Photo by Alexander Payne.

Alexander Payne / Daily Nexus

We know that you don’t just want the jittery boost that comes from your frappuccino. We know that you can’t get enough extra shots. We know why you dig PSLs and Trentas with two pumps of sugar. We also know that while Starbucks is an easy pit-stop on the walk to campus, it’s not every coffee drinker’s first preference for coffee, or even atmosphere.

So then you have cool vibes from Cajé, good tea and better coffee, mate for cheap, free Wi-Fi and consistently chill tunes to tune out while reading Joyce or diagramming molecular struggles. Coffee Collab is the grungier version, but it occupies that soft spot in the heart for seeming less pretentious. There’s Equilibrium, and even Nicoletti’s offers a couple of pleather arm chairs and a view of the lagoon far enough away that the smell doesn’t taint your cuppa black sludge.

Let’s just get to the facts: we have taste-bud boners for coffee shops. We love dank ones as much as well-lit ones. We love indie pop hovering on the airwaves amidst coffee grinders and the hiss of milk steaming. We love pretending to enjoy coffee black until we actually get the taste for the bitterness. And no matter how much we get attached to our favorite corner chair or sunny patio table, we love to cheat on our favorite places. So if you’re ready to swing into a new coffee-shop fling, be prepared, On The Menu begins its series on coffee shop admiration with the Santa Barbara Roasting Company.
–On The Menu Editor

One of SB RoCo's baristas  carefully preparing a cup of Santa Rosa Blend pour-over coffee. Lorenzo Basilio / Daily Nexus.

One of SB RoCo’s baristas carefully preparing a cup of Santa Rosa Blend pour-over coffee. Lorenzo Basilio / Daily Nexus

Though the weather in Santa Barbara may change, one thing remains the same: Coffee is a college student’s best friend. Whether you’re studying until 3 a.m. for your midterm, meeting up with a friend or just trying to get through the day, a nice cup of joe will never let you down.

Fortunately for UCSB students, Santa Barbara provides a plethora of unique coffee shops to choose from. One of the most popular amongst students and locals is the Santa Barbara Roasting Company. Located on 321 Motor Way, about a 15-minute walk from the Transit Center, the Santa Barbara Roasting Company is always full of students and working people alike, all enjoying a cup of their favorite roast and doing work.

Dubbed the “RoCo” by regulars, the Santa Barbara Roasting Company first opened its doors in 1989, and it quickly became a local favorite. Roasting and brewing their own coffee beans gathered from Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific, the RoCo has a multitude of drinks, roasts and beans that customers can choose from.

At one corner of the store stands a huge roaster, where the beans used in RoCo drinks are roasted every day. Right next to the front register, customers can see the variety of beans, rich with a mixture of brown hues, roasting right before their eyes. On the opposite side is a brewing corner, a bar-like structure where customers can watch the barista make their coffee, choosing the kinds of beans, roast and roasting method to their liking.

“This side is more for the real coffee lovers,” Carly Talhami said, a first-year art major at Santa Barbara City College and current employee of the RoCo. “After we roast the beans in our roaster, we put them in these smaller machines to grind them, and then perform either a traditional French press or pour-over technique depending on what the customer prefers. If customers like a smoother feel and finer grind in their coffee, they usually go for the pour over method. But those who really like the bitter and coarse coffee taste will usually go with the French press method.”

French pressed mate. Lorenzo Basilio / Daily Nexus

French pressed mate. Lorenzo Basilio / Daily Nexus

The pour-over method begins with whole coffee beans. Customers can select to create a varietal with a single bean or opt for a blend. First, the barista carefully weighs out the beans before grinding them to a texture finer than sand. But before any hot water touches the fresh-ground coffee, a barista cleanses the filter, which sits in a specially designed ceramic mug with sloping sides and a hole at its base. Boiling water wicks up the coarse paper’s capillaries all the way to the edges, which removes any residual flavor. After a meticulous, slow pour, in which the barista drips tiny spirals over the moistened grounds, the resulting drink is not the average percolated pour.

Along with their regular brewed drinks, the RoCo also offers hot and cold espresso, blended and non-caffeinated drinks. Customers can include add-ons like an extra espresso shot, tea bag, flavor and so on, for a small price. In addition to their coffee-based lattes, the RoCo boasts its own riff on the rising riff on the tea latte. Coined the “Yerbalicious,” their mate latte consists of French-pressed yerba mate and steamed almond or soy milk. While the beverage pours a strange grey-green, its light and earthy palate is still a delight, even on a warm day.

A hot spot for all genuine coffee lovers (and even non-genuine ones), not only does the RoCo provide an abundance of coffee options to choose from, but also has a very relaxing and calm ambience, perfect for studying or meeting up with friends.