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Café Culture

Frazzled Mom, sci-fi fanatic, or cat lover? Try these new specialized coffee shops for your next caffeine fix.


Shelby Oliver Photography



Parents who have found themselves next to a sticky plastic slide at an indoor play area—mentally calculating the hours until their children come down with the flu—will welcome Small Talk Family Café. Intended for children ages six and under, this indoor playground features eco-toys and equipment cleaned with nontoxic products, as well as a dedicated baby area, parent resources, and free wi-fi.

Let your children play while you nibble from the nut-free café menu of fair-trade, organic, and locally roasted espresso drinks, plus snacks, sandwiches, soups, salads, and kid plates. Parent education, birthday parties, and kids’ classes are also available.

1536 Newell Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 954-7468, smalltalkfamilycafe.com.

Kristen Haney


If you prefer your coffee with a side of geek, set course to the new Scarlet City Espresso Bar, a sci-fi–themed spot in Emeryville that opened in August. The slick café goes where no East Bay coffee shop has gone before, with toy spaceships dangling from the ceiling, pop culture pinball machines, and a red Star Trek–inspired counter. Swing by for a cup of the popular Warp Drive espresso blend, or stop in for a board game and a beer: Scarlet City received its beer license and is slated to sell cold ones soon.

3960 Adeline St., Emeryville, (510) 836-3920, scarletcityroasting.com.



Narrowly beating both Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco for bragging rights as the first permanent coffee-and-kitty venture in the country, Cat Town Café is set to open in Uptown Oakland on October 25. The plan is for Cat Town to feature a self-contained café area, with coffee from Bicycle Coffee Company and a locally sourced menu of light bites. In a separate Cat Zone, adoptable felines play on structures modeled after the downtown Oakland skyline and lounge on beds inspired by the Port of Oakland’s cranes. Step inside the zone, feed your new friends dehydrated treats, and leave with a cat of your own.

2869 Broadway, Oakland, cattowncafe.com.

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