For those of you who know, it’s the end of Ramadan, and Empresso Coffeehouse on the Miracle Mile has closed. And let me tell you, after not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, the first thing I run for after dinner is not dessert—it’s coffee. Naturally, hearing the news about Empresso closing down was devastating for so many Stockton locals, including myself. Their theater held the first show I ever attended. It was the location of the high school film festival I put together and where I spent many days studying for midterms and finals. It was also where I occasionally drove to after iftar (the dinner that breaks my sunrise-to-sunset fast) to get my fix of coffee. Since the closure of the iconic theater-turned-coffeehouse, I made this list of other Stockton favorites with enjoyable atmospheres to help feed your coffee habit.
1. Empresso (say what?!)
For starters: Empresso Coffeehouse! Believe it or not, I didn’t know they had a second location until my sister told me she walked from class (at Delta College) to Empresso. I thought holy sh*t you walked in the heat all the way down there for some coffee?! But in fact, they have a newly opened location in College Square, just a short drive or bike ride from their previous location on the Miracle Mile.
The ambiance of this location is much different than the recently-closed Empresso. The walls include large wall-to-wall windows that wrap around the building, inviting the sunlight to come in and sip some brew. Their location may have changed, but their coffee hasn’t. Their most popular drinks right now are the iced caramella and iced cold-brewed coffee, although my personal favorite will always be their chai latte (I’ve literally never had a better chai latte than theirs). Out of the tea selections, the jasmine tea is the most favored. But let’s not forget Cinnamonday! Empresso offers a free cinnamon roll to customers when they purchase a drink on Mondays. However, time is of the essence because they typically run out by noon.
They’re open everyday from 6am until midnight in College Square.
2. Trail Coffee Roasters (aka “The Alley”)
Ah, the Trail… You really do feel as though you’re following a trail down an alley to get there (probably because of all the signs along the way). This family-owned roaster originally started off as a pop-up. Now they are located on Miner Ave, and are roasting everyday!
Current popular drinks are the cold brew coffee and lavender latte. If you’re into tea, I personally recommend their peppermint and orange blend on ice. This drink is perfect for hot summer days, because the peppermint naturally cools your body down. Their teas are purchased from Green’s Nutrition on Pacific Ave, and the blends are hand-crafted by the owners. To top it off, all of their goodies are made in-house! Everyday there is a different flavored scone available. Even their simple syrups are homemade. After two and a half years at their Miner Ave’s location, this roaster is looking to move to a bigger location with plenty of outlets to accommodate students off California and Main Sts. this upcoming fall.
3. Blackwater Delicatessen
Yup, it’s open again! The die-hard Blackwater is now a deli/cafe, thanks to the new owners, Patrick Salisbury and Gina Hornibrook; they have cleaned up Blackwater and given it a new look that still holds much nostalgia. Once you walk in, you’re embraced by a savory, flavorful aroma that hovers the room. The balsamic chicken sandwich is favored among many, including myself! The sunrise wrap and breakfast sandwiches are also hits.
The coffee is absolutely delicious. Want something iced? Don’t worry about it getting watered-down—Blackwater’s cubes are made of coffee! This place is mad cute and has such a great vibe. From the local art covering the walls, to the delicious food and coffee being served, it’s absolutely worth visiting. Like the past incarnations of Blackwater, Monday nights feature live jazz. Patrick and Gina aren’t stopping there, though. They have big things planned for Blackwater, so stay updated!
Check them out around 7am-3pm on weekdays, and 8am-3pm on weekends, at 912 N Yosemite St.
4. Freedom Coffee
After talking to the owner, Darrell Griffin, it seems Freedom Coffee was inspired by his own freedom: the freedom of purchasing coffee. His love for coffee motivated this notable local business in Downtown Stockton. This cafe has a slick, clean charm to it that perfectly balances comfort. The sunlight peeking through the windows brings in just the right amount of warmth.
If you stop by, pick up a book from their bookshelf and enjoy the cool (or hot!) taste of Freedom. Their caramel vanilla latte is—without a doubt—exquisite and flavorful! They’ve also got a mint green tea that’s so good you’ll want another, and there are plenty of treats to pair it with. It’s open from 7am-1pm on weekdays only, making it ideal for those of you working downtown.
Check it out next time you get a morning thirst for caffeine at 22 N San Joaquin St. See you tomorrow. ;)
5. Toot Sweets
Just as the name suggests, this sweet, simple Stockton treasure has it all—coffee, wifi, food, gifts, and plenty of desserts. This bakery and cafe has been around for 28 years, and their carmelitas with a black coffee have never gotten old. Toot Sweets also has the most adorable small cakes! They serve one called “Just Like It,” which is meant to be like a Ho-Ho cake, as well as a mouth-watering strawberry shortcake. Though they don’t stop at desserts; Toot Sweets has a large menu of savory foods to order.
It’s truly a one-stop sweet spot, so check it out at 4755 Quail Lakes Dr.
It’s open from 6:30am-5:30pm during the weekdays, and 7am-4pm on weekends.
6. La Boulangerie
The La Boulangerie has been around for over 30 years, and it’s a cafe that holds many of my childhood memories. My father and his friends played cards here day and night. I’m able to recall being overjoyed when he would take me with him, because I knew it meant I was going to eat one of their soft, flakey croissants and get a chocolate milk. Nowadays, I still go in and snag that warm croissant with melted swiss, but I’ll pair it with a nice tall glass of black tea or coffee instead. Their outside seating is covered in string lights and embraced by jasmine bushes that make it a perfect place to meet up with friends or enjoy a book with a breeze.
Located at 2324 Grand Canal Blvd # 1, they are open 6am-4pm everyday.
All photos are taken and provided by Dana Al-Hindi