RAWR Coffee Bar

The sign hanging outside RAWR Coffee Bar, part of Cat Town in Oakland, California.I must confess that I’ve never given much thought to visiting cat cafés, even though I really like cats. However, when my friend Richard suggested Cat Town in Oakland, which has the RAWR Coffee Bar attached, I was intrigued. Cat Town was America’s first cat café when it opened in 2014, while the RAWR Coffee Bar followed in 2017. Although linked (you enter Cat Town via RAWR, for example), they operate independently, so you’re free to pop into the coffee bar without any obligation to visit Cat Town.

What makes Cat Town stand out from the other cat cafés that I’ve previously been aware of is that all the cats in residence are up for adoption (which is why Richard was there). You can read more about Cat Town’s work in its own Saturday Supplement. Meanwhile, today’s Saturday Short focuses on the RAWR Coffee Bar, which serves espresso-based drinks and a batch brew filter option from local roasters Highwire. There’s also a small selection of pastries if you’re hungry.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Broadway, in downtown Oakland, stands this interesting building, complete with turret.
  • Although it has quite a wide front, it stretches even further back along 29th Street.
  • The turret is a neat feature, although it's actually the ground floor that we're interested in.
  • It's home to Cat Town, the first cat cafe in the USA!
  • Although there's a door on the corner, that's not actually the entrance. Instead, you...
  • ... need to head down the side, along 29th Street, and past the three outside tables...
  • ... where you'll find the RAWR Coffee Bar at the far end.
  • There's also an A-board at street level in case you miss the sign!
  • Says it all, really...
  • ... although this is also true.
  • The opening times are on the door. And yes, I see what they did there.
  • Inside, and the RAWR Coffee Bar occupies a simple, large space at the back of Cat Town.
  • There are two ways in. The first is down the broad steps in front of you...
  • ... which are seen here looking the other way.
  • There's a short, two-person bar tucked away to the right of the steps...
  • ... while there's a four-person bar running along the side of the ramp...
  • ... which is the other way into the coffee bar (and Cat Town), offering step-free access.
  • The ramp deposits you at the last of the seating, a four-person window-bar...
  • ... which overlooks the main room of Cat Town.
  • The view into Cat Town from the window at the bottom of the ramp.
  • Meanwhile, here's the view looking back from inside Cat Town. That's Karen, by the way.
  • Back in the RAWR Coffee Bar, there's the door to Cat Town...
  • ... which features an airlock-type arrangement to prevent the cats escaping.
  • The view back along the RAWR Coffee Bar from the door, with the seating to the right...
  • ... and the counter to the left, which faces you as you enter.
  • On the far, right-hand wall, there is plenty of cat-related merchandising.
  • And, of course, the walls are covered with some very lovely drawings of cats...
  • ... of which this was my favourite.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • Down to business and the gleaming, stainless steel counter.
  • You order at the tilll, which is at the left-hand end...
  • ... where you'll find the simple menu and some snacks.
  • There is also a limited selection of cakes if you are hungry.
  • The main part of the operation is the red La Marzocco Linea espresso machine...
  • ... where you'll also find a wide selection of beans for sale.
  • If you don't fancy espresso, there's also batch brew...
  • ... although I had a classic espresso, served in a classic cup, which is where I'll leave you.
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Although Cat Town/RAWR Coffee Bar is on Broadway, a main north-south drag through the centre of Oakland, the entrance is at the back of the building (easily recognisable by its corner turret), around the corner on 29th Street. Together they take up building’s ground floor, with Cat Town occupying the front, RAWR Coffee Bar at the back, where you’ll also find three small, square two-person tables outside on the pavement, tucked up against the wall.

The door is at the far end, past the tables, and leads you into the back of the coffee bar, on the right-hand side. Since 29th Street slopes upwards, the door is significantly above floor level. There are two ways down: either straight ahead, down three broad steps, or to your left, where a long, gentle ramp runs down the right-hand wall to deposit you at the front of the coffee bar, where a four-person window-bar overlooks Cat Town beyond. If you want to watch the cats at play (or at sleep), but can’t go inside, then this is the next best thing.

There’s not much more to the coffee bar. The counter runs along the left-hand wall, facing the door/ramp, while there’s a four-person bar, where you sit with your back to the counter, running along the side of the ramp. Finally, tucked away next to the door/top end of the ramp, is a little two-person bar, which are the best seats in the house if you want some privacy!

The coffee bar has a limited espresso-based menu (espresso or Americano, plus cappuccino or latte for milk-based drinks) served using The Core, a blend from Highwire Coffee Roasters. This is joined by a batch brew drawn from Highwire’s range of single-origins, the specific beans changing every few weeks. All the beans, including multiple blends and single-origins, are available to buy in retail bags, along with a large selection of cat-related merchandising.

I had an espresso, The Core producing a classic, well-balanced shot which went down a treat. If you are visiting the coffee bar as part of your visit to Cat Town, you’re welcome to take your drinks in with you. Alternatively, you can come just for the coffee (which is what my friend Karen did, since her asthma prevented her from visiting the cats), although if you do, I recommend coming on the half-hour since on the hour, every hour, there is quite a rush as one set of Cat Town visitors leave and the next set assemble in readiness to spend their allotted hour with the cats.

2869 BROADWAY • OAKLAND • CA 94612 • USA
www.eatlikealion.com +1 510-701-7297
Monday 08:00 – 15:00 Roaster Highwire (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 15:00 Seating Bars, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Payment Cash + Cards
Saturday 08:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 5th January 2020

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