Discover the TOP 5 Santa Barbara coffee shops! These cafes serve excellent espresso, cold brew, pastries, avocado toast, and more in a welcoming atmosphere.
Santa Barbara…wow! It exceeded expectations by a long shot. Though, I didn’t know what to expect since I'd heard very little about this sunny SoCal destination. It seems to fly under the radar as most tourists flock to places like Napa, L.A., San Francisco, and San Diego instead.
After having two friends recently return from Santa Barbara and absolutely rave about it, Jake and I decided it was high time we finally added this destination to our summer travels.
We absolutely fell in love with the city. We were welcomed with your typical SoCal weather…70s and sunny. The locals were beyond friends and very laid back. The food was fantastic, the neighboring wine regions felt like Napa Valley back in the 50s, and the coffee scene was on point.
Whether you’re visiting Santa Barbara for the first time or live here (lucky you), don’t waste your time at Starbucks for your caffeine fix. These Santa Barbara coffee shops serve excellent brews and scrumptious pastries and snacks. All with a smile.
Let's dive into the TOP 5 coffee shops in Santa Barbara, CA!
1. Handlebar Coffee Roasters
One of the best Santa Barbara coffee shops for a local vibe and consistent quality
Handlebar Coffee Roasters immediately became one of my favorite Santa Barbara coffee shops. Hands down the best flat white during my trip…latte art and all. The vibe was also very SoCal. The place was packed with locals in the SoCal uniform…t-shirts and flip flops.
It’s also a favorite spot for cyclists. Every time I visited there was a group of road bikers enjoying a post ride coffee break. Not surprising when you make the connection between the name of the café and a bicycle handlebar.
The owners of Handlebar Coffee Roasters are former professional cyclists who met while racing around the globe. A passion for coffee was developed after spending years soaking in the café culture around the globe. Their goal with Handlebar Coffee Roasters, a micro-roaster, “is to provide an extraordinary coffee experience that’s environmentally conscientious and undeniably delicious”.
This Santa Barbara coffee shop ticked all the boxes. Quality brews, a friendly crowd and welcoming atmosphere, and amazing pastries. Baked goods and other items are sourced from local shops including Renaud’s Patisserie, I.V Bagel Café, and Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolates for their hot chocolate and mocha drinks.
You can visit Handlebar Coffee roasters at two locations. The E Canon Perdido location is perfectly situated for those wandering downtown Santa Barbara. It’s just 2 blocks left of Street (where all the action is). It feels a touch off the beaten path without being out of the way.
The second location on De La Vina Street is a 7-minute drive north, again, just two blocks from State Street.
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2. Caje Coffee
One of the best Santa Barbara coffee shops for Instagrammable drinks and backdrops
If you’re looking for an Instaworthy Santa Barbara coffee shop, Caje Coffee is it! The patio at the State Street location is beyond adorable. A place I could easily make an excuse to visit every day. It feels like an intimate Spanish courtyard.
The coffee cocktails are like nothing you’ve seen before. Each drink is crafted with care and is almost too beautiful to drink. The price reflects this at about $9 to $12 a drink…but hey…it’s worth the splurge here and there.
The Jupiter Forest, Bela Rose, and Burnout seem to be the most popular coffee cocktails…and the most photographic.
The Jupiter Forest is an iced oat milk latte made with cold brew, juniper berry, sage syrup infused with grapefruit and garnished with grapefruit peel, golden flower, and sage. ⠀
An excellent (and sweet) coffee alternative is the Bela Rose. An iced matcha latte made with strawberry-elderflower syrup, and grenadine. Garnished with crushed rose petals cascading down the side of the glass and topped with beetroot powder and a fresh strawberry.
The Burnout is served up, made with espresso, milk, bourbon pecan syrup, activated charcoal, garnished with ginger salt, candied ginger, and a fresh blackberry.⠀⠀
Don’t feel like shelling out double digits for a fancy coffee? The regular stuff; flat white, americano, latte, etc., are all excellent.
Caje Coffee seems to be a popular place to work or study. Spread out at one of the big tables or hideaway in a cozy corner. ⠀
There are several locations in downtown Santa Barbara. Visit the one at 1316 State Street for the best patio and atmosphere.
3. Dart Coffee Co.
One of the best coffee shops in Santa Barbara with a killer patio
Another Santa Barbara coffee shop I could easily see myself visiting multiple times a week is Dart Coffee Co. The garden space is probably one of the best coffee shop patios I’ve ever seen.
Order a lavender latte or nitro cold brew and cross the street to Dart’s garden oasis. It’s a great place to chill for a moment and enjoy a little slice of nature in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara.
Try an empanada while you’re there. They’re made by Buena Onda and are extremely popular.
4. Dune Coffee
One of the best Santa Barbara coffee shops for unique flavors that rotate
Everything at Dune Coffee Roasters is done well. Iced americanos, matcha lattes, pastries, pour overs, and nitro cold brew…you really can’t go wrong. The avocado toast made on homemade sourdough makes for the perfect snack (gluten-free toast is also available) and the breakfast sandwich is scrumptious. The croissants are especially good here.
Dune Coffee offers unique flavor combinations that change with the season. A few examples include orange cardamon latte, heat latte made with habanero chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, horchata latte, and espresso or matcha tonic (their tonic is made in-house).
Wander around the Spanish-styled courthouse, climb to the top and enjoy views of downtown Santa Barbara, and then visit Dune Coffee's State Street location. It’s just a block away.
The Anacapa location seems to be the most popular with a spacious interior, laidback patio, and easy parking. This is a great option if you want to work or study for a bit.
5. Lighthouse Coffee
One of the best Santa Barbara coffee shops for avocado toast and café fare
Lighthouse Coffee makes for the perfect stop if you’re biking or driving east of downtown Santa Barbara. The food here is what really shines. This was the best (and heartiest) avocado toasts we had during the trip. The acai bowls, salmon lox, cucumber toast, and giant breakfast sandwich are other popular items.
Lighthouse Coffee brings a local crowd since it’s just outside of the “tourist zone”. It seems to be a regular spot for students and digital nomads.
There are plenty of tables if you want to stay and work, fast WiFi, and a little side patio. Parking is also very convenient as it’s located in a little shopping area.
I hope this list of the best coffee shops in Santa Barbara steers you in the right direction on where to find your morning latte and croissant. These were my absolute favorite spots and I’ll be sure to revisit each one next time I’m in town.
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