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Come for Coffee, Tea, and Gourmet Foods at Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden

By Marina I. Jokic

Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden is a small coffee shop nestled on the island of Alameda in California, offering artisanal coffees and teas, homemade breads, herbal jellies, thin crusted gourmet pizza, and medicinal plants. Owner Julie Barron enjoys the opportunity to interact with her guests not only through food and drink but also through art, social events, and horticulture.

Barron's passion for drinking tea and coffee began with her love of herbs, which in turn started in the western hills of Sonoma County in 1990. During that time, she cultivated aromatic and tonic herbs and flowers, which she sold at local farmers' markets. In 1995, Barron partnered with Taylor Maid Gardens and was consequently given the opportunity to establish the tea division of Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee & Tea. She would spend ten years working in that role.

After years of working in wholesale, Barron wanted to do something different and customer-centric. "After wholesaling coffee and tea for ten years, I yearned to have a space where I could sell my products face to face with the end user," she says. In January 2005, she opened her eponymous business, Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden, offering the freshest of coffee brews, exotic teas, and a slew of herbs and plants as well catering and space rentals for parties. They even have wine and beer as well as Mimosas.

Featuring the finest products from Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee & Tea, Julie's takes the time to prepare an espresso drink in the traditional Northern Italian way and brews your pot of tea perfectly. In their coffee offerings, you will find classics like the Drip Brew, Café au Lait, Espresso, French Press, Macchiato, Mocha, and Latte among others.

For chocolate lovers, there are the traditional hot chocolate as well as Mexican hot chocolate. Teas include quite an extensive array such as Chai Latte, Choco-Chai, eleven varieties of black tea, Oolong, Pu-Erh, White, Green, Herbal Tisanes, and Julie's specialty drinks like Ginger-Lemon Brew, Rosemary-Mint Green Tea Cooler, and the Kombucha.

Sourcing organic and locally grown ingredients, especially produce, eggs, nuts, seeds, and grains, Julie's strives to offer fresh, wholesome food to their guests. In the breakfast menu, you'll find porridge with walnuts, cinnamon, and raisins; organic boiled, scrambled, or baked eggs; almond-coconut granola; fresh-baked scone with Devonshire cream; quiche with seasonal vegetables, eggs, and cheese among a few other delicious recipes. For lunch, there is a medley of offerings including spaghetti squash pasta, vegan grain bowl, grilled cheese and season sandwiches, and the simple salad greens among others.

As a supplement to her main culinary offerings, Barron wanted to make ample room for art and crafts-inspired events and foster a community of patrons. For instance, two ongoing events on Julie's calendar are Community Craft Night every Thursday and the Knitting Support Group which convenes every fourth Thursday of the month. These events give people the opportunity to explore their artistic side, interact with fellow patrons, and motivate each other to finish their projects while sipping delicious coffee and tea.

As a way to encourage social interaction among her customers, Barron thought it a good idea to institute a "Weekends Unplugged" every Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 2pm. "People socialize, study, write or have business meetings," Barron adds. Julie's also makes room for displaying local artwork on their walls and shelves.

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