The Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley

Coffee is central to the lives of students, working professionals, and hipsters alike. Whether you’re looking to fuel up for a day of work or relax and catch up with a friend, a cup of coffee is great company no matter what your agenda looks like. Berkeley, being a city full of college students and young self-starters, is the perfect place to explore with a great caffeinated beverage. I’m going to break down my favorite coffee shops on and around campus, and encourage you to use this as a mini coffee guide for the Berkeley area!

  1. Caffe Strada

As someone who lives in the Southside/Greek Row neighborhood, Caffe Strada is conveniently located right on my daily walk to campus. Although I am personally not a fan of their espresso (it’s too bitter for my taste), their ambiance is unmatched. Ample patio seating is always teeming with students and faculty, and I have spent an embarrassingly large amount of time here instead of on campus. Everyone knows the name “Strada” around here! It’s less about the coffee and more about the experience.

2. Yali’s Qualcomm/Micro-Yali’s

Situated in between multiple engineering buildings with a satellite location in my favorite lecture hall, Yali’s is another local coffee company with a tight hold on many students’ lives (and wallets!). The coffee here is usually pretty good and I’m usually able to find a seat inside the cafe. A side note- although their food is expensive, their bagel sandwiches are DIVINE. I usually only grab one when I forgot to pack food and will be on campus all day or as a treat after a particularly hard midterm, but I savor every bite.

3. Brewed Awakening

This is my absolute favorite spot in Berkeley. Although the trek to Northside is long and arduous sometimes, I promise you it’s worth it. Northside in general is my favorite neighborhood near campus – it’s quiet, serene and feels a little less like a city. Brewed awakening’s long tables and wooden chairs make the cafe feel so homey, and the coffee is GOOD. I basically live here during midterms and finals season because the libraries and southside cafes get so crowded.

4.  Cafe Milano

Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Milano’s coffee either, but their proximity to campus and inside ambiance (very lived-in vibes) keep me coming back. A bonus is that I almost always see someone I know whenever I’m there, which helps make Berkeley feel a little smaller. Bonus points because it was the first cafe I visited in the city when I came to campus with my parents for the first time!

Author: Emily Conway

Hello! My name is Emily and I am a Molecular & Cell Biology student, graduating in Spring 2023. I love Berkeley and became a campus ambassador to share my passion to prospective students the same way that my tour guides did for me. In my free time, you can find me doing all things creative - from drawing and painting to embroidery, 3D modeling, and digital art!