We talked a bit about Trouble Coffee in our post about the Outer Sunset, but the coffee shop you'll find in West Oakland is a stark contrast to the original- it's big, bright, and oh-so-white. Fear not, the toast and coconuts are still to be found!
Here to tell you the story of Trouble Coffee is our friend (and talented photographer!) Cory Maryott. Cory is a California native and a freelance photographer who now calls the Bay Area home, and you can get to know him more on his Instagram! Take it away, Cory.
I’d heard of the original Trouble Coffee from a friend a while back. Their original location is a few blocks from the beach, on Judah street in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. I was told of their wondrously delicious cinnamon toast and coffee, and of the other intriguing menu choices—whole coconuts, and grapefruit juice shots. I was also warned that Trouble is quite unlike other coffee shops, and that the staff and culture could be a little “intense”. When I heard a new location had opened close to me in the East Bay, I was excited to check it out and see what the buzz was all about.
My friend Ellie and I met one morning and enjoyed coffee, toast, and a coconut in the beautiful light filled cafe. Large windows flank both the south and east walls, and light bounces around the nearly all white interior.
The culture here is very different from other coffee shops. The space is designed to get people to talk to one another, so the use of laptops and other electronic devices is not allowed. Instead, customers are encouraged to grab a coconut or toast and some coffee and strike up a conversation with someone next to you, or the staff there.
Trouble's owner Giulietta has a very compelling story, and you should definitely listen to this episode from This American Life to hear it all. Every element of her coffee shop is derived from her experiences: cinnamon toast was one of Giulietta's comfort foods, and coconuts were a nutritious source of sustenance for her. At Trouble, the coconuts are served with both a straw and a spoon, to scrape out the meat. Coconuts were also a way for Giulietta to start conversations with people and make new friends.
I had the latte and cinnamon toast, while Ellie went for the coconut and a drip coffee. You can learn more about Giulietta's story here.
We both enjoyed the airy space and Giulietta had a conversation with us. I actually didn’t know what she looked like, so I had no idea she was the owner until she talked about her vision for an all white coffee shop with us. She and the other staff are very kind and welcoming, don’t be shy about talking with them!
Some things to know before you go: the cafe is cash only, so be sure to bring cash! Otherwise there is an ATM on site. Trouble has been known to reprimand people for taking photos in their other locations, but it seems that rule has now been relaxed a bit. The staff kindly requested I do not include them in any photos, so please be sure to double check if you go!
All photography in this post is by Cory Maryott. Thanks for sharing your story, Cory!