We first encountered Verve at Slow Food Nation ’08 (SFN), where they contributed beans, baristas, and other support for the event. Originally, they had planned to open this café and roastery in Berkeley. However, one of the owners moved to Santa Cruz and the rest was history.

The “joke” from some of the Verve baristas at SFN was that Verve opened so a few surfers could make a living between riding waves. However, upon visiting their café and roastery, it’s quite clear that making good coffee here was never a secondary afterthought.

Street entrance to Verve Coffee Roasters Entrance to Verve Coffee Roasters' roast house next door

Across one of the requisite surf shops in town, Verve operates a Probat-powered small roastery across an alleyway with café tables from their spacious, clean café. Jazz is a big theme: both owners are jazz lovers, organ players, and they name roasts after jazz albums. There’s a bit of classy art with wallpaper and jazz music playing throughout. Inside there are tall ceilings and tall, bright windows surrounding several casual tables.

Inside Verve Coffee Roasters Some window seating at Verve Coffee Roasters

Verve Coffee Roasters' Probat We’ve also noticed how much we’ve been spoiled by fresh roasted retail coffee. Verve will roast date the coffee you buy retail by writing it on the package. But it is not uncommon for them to sell roasts up to a week old: we bought some of their Streetlevel blend for home use, and it was roasted five days prior. Even so (a whole week? sacrilege!), they’ve set the bar for Santa Cruz.

Using a two-group La Marzocco GB/5, they pulled a shot of espresso using their Sermon blend (named after the Jimmy Smith album): a mixture of Brazilian, Sumatran, and dry-processed Ethiopian. The resulting shot had a thinner layer of dark brown crema in that reminded us of that thin-but-near-black crema popularized by the likes of Intelligentsia.

They serve a doppio ristretto by default, and the shot is still quite short in its black ACF cup. There’s some potent, syrup-like sweetness at bottom of cup, but it’s characterized mostly by a pungent intensity in a concentrated, short shot. The baristas here carefully try and retry to get it right, and it shows.

Read the review of Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, CA.

Working the tamper behind Verve's La Marzocco GB/5 The Verve Coffee Roasters espresso