From Vienna to Paris and from New York to Seattle, coffee houses hold a significant cultural and social influence over our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s a steaming latte on a cold day or a triple-shot frappuccino during finals week, coffee stirs that little something extra into your day. This week, On the Menu will head to local coffee shops to bring you the ultimate blends and brews that will surely ease the calamity of another academic year.

Gettin’ the Mojo Back

Mojo Coffee
7127 Hollister Ave.
(805) 571-7070
Price: Under $10

Nestled in the bustling Camino Real Marketplace, Mojo Coffee provides a much-needed haven for students and local community members looking for tranquility and refreshment. The quaint coffee shop is aesthetically welcoming, with a warm and casual ambiance emanating from the large patio deck and well-decorated interior.

Evan Myrich, a Mojo Coffee barista, explained that the décor, much like many other nuances in the business, is neighborhood-oriented and influenced.

“[Mojo Coffee] has local art and photographs from customers who come in,” Myrich said.

A weathered chess table and book-exchange shelf is a testament to the local traffic that frequents Mojo Coffee, with customers stopping in to play a friendly game or to partake in bartering for literature.

Chris Martin, the owner of the independent establishment, who was voraciously decorating the café with Halloween paraphernalia, was vivacious and excited in detailing his business.

While Martin stated that the chai tea latte is the most popular menu item, he swore by his own coffee creation: the Black and White Mocha.

“I came up with the idea of a Black and White Mocha and drink them iced,” Martin said. “I’ve been drinking them for the past four years,” he added half-jokingly.

Martin observed that his most frequently visiting clientele groups are local community members, businesspersons and students.

“It’s a neat little spot for people to get away,” Martin said. “It’s just another choice and option. … We offer free Internet, so we’re a little more student-friendly than other places. It’s a diamond in the rough.”

At Mojo, whole bean coffee goes for $13 per pound, while individual drinks such as the signature Mojo Royale Hazelnut Latte, café au lait and blended chai latte are priced under $4 for a single, double or triple shot of espresso.

An off-menu selection is also posted covertly by the cashier counter and includes items such as the Black and White Mocha, sparkling apple and sparkling orange juice and an orange julius – among other options.

Unlike the great majority of coffee shops in the area, Mojo Coffee is open late to accommodate local students. To enjoy the neighborhood-friendly atmosphere while sipping on a tasty beverage, go get your mojo back Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Temperance is a Virtue

Vices & Spices From Around the World
3558 State St.
(805) 687-7196
Price: Under $10

Proving to be a bold juxtaposition to the placid atmosphere of upper State Street, the interior of Vices & Spices is bursting with an eclectic blend of the aromas, coffee beans, teas and trinkets. In addition to being a traditional coffee shop, according to owner Blue Booth, Vices & Spices intends to be a one-stop shop for a patron looking to pick up anything from birthday cards to cardamom.

“The name of our store ties into the idea to have coffee, tea, spices and gifts from all around the world,” Booth said.

Booth said that the most popular drink items tend to be teas or lattes.

“I’d say in drinks we do a lot of teas, both iced and hot. We also do a lot of espresso beverages like lattes,” Booth said.

According to Booth, the coffee carried within the store originates from around the globe.

“Our coffee comes from all over the world; it’s grown in the tropical latitudes at high elevation,” he detailed.

As for the regular customers, Booth found that around 90 percent of his patrons are local Santa Barbara residents with only a few visitors trickling in occasionally.

This is certainly no wonder, considering Vices & Spices has been in business since 1975 and is Santa Barbara’s oldest family-owned, independent coffee establishment.

As for his favorite beverage, Booth recommended a coconut puchong tea with a splash of vanilla.

Exotic and light, the drink had a wonderful scent and was refreshing to the palate.

Coffee and teas can be sold in bulk or prepared as a drink by a barista. Decaffeinated, flavored and decaf coffee beans can be purchased by the pound for $12 to $16.

By-the-cup drinks are also available, with the coffee of the day, blended mocha, hot chocolate, hot teas and a wide array of other beverages all offered for under $4.

Spices such as cloves, sea salt, cardamom, Moroccan rose buds and plenty of other fragrant herbs are also available for purchase.

For a less than virtuous visit, stop by Vices & Spices, open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Coffee Cat
1201 Anacapa St.
(805) 962-7164
Price: Under $10

Avant-garde and modern exterior architecture greet a mixture of students and community members while the cool, jazzy internal atmosphere of Coffee Cat invites patrons to sip on an assortment of beverages or enjoy more substantial food options.

Jason Womack and Krista Fritzen, husband and wife and co-owners of the independently owned café, bought the shop in December of 2003.

According to Womack, Coffee Cat regulars are a mixture of individuals from various parts of town.

“There’s a mixture of county and city employees that come in, as well as attorneys from the surrounding area. We also have free wireless so the student population is fairly large,” Womack said.

Coffee Cat is extremely environmentally friendly, serves organic as well as fair trade coffee and strives to reduce its production wastes.

“[The fact that] all of our coffee is organic and fair trade is something we pride ourselves on because as far as I know, we’re the only coffee house in the Santa Barbara area that is both,” said Womack.

Through Santa Barbara City programs, Coffee Cat is also involved in a compost and waste reduction plan.

“We’re part of a program through Santa Barbara where [the city] supplies us with biodegradable trash bags,” Womack said. “We also try to compost as much as we can, which is a lot more then most people think: coffee filters, the java jackets, stir sticks, tea bags… they can all be composted. We’re part of a handful of places that are doing it.”

The most requested drink item and Womack’s own favorite is the Cappuccino Ultimo, which he described as a triple medium cappuccino. The beverage runs for about $3.50.

Other drinks such as the blended mocha go for $3.80, while a medium cup of coffee is $1.85 and hot teas are $1.95, which will soon be offered both by the cup and in by the pot.

Coffee beans, such as medium, dark and sumatran roasts, can also be purchased in bulk and are around $11 per pound.

As far as food goes, the charming café offers two distinct soups everyday, various sandwiches and the ever-popular crepes.

Swing by Coffee Cat to enjoy a calm ambiance and delicious offerings Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With the monotony of classes claiming our attention and sanity, everyone can benefit from the powerful kick of a joe. Snuggle in to a cozy café with your favorite blend, and let your inner barista guide you on your journey to caffeinated complacency.