The best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland 

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two students hanging out in coffee shops.

The best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland

The universal concept of coffee being a survival juice is evident in the university scene. We see the likes of Northwestern, UPenn, and John Hopkins having rich coffee-drinking cultures. It’s of no surprise that the lovely towns of Berkeley and Oakland in California have also picked the idea of coming up with places that offer this caffeinated drink. So, what are the best coffee shops in Berkeley and England?

Both cities are homes to a large number of locally owned cafes, many of which provide a serene setting. Customers can get some work done, read a book, or meet up with friends for a short while.

We have already written about what the social scene is like at Berkeley; if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. In this article, we’d like to answer the most pressing question, “What are some of the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland?” If you’ll indulge us, we’d like to share some of our top favorites, a combination of both Berkeley’s and Oakland’s best café finds.

Two students working on a table.

We classified the 17 locations on our list into three distinct categories: study, work, and outdoor (our current favorite).

Why Are Coffee Shops So Popular Among Students?

You’ve probably noticed it, haven’t you? The thrum of activity, the soft hum of conversations, and the rhythmic tapping of laptop keys. It’s no secret that the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland have become the unofficial study halls for students. But why? Well, it’s not just about the caffeine kick (though let’s be honest, that’s a big part of it).

It’s about the ambiance, the sense of community, and the subtle motivation that comes from being surrounded by other focused individuals. When you walk into one of these coffee havens, you’re not just entering a place to grab a drink; you’re stepping into a realm where academic dreams are brewed alongside that perfect cup of joe.

The Rise of Café Culture and its significance in student life

Imagine, for a moment, the streets of Berkeley and Oakland a decade ago. The café culture was just beginning to percolate, and now? It’s an explosion of flavors, aromas, and experiences.

The best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland have become more than just places to get your caffeine fix. They’re cultural hubs, places where art, music, and intellect intertwine.

For students, these spaces offer a respite from the monotony of lecture halls. They’re places where you can engage in passionate debates, share ideas, or simply soak in the vibrant energy of the city. The rise of café culture signifies a shift in how students interact, learn, and grow outside the confines of traditional educational settings.

Coffee shops as a third space

Ever heard of the term “third space”? No, it’s not some sci-fi concept. It’s the idea that there’s a space that exists between home and work (or, in your case, school). The best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland have seamlessly filled this role.

They’re not just establishments; they’re sanctuaries. Places where you can escape the pressures of deadlines, yet still remain productive. A spot where you can meet friends, or simply enjoy some solitude with your thoughts and a warm mug in hand. These coffee shops provide a unique blend of comfort and motivation, making them the ideal third space for students like you.

What are the best coffee shops to study in Berkeley and Oakland?

Where may one find the most conducive environments to learning in Berkeley and Oakland? Where else outside a library can you go that is pretty peaceful, has a lot of coffee, and has an ambiance that is a little bit more upbeat? You got it right, coffee shops. And while we’re on the topic of studying, you might also want to read Study Tips for the Final Exam.

Group of students talking in a coffee shop.

You should check out one of these neighborhood cafes that is great for studying.


Beanery is a cafe that is well worth the trip down College Avenue, whether it be on foot or through the 51B bus, despite the fact that it is not located as near to the current campuses.

They offer a wide variety of coffee drinks and teas, and the rear patio is brimming with magnificent plants. So you can relax, review your notes, and enjoy your beverage of choice while admiring the scenery.

Cafe Milano

Milano is ideal for those chilly, slow-paced weekdays when you may use a warm dinner that is also reasonably priced. This well-known Berkeley coffee shop is located directly on Bancroft, directly across the street from Sproul, and provides a comfortable and inviting setting for studying.

A local favorite in Berkeley, Milano is known for its comfortable indoor seating as well as its straightforward but delicious menu, which includes hot sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries, and of course, teas, and coffees.

Common Grounds

This eatery is in reality an expansion of the Peet’s Coffee & Tea that is found on the highest floor of the Dwinelle building. However, it is included on the list because it provides a study place that is so peaceful.

Common Grounds is an excellent spot for hour-break cram sessions and meal point coffee because it features little tables that look out over the stunning labyrinth that is Dwinelle.

