Today’s Coffee Spot saw me venture to Berkeley for the first time (unless you count passing through on the California Zephyr enroute to Chicago in 2019) to visit the CoRo Coffee Room. Indeed, I had come to Berkeley specifically for the Coffee Room, following a recommendation by Linea Coffee Roasters on the previous day. Located in southwest Berkeley, down the hill from the famous college, the Coffee Room is near the Amtrak station, which was convenient for me since I came by train from San Jose.
I was unaware of CoRo (Bay Area CoRoasters) before my visit. Since 2016 it’s provided a shared roasting space for over 40 roasters, while the Coffee Room, which showcases the roastery’s output, opened in 2018. Occupying the front of the warehouse-like production area, it’s a wonderfully open space, with amazing high ceilings and a great view of the roasters through a window at the back. You can buy coffee from any of CoRo’s roasters, while there’s a choice of coffee to drink, including a blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, two options on batch brew filter, another on pour-over plus there’s cold brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a section of cakes and pastries.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
CoRo Coffee Room is on the western side of Fifth Street, a quiet thoroughfare running north-south a couple of blocks inland from the train tracks and freeway which run along the coast. It occupies the northern end of a large light-industrial building which it shares with a restaurant. There are five two-person tables on the pavement at the front of the Coffee Room, three to the right of the wide double doors and two to the left, in front of the tall, square window. Although there are more tables to the left, these belong to its neighbour, Passione Kitchen.
The Coffee Room occupies an open, cube-like space, which is bright and airy, with a very high ceiling. The window at the front is matched by one at the back, which looks out across the roastery, while there’s a small one in the wall on the right, high above the counter, which runs along the right-hand wall, set back slightly from the doors.
You’ll find a retail selection here against the wall to your right, loaded with bags of coffee from the 40+ roasters which use CoRo’s facilities, while ahead of you are the cakes and pastries, although to order you have to go around to the long part of the counter. Here you’ll find the till, with the three-group Kees van der Westen Mirage espresso machine and its grinders to the left.
The seating occupies the left-hand two thirds of the Coffee Room, organised in two rows running front-to-back. A long, padded bench lines the left-hand wall with four two-person and one four-person table, while the second row runs down the middle. This starts with a two-person table under the window at the front, followed by a four-person and two-person table, ending with a six-person communal table beyond that. Finally, right at back, is the door to roastery, while to its left, a four-person bar with chairs runs along the tall, multi-paned window which looks into the roastery. Naturally, that’s where I ended up sitting.
You might think that with the roasters just behind it, the Coffee Room would be noisy, but it was a lovely, quiet space when I was there, most of the customers (including me) working away on their laptops.
As nice as the space is, the real draw’s the coffee, where there’s a choice of blend or single-origin (both from CoRo itself) on espresso, joined by a decaf (provided, during my visit, by Zolo Cofffe). There are also two single-origin options on batch brew filter (both of which were from Yellow Rose Coffee), another on pour-over (from Bassline Coffee) and one more on cold brew (from Whiptail Coffee).
I was, as you can imagine, like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. I wanted to try (and buy) everything, but settled for the single-origin espresso, the Baroida Estate, a naturally-processed coffee from Papua New Guinea, served in a beautiful, handleless cup with a glass of water on the side, all presented on a neat wooden tray. It was a lovely, well-rounded, well-balanced espresso that was both smooth and complex. I paired this with a sticky bun which was served warm. Lovely, chewy and sweet, but neither sickly nor too sticky, it’s the best sticky bun I’ve had in a very long time.
Before I leaving, I had a quick roastery tour. The roasters, which you can see through the window, occupy the space directly behind the Coffee Room, while off to the right is the green bean store and a production/packing area for the roasted beans. There are also offices upstairs at the front and a large loading bay to the right. Amazingly, the ceiling is even higher back here!
CoRo has a Probat roaster and three Loring roasters, plus a much smaller sample roaster, all of which are in use seven days a week. Many of the 40+ roasters who use CoRo’s facilities have regular slots, while others roast as-and-when in the free slots.
Naturally, I couldn’t leave without buying some coffee. I wanted to try everything, but limited myself to two bags, one of the Baroida Estate (which ended up as a gift for Tuesday Coffee + Shoppe in Marietta, Georgia) and an Indian single-origin which Amanda and I enjoyed. In return, I left a gift, a bag of Horsham Coffee Roaster’s Nestor Lasso, a naturally-processed coffee from Colombia, which I’d bought at Krema Coffee before setting off for California.
|2324 FIFTH STREET • BERKELEY • CA 94710 • USA|
|www.corocoffeeroom.com||+1 510 542 2543|
|Monday||08:00 – 15:00||Roaster||CoRo + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Bar; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 15:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 15:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 15:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||08:00 – 15:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||28th July 2022|
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