6500 Shattuck Ave., Oakland www.nomadcafe.net
On an unassuming block of Shattuck Avenue just over the Oakland line, Nomad Café puts a 21st-century spin on what Bay Area coffeehouses did in their 1950s-’70s heyday: provide welcoming places that brewed up great coffee, lively arts, and visions of a better world.
Nomad sponsors cozy live music on weekends (when candles appear on the tables) and offers high-speed Internet terminals and connections whenever it’s open. Its menu includes tasty paninni, light Mediterranean meals, baked goods, breakfast dishes, smoothies, and teas. The coffee is so fresh and explosively delicious that you’ll wonder whether other coffeehouses have been unable to find their espresso machines’ “on” switches for the last 20 years.
The idealism on tap here is environmental: Nomad Café is so proud of its low energy and water bills that it posts them on the Web. It’s also proud of winning waste-reduction awards. (This is one coffeehouse where you needn’t beg for “real” cups, plates, or cutlery.) You get a choice of recycling and compost bins, but the trash is hidden.