Lindgren’s Coffee & Cafe

This location is perfect for anyone who is in need of some time to themselves and has the desire to be alone (if this is not studying to you, we don’t know what is). Breakfast at Lindgren’s Coffee & Cafe consists of robust options like omelets and burritos, and lunch features filling options like sandwiches and wraps.

A satisfying and rewarding treat can be achieved by combining them with any of their organic coffees or teas. While you take in the tranquil ambiance of Lindgren’s, the traditional paintings that line the walls give an intimate backdrop for your viewing pleasure.

Sack’s Coffee House

Sack’s is one of the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland that has a nicely furnished, spacious, indoor cafe that provides a range of gourmet bagels and hand-crafted espresso drinks. It is located just a few blocks along College Avenue.

This coffee shop will entice you away from the library so that you can relax with your laptop on one of the bags of coffee beans that line the walls of the establishment.

What are the best coffee shops to work in Berkeley and Oakland?

Where might one find the most productive places to work in Berkeley and Oakland? The East Bay is home to a large number of fantastic coffee shops, but a surprising proportion of them do not provide customers with access to wifi.

Group of students talking and eating on a table.

It’s easy to see why some of the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland do not want their establishment to be used as a de facto coworking place. But there are times when you find yourself in a bind and you need a place that can provide you with decent food and drinks in addition to free internet access as soon as possible.

When it comes to recommending these locations, we are definitely sure that they have sufficient numbers of operational outlets as well as high-quality internet connectivity.

1951 Coffee Company

As soon as you step into the 1951 Coffee Company, it is instantly apparent that it is a highly distinctive coffee shop. Educational charts cover the walls of the establishment, making this readily apparent.

The place is actually a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness about refugee concerns in the larger community while also providing job training and employment opportunities to refugees and asylees; some of its former baristas have gone on to work for major Bay Area coffee firms.

Aside from the café’s commitment to social causes, the cherry on top is that 1951 produces a tasty cup of coffee.

Algorithm Coffee Co.

When you go to Algorithm Coffe Co., don’t ask for a latte, cappuccino, or cortado; instead, ask for an espresso with milk served by size. Because the menu has been pared down and streamlined, you will receive a portion that has been determined to be optimum by the coffee-obsessed staff at Algorithm.

However, if you are interested in customization, you will not be able to take advantage of this option. Regardless, the espresso made in tiny batches and from a single origin is delicious, and there is a large number of seating options. For those reasons, Algorithm is one of the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland to work.

Cafe Blue Door

This cafe in Bancroft features comfortable sitting both inside and out, in addition to a varied selection of beverages and dishes to eat.

Because there are several outlets for extended hours of studying as well as wide tables for spreading out work materials, Cafe Blue Door has become a prominent location for academic pursuits in Berkeley.

Philz Coffee

The first Philz location in the East Bay adheres to the philosophy of the San Francisco-based company, which was founded on the principle of making each cup of coffee individually and according to the specific tastes of the individual customer.

There is a compelling reason why each person can vividly recall the first time they tried Philz’ mint mojito iced coffee. In addition to its site in Shattuck, Philz may also be found in Rockridge (6310 College Avenue in Oakland) and West Berkeley (1313 9th Street).

What coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland offer outdoor seating?

Which best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland have outside seating, and where can I find it? In California, the land of perpetual sunshine, it would be a terrible waste if restaurants did not provide the option of dining outside in the fresh air. This kind of dining experience can be found at the majority of restaurants if not all of them.

Multiracial students talking in a long table.

In recent years, there has been a shift toward a higher level of respect for sitting outside. There has been a recent uptick in the number of folks who want to have their coffee while sitting outside. This is being done not only for reasons related to the skin but also to reduce the likelihood of becoming infected with COVID-19.

Caffè Strada

Caffe Strada, which is situated directly across the street from Boalt Law School, exudes an air of earthiness because of the abundance of trees and plants that surround the outside dining area.

The café is the ideal location for unwinding and concentrating because it comes complete with a mouthwatering pastry and a piping hot cup of coffee. Stop by Caffe Strada whether you’re looking for a place to grab a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or a late-night gathering location.

