Additional articles BY COURTNEY COCHRAN

Cool Beans

The Best Wine Country Coffee Haunts

If I tallied up all the money I’ve spent at Starbucks over the years I’m sure I’d be a bit embarrassed at the expenditure.

Consider, for example, that I’ve probably spent a sum there exceeding my total charitable donations (over my entire life, not just in the last tax year). And I’m certain that I’ve paid the haunt’s green apron-clad baristas way more than I earned during an entire hard-working summer as a waitress before I left for college.

But seen another way, I’ve earned tremendous returns on my Starbucks investments. My many sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce Lattes (hold the whip, keep the sprinkles) have fueled countless all-night paper writing missions, an ambitiously undertaken but never completed senior thesis, late-nighters at an Internet start-up after college, an entire two grueling years of graduate school, and a book.

Were it not for caffeine, none of it would have been possible.

But before I kowtow too much to the Starbucks gods, it bears noting that the ubiquitous coffee haunt isn’t the ONLY place to score some beans. In fact, true caffeine connoisseurs will tell you that it’s the off-brand spots that sell the best juice. And in wine country, it just so happens that there are way more off-brand beaneries than ‘bucks, which it turns out is just your luck.

Score the best beans in wine country
The following coffee spots can be found tucked into some Northern California’s cutest wine country towns.

Who can resist a latte from a beanery with a name like Barking Dog Roasters? Besides serving up freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, and a full roster of espresso drinks, Sonoma’s only on-site roastery plays host to live music, knitting clubs, and open mic nights. Roastmaster Greg Grabow describes the ambiance at both the original location (on West Napa St.) and the new Barking Dog (on Sonoma Hwy.) as “charming, homey, and rustic.” Grab a cup of the Caliente Blend, Greg’s most popular roast combining beans from Costa Rica, Columbia and Sumatra, and catch up on your email courtesy of both locations’ free wireless Internet access. Dog not included.
201 West Napa St ., Sonoma, CA (707) 996-7446 & 18133 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma, CA (707) 939-1905

Healdsburg & Santa Rose
Flying Goat Coffee takes its name from the goats that reputedly “discovered” coffee long ago in Ethiopia (apparently after eating the coffee plant’s red berries, which conceal the beans, the goats turned hyper, natch). With three retail locations and a growing wholesale business, Flying Goat is quickly taking off with its artisanal approach to roasting and dedicated following. The original location on the plaza in Healdsburg manages to pull off a warm vibe in spite of its industrial sheet metal cabinets and contemporary art-lined walls, and savvy surfers can often pick up the free wireless Internet signal from the adjacent plaza.
324 Center St. & 419 Center St., Healdsburg, CA & 10 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, CA (800) 675-3599

Woop, let’s give it up for Mendocino! The trendy northern California wine region is fast gaining attention for its wonderfully balanced wines, but savvy travelers still remember to score some joe before they hit the tasting trail. Not only do The Coffee Critic owners Jeff and Monica Sayad roast their own beans on-premise, they offer free wireless Internet access to patrons. Plus, the Sayads and their daughters are enthusiastic supporters of local charities, which means patrons can score their caffeine and do their part for society at the same time – which translates to the ultimate high.
476 North State St., Ukiah, CA (707) 462-6333

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