Local coffee serves up caffeine kick and unique flavors without the guilt


Natalie Hanson

For a brunch day, Great Northern also offers a raspberry white mocha with whipped cream trim, and pastries such as scones.

It’s a competitive land out here in Chico when your caffeine withdrawal sets in. If you have time between classes and need something hot in your hand fast before your face hits the desk, the first thought is likely where to get a nearby jolt of joe, fast.

Sure, when I’m super rushed, I go to Creekside and the BMU more than I’d like (full disclosure, lattes are my fuel of choice and I can’t go four hours without my second coffee of the day). But let’s be honest, it’s still just buying Peet’s, and wouldn’t you rather support a local business rather than just another chain?

There are so many homegrown coffee shops in Chico serving up amazing coffees that it would be a shame, in my opinion, to only go to Starbucks and Dutch every time. Especially when our town is home to some classic caffeine stops, including three which happen to all be within walking distance of Chico State.

Check out some truly flavorful and unique local cafe hangouts, all with prices to beat the chains!

Naked Lounge

118 W 2nd St, Chico. Open Mon-Sun 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This is the first place I think of when recommending Chico newcomers to some local coffee. It’s both iconic and laid-back, covered in art, colorful couches and fair trade tea. Start with a basic menu here for a delicious take on the usual latte or mocha, or try something adventurous. They have some truly unique concoctions besides your standard mocha worth a taste too besides the standard cappuccino. Try a Keith Richards (two espresso shots over iced Shasta Cola), a Bowl of Soul (chamomile in steeped with honey in soy milk, topped with chocolate), or the Jack Kerouac (4 shots with a little milk and cream shaken over ice). Drop by sometime in the evening too- it’s a favorite for local musical artist showcases.

Time Crunch Tip- On a Thursday afternoon, I was able to walk from Butte Hall on campus to Naked Lounge, order an espresso drink, and get back to Kendall Hall in under 25 minutes.

Tin Roof

627 Broadway St #170, Chico. Open Mon-Sun 7 a.m. to 5 p.m, Sun 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Tin Roof
Tin Roof offers freshly baked pastries and lunch as well as coffees, teas and smoothies. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

A longer walk but absolutely worth it. There are ample seating and the crisp aroma of baking bread. It’s almost impossible to not get a pastry here along with your latte, an offering of the Roof I usually get here in a tall glass. Their menu of baked goods and lunch offerings is extensive and fresh. All of their fresh-brewed coffee and espresso drinks are excellent, particularly their fresh-brewed cold “teddy” for iced coffees. But they also offer incredible chai, blended coffees, several kinds of smoothies, and Italian sodas.

Time Crunch Tip- It’s always much faster to get here in the afternoons or on weekends after 11 a.m. However, there’s nothing like the fresh baked bread and pastries first thing in the morning.

Great Northern Coffee

434 Orange St, Chico. Open Mon-Sun 8 a.m. to 5 p.m

Never heard of this place? Get yourself down to Orange Street, just a couple blocks from campus, and when you see the train station, go ahead and walk inside the train car. I mean it, this place is inside an actual train car, next to the old train station. Its menu is a little smaller, but all brewed coffee creations are delicious and affordable. For price comparison, a plain latte here is $4.25 for a 16 oz medium, as compared to $4.25 for a 12 oz latte at Naked Lounge. A small variety of pastries and teas are also on hand. Check out the authentic leather train seats, charmingly left in their vintage state, or even crack open a board game kept nearby. I’ve heard some great political debates in here over espresso. Plus, photo ops in or outside the car are irreplaceable.

Time Crunch Tip- This place may be several blocks from Chico State, but it is never crowded even when I visit on a weekend morning. On weekdays, I recommend having 20-30 minutes to spare if you’re between classes due to cross traffic. Otherwise, there are three parking options nearby the train car if you prefer your caffeine first thing in the morning!

Natalie Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or @NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.