Cafenated Coffee Company

This farm-to-cup coffee roasting company was also recommended by the travel blog Brooksy as one of the best coffee shops in Berkeley with outdoor seating.

Cafenated Coffee Company guarantees its customers a great, hand-roasted cup of joe while also contributing to a worthy cause. The company obtains its green beans directly from well-established women’s coffee farm cooperatives in Central America.

In addition, the large patio area has the potential to function as a nursery due to the presence of verdure-covered walls, colorful potted plants, and endearing light fixtures suspended from the ceiling.

There is also an abundance of seating arrangements, space heaters, and a fire pit for use on cooler days. Did we mention that when the fog begins to lift, this will transform into a breathtaking outdoor space? If this is not a perfect setup for soaking up some of the vitamin D-rich sunshine, we don’t know what will.

Equator Coffees & Teas

The one and only location of Equator Coffees & Teas in the East Bay is actually a shipping container situated close to Lake Merritt. Having said that, there is some pleasant outdoor seating that is enlivened with succulents, in addition to wifi.

This café offers a standard selection of coffees and teas, in addition to canned beer, wine, and ice cream in addition to its usual coffee and tea selection.

Yali’s Café

In our list of best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland, this by far offers the best sunset views.  This campus location of Yali’s Cafe makes for a relaxing study spot, especially around sunset because it faces the enchanting Hearst Mining Circle from Stanley Hall. The location is ideal for students.

The café has seating available both inside and outside, and they serve delectable baked goods and coffee drinks like their signature “Red Eye,” which is a combination of espresso and coffee that is sure to help you concentrate on that paper.

How Can Students Make the Most of Their Coffee Shop Visits?

You’ve found it—the perfect nook in one of the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland. The aroma of freshly ground beans fills the air, and the ambient chatter creates a comforting backdrop.

But how do you ensure that this visit is more than just a caffeine fix? How do you transform this outing into a productive venture? The key lies in intentionality. Before you even step into the café, have a clear goal.

Whether it’s to finish a chapter, write an essay, or brainstorm for a project, knowing your purpose will set the tone for your visit. And remember, while these spaces are inviting, they’re also shared. So, be considerate, be efficient, and be ready to make the most of your time.

Tips for productive study sessions

Diving into your studies at the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland can be a delightful experience, but it requires a bit of strategy.

First, choose your timing wisely. Early mornings or late afternoons might offer quieter atmospheres. Next, pack smart. Bring headphones, chargers, and any essential study materials. Consider using productivity techniques like the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5-minute break. This not only boosts efficiency but also gives you a chance to savor your drink and soak in the ambiance.

And don’t forget to hydrate! While coffee is a delightful companion, water is essential to keep your brain sharp.


Navigating the unspoken rules of coffee shop decorum is crucial. Remember, the best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland are communal spaces. Always order something—even if it’s just a small coffee or pastry—to support the business.

If the café is crowded, avoid occupying large tables. Keep your belongings contained and never leave them unattended. Be mindful of your noise level, especially during calls or video chats. And if you’re planning a long stay, consider buying another drink or snack as a courtesy.

Building connections

Beyond the books and brews, coffee shops are hubs of connection. The best coffee shops in Berkeley and Oakland are teeming with potential friendships, collaborations, and networks. Strike up a conversation with the barista—they often have the best recommendations for both drinks and local happenings.

Attend events or workshops hosted by the café. Engage with fellow patrons; you never know who might share a class, interest, or opportunity with you. Embrace the communal spirit, and you’ll find that these spaces offer much more than just caffeine—they offer the community.

Segue to AdmissionSight

Do you ever daydream of being among those people who are working or studying at Berkeley or any of the rich college towns in the country? Building a relationship with AdmissionSight as a potential partner would mean 1 step closer to your dream.

AdmissionSight is the most highly regarded college admissions consultant in the industry, and we have more than a decade of experience assisting individuals just like you in getting acceptance into the most prestigious educational institutions of their choosing.

Please get in touch with us as soon as possible to organize a no-cost consultation at your earliest convenience.



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