Where to Find the Best Lattes in Palo Alto


Whether you’re grabbing a coffee on the way to work or catching up with a friend, these coffee shops are serving up some of the best lattes in Palo Alto.

Take It From a Coffee Connoisseur — Here’s Where You Can Find the Best Lattes in Palo Alto

If you’re a coffee fanatic like me, you’ll most likely want to know where the local coffee shops are when you’re house shopping. While this might not be the most important item to consider when you’re looking into neighborhoods, it’s certainly toward the top of the list for me!
Lucky for you, I’ve got the scoop on some of the best coffee shops and cafes in Palo Alto. Whether you’re grabbing a coffee on the way to work or catching up with a friend, these coffee shops are serving up some of the best lattes in Palo Alto.

Tōno Coffee Project

Trendy and modern are just a couple of words that come to mind when describing Tōno Coffee Project. This sleek hole-in-the-wall pop-up now occupies what used to be Janta Indian Cuisine. Located on Lytton street, Tōno occupies a small window on the left side of the building. Make sure you plan on taking your coffee to go, as there’s no indoor seating. There is, however, a cute outdoor courtyard if you’re lucky enough to snag a table. If not, no worries. Perhaps consider taking a stroll down the street to Johnson Park and enjoy your coffee there?
Before you stop by Tōno, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, as I mentioned earlier, Tōno is small. But what it makes up for in terms of size, it most certainly exceeds in flavor and taste. They also only offer one kind of milk: oat milk. This is perfect for me, as this is one of my favorite milk alternatives, but if you’re not a fan, you’ll most likely be getting your coffee black.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no brewed coffee here. Instead, Tōno specializes in strict espresso, which is perfect if you need a little extra boost to get you through the day.
If you’re hoping for a cup of joe, you’ll have to settle for the Americano. Personally, I enjoy my coffee black and strong, so the Americano was a bit too weak for my tastes. I do, however, enjoy their espresso and espresso macchiatos. If you’ve read my blog before, then you’ll know what I mean by a proper macchiato (hint: it’s not the Starbucks version of a macchiato). 

Mademoiselle Colette

Yes, Mademoiselle Colette is technically a French patisserie, but technicalities aside, what’s a good pastry without an excellent cup of coffee to go along with it? The interior of this patisserie is enough to win you over, with its black and white decor and walls of windows that allow plenty of sunshine to stream through. Their espresso and espresso macchiatos never disappoint. They also offer a variety of house-made syrups if you prefer your drinks a bit sweeter.
Their New Orleans Style Cold Brew, infused with chicory, is another favorite and especially delicious on a hot day. I have yet to try their drip coffee, as I prefer espresso-based drinks. But if you prefer a basic cup of coffee, Mademoiselle Colette has you covered! This charming patisserie offers three non-dairy options, enabling you to find a milk alternative that suits you. Don’t forget to get a pastry to go along with your coffee (you can thank me later).

Backyard Brew

Welcome to Backyard Brew — officially ranked number one on my list of favorite coffee places in Palo Alto. I like this coffee shop so much that during the height of the pandemic, I ordered whole bags of beans, and Backyard Brew drove them to my house and left them at my door! Talk about dedication. This even inspired my friends to do the same, and before you knew it, Backyard Brew was delivering bags of coffee and tea to multiple households in my neighborhood.
Backyard Brew is finally open again for in-person dining, so naturally, I am excited. Be sure to check out their cute and funky outdoor patio area, which is closed on the sides and open on the top. The patio gives you plenty of space to spread out and enjoy your coffee.
What’s unique about this coffee joint is that they use real spices in their coffee infusions. As much as I love their macchiatos and cortados, I also enjoy their seasonal offerings as well. For instance, the Oh Canada is made with maple (naturally) and cinnamon. Their Falling in Love Chai is created with real vanilla beans, although this drink is not sweet.
Given the fun and laid-back nature of the patio (not to mention their killer playlists), it’s not hard to understand why this spot is a favorite among Palo Alto residents and visitors alike. Although I wouldn’t typically note the bathroom, Backyard Brew’s restroom is wholly covered in comic book pictures, elevating the cool factor.

Zombie Runner Coffee

I had just gotten a coffee (two coffees, if I’m honest) at Backyard Brew and was strolling down California Avenue, double fisting my caffeine when I walked past Zombie Runner Coffee. I noticed they had vegan pastries and was instantly intrigued. Although I am not vegan, I am lactose intolerant and allergic to soy. These magical pastries were both soy and dairy-free, so, of course, I had to stop and check them out.
Obviously, I didn’t feel right bringing in coffee from another place, so I did what any logical person would do — I shot my macchiato and chugged my Oh Canada like I was auditioning for an Animal House remake. I ventured in, bought a pastry, and then I figured since I was already there, I might as well grab a coffee, right? After all, I needed something to go with my vegan almond bar.
I couldn't decide between the Zombies Never Sleep (cold brew, espresso, and milk) or the Zombie Runner Chai (black tea, spices, and milk), so I got them both. And then I got an espresso because if I'm going to judge a coffee place, I should also try just their plain espresso. Don't judge me.
So, now armed with my three coffees and my pastry, I found a table in the shade outside the shop and proceeded to enjoy the delicious dairy-free pasty. It was gooey in all the right ways, definitely not dry, and was neither helped nor hurt by the coffee pairings.
In terms of the coffee, I found the Zombie Runner Chai to be too sweet for my tastes. However, the espresso was solid and featured the right amount of acidity, as I would expect from a good coffee place. But the Zombies Never Sleep was my all-time favorite. Espresso AND cold brew in one drink? Yes, please! (For those keeping track, yes, I had five coffee drinks in just under an hour, and no, I don't regret it.)

Palo Alto Cafe

I grew up just a few blocks from Palo Alto Cafe, so it’s not hard to understand why it has a soft spot in my heart. Before I drank coffee (yes, I had a time Before Coffee — B.C.!) I would stop by on my bicycle and get a hot chocolate after ice skating practice or a sandwich after karate practice.
Now that I appreciate coffee, I love stopping in for just a cup of their house-roasted coffee or espresso. They roast their own beans, which means it always smells amazing. They also have reliable Wi-Fi, so I find myself in Midtown during the week. Is it a fancy coffee bar? No. Do they do the staples well? Absolutely.

Honorable Mention: Philz Coffee

While it may not be in my top favorites, it’s worth noting that Philz Coffee receives honorable mentions in my book! I love Philz Coffee, and the Midtown Philz was my first introduction to this shop. The bright, colorful mural might have originally drawn me in, but it’s the excellent pour-over that’s kept me coming back for years, time and time again.
The Midtown location is small, with limited indoor seating. This makes it a cozy and warm environment where you’ll instantly feel at home. The main draw is the outdoor patio, which is shared with the cafe next door. Though it’s often busy, I’ve never personally had a problem finding outdoor seating. Of course, the earlier you get here, the easier it'll be to find seating — and parking!
The Downtown Philz offers more indoor seating, and it’s always bustling with people coming and going. Due to its close proximity to the train station and offices downtown, the downtown shop rarely has a quiet moment. I love the mismatched, comfortable chairs and couches, which bring a colorful and comfortable atmosphere into the shop. There’s little I love more than sinking into a corner of one of these plush chairs with a book and large ambrosia.
If you want to sit down for a coffee and chat about Palo Alto homes for sale, reach out to me today. I’d love to help you find your dream home today. 

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