I’ve spent the last week in San Jose/Santa Clara where, naturally, I’ve been exploring the small but excellent speciality coffee scene. I visited today’s Coffee Spot, B2 Coffee, on my first trip here in January 2017, but I never had time to write it up. Located in the San Pedro Square Market, it’s one of the area’s speciality coffee pioneers and, until it was joined by Chromatic Coffee (a couple of streets over), was pretty much the only speciality coffee outpost in downtown San Jose.
Regular readers are aware of my love of Coffee Spots in Markets, so it’s no surprise that I really liked B2 Coffee, located on one side of a large, communal seating area at the market’s northern end. You can take your coffee at what is effectively an island counter (more brownie points), find a seat (or sofa) in the communal area, or head outside. Talking of the coffee, it’s all roasted by sister company, Kickback, with seasonal offerings on espresso (single option plus decaf), pour-over (usually two options), batch-brew and nitro-cold brew. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes, plus the food hall in the market is at your disposal. And there’s a bar.
May 2019: Sadly, B2 Coffee closed shortly after my visit, although the good news is that Voyager Craft Coffee has taken over the space, opening in June 2019. You can see what I made of it on my return to San Jose in January 2020.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
B2 Coffee has some history to it, B2 being short for Bellano 2, this being the second Bellano Coffee location. The original, which is where it all started in 2006, was just over the city line in neighbouring Santa Clara, on Stevens Creek Boulevard, now home to Voyage Craft Coffee. There was briefly a Bellano 3, while Social Policy, on nearby 1st Street, described by Bellano as a “side project”, closed at the start of April. Throughout this, B2 has soldiered on since first opening its doors in 2012.
The San Pedro Square Market is at the north western edge of San Jose’s compact downtown, on the corner of San Pedro and Saint John Streets. The market, which faces north, has a large, open-air seating area at the front. A row of tables, shaded by large umbrellas, is next to the pavement, followed by more tables in the middle. Finally, in the shade of the building itself, are several sets of comfy chairs/sofas.
Three massive roll-up windows puncture the front of the market, with large, glass double doors at either end. These lead into a massive, open internal communal sitting area, where you’ll find B2 Coffee, tucked away on a stand-alone counter in a niche to the left, its own entrance down the side of the market on San Pedro Street. Outside is a small, semi-enclosed seating area, shaded by more umbrellas.
The communal seating area, with amazing, high ceilings, is flooded by light from the windows along the front, which are joined by two more down the side by B2. On the far side, running the width of the right-hand wall, is a large bar, with the communal seating in the middle. There’s a choice of comfy chairs, massive sofas, communal tables and small tables, although the window bars that were there on my first visit are now gone. An opening in the back wall on the right leads into an L-shaped food hall, lined with various eateries. This also has a separate entrance on San Pedro Street, just a little further down from B2.
The first side door is perhaps your best option, since it drops you right by B2, at the back of the left-hand side of the counter, where you’ll find the till. Next comes the three-group Synesso espresso machine, then, along the narrow corridor-front, is the pour-over. There are three tall chairs down the right-hand side of the counter, which give great views of the espresso machine on the opposite side. The only other seating is provided by six low plastic stools along the left-hand wall between the front of the market and the start of the counter. These are best used for sitting while waiting for your coffee.
When I first visited in 2017, I had an Ethiopian single-origin pour-over via the V60. Served in a large diner-style mug, with a little glass on the side, I used the glass to drink out of, pouring in small amounts from the mug. My pour-over was excellent: smooth and fruity, it evolved as it cooled, developing even more complexity. I paired this with an equally fruity cherry turnover, which was just as good.
On my return two years later, I tried the house-blend as an espresso. A mix of a honey-processed El Salvador and a natural Brazil, it was really interesting. A rich, complex coffee with lots of body, it was funky on the first sip, but calmed down slightly thereafter. I paired this with some Monkey Bread, which was also just as good. Served warm, it was sweet and moist, but not too sickly.
|87 NORTH SAN PEDRO STREET • SAN JOSE • CA 95110 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Kickback (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Counter; Tables, Sofas (Shared Space); Tables (Outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||31st January 2017, 25th April 2019|
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