Election Section

Berkeley’s Best: Jump’n Java By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday April 15, 2005

Jump’n Java 

6606 Shattuck Ave., Oakland 



People who like iced coffee best often have southern roots. In the southern United States, New Orleans and environs, iced coffee used to be (and perhaps still is) the sophisticated alternative to the ubiquitous summer iced tea. Here in California, land of eternal summer, real iced coffee is perfect for days when the temperature in the sun gets above 70 and outdoor café tables get crowded. 

Jump’n Java, on South Shattuck near the Berkeley-Oakland border, gets it right. They start with strong coffee—“black as night, dark as sin”— pre-chilled so that adding ice doesn’t dilute it. That’s the key step. It’s a serious disappointment to order iced coffee and be served a weak, tepid, pale brown liquid produced by pouring hot coffee over ice.  

Real southerners used to add heavy cream. Jump’n Java will provide other whiteners on request, but their first offer is half-and-half—luxury enough by California standards. Their iced coffee comes in a tall heavy glass, not a paper cup or the evil-tasting clear plastic cups which name brand chains use to spoil their offering of otherwise not-so-bad iced coffee.  

The small café is a pleasant place to drink it, too. There are three sidewalk tables, and inside, facing rows of small ones complete with Internet and plugs for laptop users. The walls are decorated with tropical murals featuring parrots and palm trees. The music is NOT the heavy-metal choice of the dishwasher-du-jour which ruins conversation at many cafes. And the owner remembers your name after the second or third visit…just like down home.