Six places for a great cup of coffee in Truckee.
Take a westward glance from any point in Truckee and you’ll see that distinct ridge of granite where the sun sets every day. It’s the Sierra Nevada, and riding its backbone from Mexico to Canada is a trail known as the Pacific Crest. This stretch of the trail is one snowboarder Ralph Backstrom knows well. The pitches, keyholes and powder stashes are where the Truckee resident refined his boarding skills to the point that he reigned as 2013’s Freeride World Tour Champion.
Then came another passion: coffee.
In the summer of 2018, Backstrom — who fellow competitors knew as someone obsessed by the power and flavor of coffee — set the boards aside and launched Pacific Crest Coffee, a storefront coffee bar and small-batch roaster on Pioneer Trail. His partner is U.S. Ski Team member, Travis Ganong. And while Ganong still runs the circuit, the 36-year-old Backstrom is — for now — far from the slopes, fully immersed in the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
“I’m all about the data right now,” said Backstrom, referencing the input that goes into making each batch, a process he’s determined will produce an excellent brew on a consistent basis. “I want to know I’m getting a great cup of coffee every single time. I want my friends and customers to expect that of us as well.”
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters is another local standout for people in search of an exceptional cup of joe. Housed on River Street in a historic stone building that once was a saloon, Dark Horse Coffee complements its fine grinds with occasional live music, an atmosphere that invites connection all day long.
In 2010, in an old tin garage on a street known as Jiboom, Coffeebar was born. While there’s no longer any old tools lying about, you will find the same coffees, teas, pastries and light meals that locals rave about. Its Italian café experience has just the right amount of clamor and calm. This is a go-to for visitors who venture slightly off main street as well as locals on their way to work or en route to the slopes.
A trip to the DMV on Donner Pass Road is suddenly now more attractive since Wild Cherries Coffee House arrived bearing premier coffees along with a long line of breakfast and lunch specials as well as soups, salads and kids meals. That explains why locals make a daily beeline for this coffee house. In addition to the full line of caffeine (and decaf) fixes is a tasty line of bagel sandwiches, a spicy chicken club, and Greek salad, among many others.
On that quaint, historic street on the other side of the tracks from Truckee’s main strip is the quickly embraced newcomer to the local coffee scene: Cornerstone Bakery. Housed in a quaint brick building on River Street, the Cornerstone Bakery complements its coffees with a mouthwatering selection of pastries that are baked from scratch daily. Custom cakes are another specialty of this business and there’s a healthy selection of gluten free options.
Like Wild Cherries, Zuri Coffee Co. is located in west Truckee on Donner Pass Road, not far from the inevitable rigors to be found at the DMV. The name “Zuri” is anchored in the roots of its owners — Esther and Werner Ospelt — who hail from Zurich. The Swiss experience of great coffee, along with amazing bagels, organic avocado toast, paninis, pastries and salads, is enhanced by the artistic flair of Esther, an honored graduate of the Interior Design Academy in Switzerland.
Finally, if you’re looking to find a local roaster who’s mastered that taste of Truckee you can take home or to the office or, better yet, on those road trips to camping, hiking, or to all places outdoor, then one shop’s products of passion can instantly put you in that state of mind. Local entrepreneur Nick Visconti’s dream began in the Swiss Alps in 2012 while a pro snowboarder. His vision is to capture in every bag of coffee those high elevation sensations that so inspired him. There is no storefront or shop but the goods for Drink Coffee, Do Stuff are found throughout northern California and are posted at https://drinkcoffeedostuff.com/ .
Whether you’re looking for an eye-opener to fire up a day of skiing, shopping or working, or whether the occasion calls for a mid-afternoon cup of relaxation, Truckee’s coffee scene is one that is both lively and colorful.
Story by Scott Mortimore