When the calendar rolls around to April, it means it's time for me and my cycling co-conspirator, Pamela Palma, to lead another caffeine-fueled ride! We've alternated in the past between San Francisco and the East Bay, and this year it was the latter's turn to host our adventure. Our 22-mile-ish route would make five new stops throughout Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley: Bicycle Coffee; Vines Cafe & Gallery; The CRO Cafe; Blue Bottle; Alchemy Collective. This ride would also be a benefit for Bike East Bay, the cycling organization formerly known as the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (I currently serve on the board of directors.)
Bicycle Coffee is normally closed on Sundays, but they graciously opened their shop doors for us at their Jack London Square location. Despite the light sprinkling of rain that began falling around 10AM, about 80 enthusiastic cyclists showed up at their roastery and retail shop to partake of Bicycle Coffee's delicious complimentary coffee -- single-serving, pour over cups and cold brew -- that was offered as a special treat to our group. (However, they do offer free coffee to the public on Fridays!) After Renee Rivera, the Executive Director of Bike East Bay, welcomed everyone with a brief speech about the organization, we headed out into the mist towards Alameda.
By the time we arrived at Vines Cafe & Gallery, a lovely home-now-coffeehouse next door to Thomsen's Garden Center on Lincoln Avenue, the rain had already disappeared and been replaced by the warm spring sunshine. Towards the entrance of their building, Vines Cafe sells a selection of ceramics, prints and other collectibles. As you make your way towards the back of the space, you'll find a quiet sanctuary to enjoy your coffee and pastries -- either inside or on their lovely patio that overlooks the neighboring nursery.
We took a scenic route past Shoreline Drive along the southern part of Alameda before cutting through Fruitvale to take a loop around Oakland's Lake Merritt. Then our group headed northwards on Broadway to Blue Bottle; their coffee empire continues to expand, and they've recently renovated W.C. Morse building, a former truck showroom, into an elegant cafe with an array of high-end espresso machines and other wares.
About a mile away, we dropped into The CRO Cafe's newly remodeled space in Temescal Alley. They've also extended their hours from 7am-6pm. (You can read more about owner Luigi Oldani's venture in my previous feature.)