There’s something about Stevens Creek Boulevard, home of today’s Coffee Spot, Voyager Craft Coffee. It occupies the very unit that was home to the original Bellano Coffee, now established in downtown San Jose as B2 Coffee. Meanwhile, heading slightly further along (going west towards Cupertino) you’ll find Chromatic Coffee, another coffee shop/roaster with a considerable reputation.
However, at first sight this all seems very unlikely. Stevens Creek Boulevard is a busy urban highway, lined with wall-to-wall car dealerships on either side. This is pretty much the impression you get at second sight too. Walking along it further reinforced this impression. It is definitely not somewhere you would expect to find great coffee, but, tucked away along its north side, in a non-descript unit at the end of a non-descript mall, is Voyager Craft Coffee.
These days, Voyager roasts its own coffee, with a blend on espresso and five filter options, which includes a guest and a decaf. There’s also a range of destination drinks, inspired by the coffee cultures of various countries around the world, plus some seasonal specials. If you’re hungry, there’s a concise, toasted-based food menu, with a selection of cakes and pastries if you want something sweeter.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Voyager Craft Coffee opened in September 2016, which meant that it was just four months old when I first visited San Jose in January 2017. Even so, it had already done enough at that point to establish a very good reputation. Sadly I missed it back then, so jumped at the chance to visit on this trip.
It occupies a fairly nondescript unit at the left-hand end of a short mall along the busy Steven’s Creek Boulevard. This, coincidentally, is the main route from San Jose to the Apple campus, which my friend Richard drives every day, which is how I got there. If you’re reliant on your own transport, it’s also on the 23 bus route (which is how I get back). Either way, you really need to know it’s there since, with the car park between the road and coffee shop, it’s all too easy to miss.
Voyager makes good use of its corner location. The front, aside from two pillars at either end, is floor-to-ceiling glass, while the left-hand side has another large floor-to-ceiling window at the front and a small, narrow one at the back. There are two glass doors, one at the right-hand end at the front, with a second, which leads to the outdoor seating area to the left, in the first side window. This leads to a very bright interior, which, due to its south-facing aspect, catches the midday sun, making the broad, permanent sunshades a necessity.
Inside, the simplicity continues with the counter occupying the right-hand side, a small gap between it and door leaving space for those queuing to order. The till is at the front, cakes to the left at 45°, with the pour-over set-up above it. Batch-brew and grinders are along the right-hand wall behind the counter, while opposite it, running down the left-hand side of the counter, facing into the store, is the three-group La Marzocco Strada, a narrow ledge projecting from the counter in front of it, where you can sit on one of three high stools. The counter stops just short of the back wall, leaving space for a small, enclosed kitchen.
The remainder of the roughly square space contains the seating, starting with a five-person window-bar running the width of the front window. There’s a cluster of five two-person tables behind this, one near the counter and then two-pairs of two heading towards the left-hand side. A gap follows, allowing access from the side door to the counter, the seating continuing beyond that with a combined six-person communal table in the centre, with another two-person table against the wall.
Beyond, the store opens slightly to the left, creating a cosy nook at the back, where a wooden bench and three two-person tables provides the seating. Finally, a narrow, waist-high table against the back provides the last of the (interior) seating, with six high stools. There’s also a broad outside seating area down the left-hand side, with a handful of round, three-person tables. This is shaded in the morning, but catches the full force of the sun during the rest of the day.
When it opened, Voyager used AKA from across the bay in Oakland, but began roasting in February 2019. There’s a house-blend (still roasted by AKA during my visit, but which should now be roasted in-house) which is also available on filter, where it’s joined by four further options, all single-origins, one of which is a decaf.
I began with a flat white, which I still don’t see very frequently on American menus, paired with the avocado toast, a perfectly-executed example of the type, with a slice of toast topped by a finely-sliced avocado. The flat white was excellent, the coffee in harmony with the rich, creamy milk to provide the perfect start to the day.
I followed this with a pour-over, selecting the El Salvador Finca Las Ventanas, which came in a short, wide mug. A full-bodied, well-rounded coffee, it matured as it cooled, with more fruity notes coming to the fore. I had expressed an interest in a morning bun (rich, croissant dough covered in cinnamon sugar) to accompany it, but the barista had recommended against it, fearing it would overwhelm the coffee. Now that is great customer service!
Before I left, I caught up with owners, Lauren and Sam, who told me that the name (Voyager) was inspired by their love of travelling, reflected in a series of “destination drinks”, inspired by the world’s varied coffee cultures, including two from their recent trip to Shanghai and Tokyo!
June 2019: Voyager now has a second location, inside the San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose. You can see what I made of it when I visited in January 2020.
|3985 STEVENS CREEK BOULEVARD • SANTA CLARA • CA 95091 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Voyager (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Bars, Counter; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:00 – 19:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||22nd April 2019|
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