B2 Coffee

"B2 PROUDLY serving KICK BACK", taken from the board outside B2 in San Pedro Square Market.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.

  • The San Pedro Square Market, home to B2 Coffee in downtown San Jose.
  • Here's a similar view from my first visit late one January evening in 2017.
  • The front of the market faces north onto Saint John Street.
  • ... while here's the view down the left-hand side looking across San Pedro Street.
  • There's an old Chevy truck parked on the corner of San Pedro and Saint John Streets.
  • This gives you a better view.
  • Nothing to do with the market: just the cross-walk, but a very pretty one at that!
  • The view from the right-hand end of the market. There's plenty of outdoor seating.
  • This row of tables lines the front, shaded by umbrellas, as seen here in 2015.
  • The view from the opposite corner. There are plenty of tables in the middle.
  • One of many ways into the market is to use this door at the front on the left-hand side.
  • The door in all its colourful, welcoming detail.
  • There's more outside seating down the left-hand side, sheltered by further umbrellas.
  • The view from the other side (in 2017).
  • Beyond the outdoor seating, there's another door into the market.
  • This sign, seen in 2017, gives the game away. You'll find B2 Coffee down here.
  • The sign, by the way, was very much the same in 2019!
  • Stepping inside, you find yourself at the end of the B2 Coffee Counter (photo from 2017).
  • This fills a niche down the market's left-hand side. You order by the door & collect here.
  • If you want to linger, there are three high chairs at the right-hand side of the counter.
  • Alternatively, there are stools against the left-hand window.
  • However, that's just the start of it. You have the whole market area for seating...
  • ... which, in 2017, started with an open space, a row of tables, and these sofas.
  • However, come my visit last week, there was much more seating, with tables at this end.
  • At the far end is a beautfiully-decorated bar, where you'll find the sofas these days.
  • As well as being beautifully-decorated, the bar is also well stocked.
  • A view of communal seating area from by the bar.
  • There's more! Beyond the bar, you come into the food hall area. This has more tables...
  • ... and multiple food outlets...
  • ... extending around the corner in an L-shape, where there are more food outlets.
  • One of the things that I really liked on my first visit was the lighting in the main space.
  • Strings of bulbs were interspersed by chandeliers like this one.
  • However, like the seating, the lighting has been upgraded. These hang at the B2 end....
  • ... of the communal space, each light a long bundle of cylindrical lights.
  • Meanwhile these vertical cylindrical bundles hang at the bar end of the communal space.
  • Although similar at first sight, their structure is quite different.
  • Turning from the lighting, another nice touch came from the flowers on the counter.
  • To business. You order at the far end of the counter, by the door on San Pedro Street.
  • You'll find the till here (as seen in 2017).
  • These were the coffee choices (left) and tea options (right) on my first visit in 2017.
  • The menu, meanwhile, was on a pillar behind the till.
  • These days it's still there, but it has been upgraded.
  • Off to the left is the cake and pastry selection from Manresa Bread.
  • The coffee, meanwhile, is all roasted by sister company, Kick Back.
  • Batch brew, and the grinder for pour-over, are behind the till...
  • ... which is where I started in 2017 with a V60 pour-over.
  • My coffee, 22g of a lovely Ethiopian single-origin, is added & we have the first pour.
  • This lets the coffee bloom and, after 30 seconds, the main pour starts.
  • Through a series of near-continuous, short, controlled pours...
  • ... the V60 is slowly filled. Here we're a minute in and 97g of water has been added.
  • The pouring continues as the V60 continues to be filled.
  • We are near the end now. 256g of water has been added, out of a target of 350g.
  • And we're done. Now all we have to do is wait for the water to filter through...
  • ... and serve in a classic diner mug.
  • On my return in 2019 I turned to espresso (seen here from the opposite side)...
  • ... having a shot of the house-blend with some monkey bread.
  • My coffee and cake, seen from above.
  • The espresso, which was excellent, came with a class of sparkling water....
  • ... while I'll leave you with my monkey bread, which was every bit as good!
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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.

www.bellanocoffee.com +1 408-244-2457
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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