Best Wine Country Coffee Houses

The North Bay's best places to get work done while simultaneously jolting your brain into alertness

The best place to get work done while simultaneously jolting your brain into alertness. Comfy seats, the smell of roasting beans, that funky guy in the corner playing guitar —  resistance is futile.

Aqus Cafe: Foundry Wharf’s coffee and croissant clatch goes way beyond simple morning fuel. The Petaluma arts community calls this packed little cafe its home away from home, with live music, art, film and a passionate community folk gathered round its tables. Open for dinner until 9pm Thursday and Friday, until 10pm Saturday. Board games for kids and adults each Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:30pm. 189 H Street, Petaluma CA (707) 778-6060.

Coffee Catz: Kitschy faux-Victorian boudoir style only adds to the Sebastopolian groove of this long-time coffeehouse/open mike
night/acoustic jam spot. WiFi-enabled. Hours vary depending on the day, but they’re usually open until 6pm or so. 6761 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol. (707) 829-6600

Flying Goat Coffee: “The Goat” on the square (324 Center St., (707) 433-3599) is Healdsburg’s defacto meet-up spot,  where you’re almost guaranteed to spot neighbors and co-workers sipping lattes over the latest gossip. Open Monday through Sunday until 7pm. The Santa Rosa location in the old Western Hotel (10 Fourth St., 575-1202) is also a local haunt, and according to Jeff Dwyer of the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to California’s Wine Country, home to a resident spirit.

Blue Label at the Belvedere: After several months of success as a dinner-only spot, Blue Label at the Belvedere’s funky kitchen crew have opened for breakfast. Utilizing the old bar as cafe central, there’s both grab and go counter service with made-to-order espresso drinks (the Stuffed Buffalo is a winner with ginger syrup, milk and espresso), house made pastries (fresh donuts on Mondays only, muffins, breakfast burritos, rolls and daily coffee cakes the rest of the week) but you’re also welcome to grab a seat and savor Stuffed French Toast, quiche, egg strata, oatmeal or a plate of the best Biscuits and Gravy you’ll ever taste. And I made sure to try it twice just to make sure. The crew mix things up from day to day to keep it interesting, kind of like your mama would. So just eat what they’re serving and say thank you. The sunny side porch is as inviting a spot as you’ll find in Sonoma County to fill your tummy with scratch-baked comfort cuisine. Good food makes for a good morning.  Open 8am to 2:30pm (they’re doing lunch now, too!) 727 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, 542-8705.

A’roma Roasters: It’s often a challenge to find an open seat at this eclectic Railroad Square roastery/ice cream shop. Writers, artists, students and the bohemian-set commingle happily, sating munchies, catching rays outside and regulating caffeine deficiencies. Wifi, open mic and live music. Open late. 95 5th Street, Santa Rosa, 707-576-7765.

Holy Roast: Though the spot seemed to be a longshot when it opened, Holy Roast has become my living room away from, well, my living room. Opened in 2007 by Wayne Conley, this cozy java joint has a daily lineup of regulars ranging from Highway Patrol officers to bleary-eyed Press Democrat reporters, orange-vested city employees and, well, pretty much anyone who works north of Fifth Street in downtown Santa Rosa. Friendly and competent baristas, fresh morning pastries and solid noon-time salads and sandwiches from Pearson & Co. make for repeat biz. Clearly someone upstairs is looking out for Holy Roast because the coffee and the company is divine. 490 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.523.3137

My Friend Joe: One of the friendliest and most fun coffeehouses in Sonoma County, My Friend Joe is a SRJC hangout, open mic performance space, breakfast mecca (try the Nutella and bacon panning) and jumping java joint. It’s easy to cruise past the strip mall space, but seek and ye shall be rewarded. 1810 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.

Coffee Bazaar: A cozy local java joint with an attached used book shop? Pinch me, I’m dreamin. Wifi & open mic nights. 14045 Armstrong Woods, Guerneville, (707) 869-9706. Northlight Books & Cafe, 550 E. Cotati Ave., Cotati, 792-4300.