Verve Coffee Roasters

Overall Rating: 8.500

Address: 816 41st Ave.
Cross Street(s): Portola Dr.
City, State ZIP: Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone: 831.475.7776
Hours: M-Th 6am-7:30pm; F 6am-8:30pm; Sa 7am-8:30pm; Su 7am-7:30pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 8.50
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Very consistent
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 8.50
Aroma: 8
Body: 8
Brightness: 9
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 1.5
Size: S
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Verve Coffee Roasters
Cup Manufacturer: ACF
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 08/01/2009
First Reviewed: 09/14/2008
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales; Outdoor Seating

We first encountered Verve at Slow Food Nation '08, where they contributed beans, baristas, and other support. Originally they had planned to open this café and roastery in Berkeley. However, one of the owners moved to Santa Cruz and the rest was history. Across one of the requisite surf shops in town, Verve operates a Probat-powered small roastery across an alleyway with café tables from their spacious, clean café. Jazz is a big theme: both owners are jazz lovers, organ players, and they name roasts after jazz albums. There's a bit of classy art with wallpaper and jazz music playing throughout. Inside there are tall ceilings and tall, bright windows surrounding several casual tables. Using a two-group La Marzocco GB/5, they pulled a shot of espresso using their Sermon blend (named after the Jimmy Smith album): a mixture of Brazilian, Sumatran, and dry-processed Ethiopian. The resulting shot had a thinner layer of dark brown crema in that reminded us of that thin-but-near-black crema popularized by the likes of Intelligentsia. They serve a doppio ristretto by default, and the shot is still quite short in its black ACF cup. There's some potent, syrup-like sweetness at bottom of cup, but it's characterized mostly by a pungent intensity in a concentrated, short shot. The baristas here carefully try and retry to get it right, and it shows. They will roast date the coffee you buy by writing it on the package, but it's not uncommon for them to sell roasts up to a week old. Even so, they've set the bar for Santa Cruz.