip coffee is made to order using pour-over cones. There’s also the obligatory bulk-brew if you’re in a hurry and a selection of cakes and sweet-treats.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
That I found the Acme Coffee Roasting Company is entirely down to my friend Karen, who, as a Bay Area native, was bombarding me with suggestions as I drove north up Highway 1/Route 101 on my recent trip to the USA. However, finding the Acme Coffee Roasting Company is not as straightforward as it seems. To start with, it’s not on Palm Avenue, whatever the address says. It’s actually off Contra Costa Street, which runs between Broadway and Palm Avenues, and it’s in an honest-to-goodness parking lot!
I really did do a double-take when I pulled in, but I trust my friends and, sure enough, there, at the back of the lot, was a low-slung building, looking for all the world like a garage, but housing the very lovely Acme coffee counter.
There’s really not a lot to the coffee counter. While there is some seating, it’s more of a drive up, get out, order coffee, get coffee, then drive away again operation, so takeaway cups predominate (fortunately, I had my trusty Ecoffee Cup with me). There is some seating though, if you want to linger, and a selection of china cups if you’re drinking espresso (so I didn’t need my Kaffeeform cup, which I also had with me).
The coffee counter is behind a roll-up door, which in turn is protected by a plastic lean-to structure with a corrugated plastic roof and doors at either end. This houses a small table and two stools if you want to sit in (I did) or there are two pairs of chairs outside facing the parking lot, one pair on either side of the lean-to. The actual space consists of nothing more than a counter with some retail shelves to either side, leaving the focus firmly on the coffee.
At first, I confess, I was sceptical, with the menu offering sizes starting at 12oz and going up to 20oz. However, there was a 10oz cappuccino and a 4oz macchiato and then I noticed the board with the various espresso-blends (six in all, including one decaf) and four single-origins, one of which, the Ethiopia Sidamo Natural Guji, was available on espresso. The house espresso (Motor City Blend) also sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a go.
I started with a cappuccino in my Ecoffee Cup and was rewarded with a lovely coffee. I’d feared it might be a little too dark for me, but it was actually very well-balanced, the milk and coffee in perfect harmony. Emboldened by this, I tried the Ethiopian single-origin espresso on its own, quite a rich, punchy shot, although not as floral as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed both my coffees.
I would have loved to have tried the pour-over filter, but I was short of time and, by then, rather over-caffeinated, so I had to give it a miss. However, if you’re driving along Highway 1, then I recommend stopping off at Seaside and taking the time to find Acme and its parking lot!
December 2017: Acme Coffee Roasting Company was a runner-up for the 2017 Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
|485 PALM AVENUE • SEASIDE • CA 93955 • USA|
|Monday||06:30 – 15:30||Roaster||Acme (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||06:30 – 15:30||Seating||Stools, Chairs (outside)|
|Wednesday||06:30 – 15:30||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||06:30 – 15:30||Service||Counter|
|Friday||06:30 – 15:30||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 15:00||Wifi||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||26th January 2017|
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