“A coffee shop must have more than good coffee,” said Chromatic Coffee Café customer Minoo Amjadi, who prefers third wave coffee shops — the unique, independent ones — to national chains. “Ambiance is important.”
“Besides the coffee and tea here, I like the art work for sale by different artists and the artistic table tops on the outside tables. It’s like an art gallery,” said Amjadi one winter afternoon, sitting inside the Chromatic Coffee Café at 5237 Stevens Creek Blvd., in the unassuming Stephens Center near the Lawrence Expressway overpass.
Paintings by local artists are displayed on one long wall of Chromatic Coffee. The exhibit rotates every one or two months.
Amjadi also likes the merchandise for sale. Against the opposite wall are items such as logo sweatshirts, logo coffee mugs and locally-made snacks.
Barista shift lead Bryan La said that the home brewing section has all the tools needed to make great coffee — grinders, kettles, pour over equipment, and, of course, Chromatic coffees, which are organic and fair trade.
“Our coffees have a colorful history,” said La. “They come from farmers in countries like Brazil and El Salvador that we have developed personal relationships with.”
Chromatic Coffee opened in 2012, replacing Barefoot Coffee Roasters. It was purchased by Wendy Warren. James Warren, her brother, and colleagues own the Chromatic Coffee Roastery at 460 Lincoln Ave., San Jose.
La explains that Chromatic Coffee has a distinct roasting style. Once the roasted coffee beans arrive at the café, their freshness, ground particle size and uniformity, the right water chemistry, and the method of brewing all interplay in making a cup of coffee worth leaving home for.
Roastery co-owners James Warren and Hiver van Geenhoven devised a brewing system that allows a barista to use different water types on the same machine. It is the barista’s deft hand that is the final important step in brewing a great cup of coffee.
“Our coffees have a personality that you can enjoy without adding milk or sugar,” said La.
Nonetheless, one of the reasons customer Waan Vishnu frequents Chromatic Coffee is because she can have her coffee with oat milk, a dairy alternative, for no extra charge. She and her companions also enjoy the seasonal drinks that are offered, such as earth, wind and fire latte.
“Everyone comes here,” said La. “Our clients are local tech industry workers, students, teachers, artists, writers. A lot of first dates come on Saturday night to get to know each other over a nice hot cappuccino.”
Chromatic Coffee wholesale corporate accounts across the Bay Area include Amazon, Cisco and the eBay campus.
Chromatic Coffee in Santa Clara also serves craft beer and light snacks — local pastries and savory toasts. It is open until 9 p.m. daily.
A second café, also owned by Wendy Warren, was opened in downtown San Jose, 17 North 2nd St., in 2017. For special event and other information, visit Chromatic Coffee’s website (http://www.chromaticcoffee.com/) or their Facebook page.