It’s a small, local chain with the flagship store located in downtown Livermore. Indoor and outdoor seating, lots of study space and tables, and an oustanding record of stellar and unique service.
Panama’s real point of excellence is their balance of service and professionalism; everything is a hand done process. The staff is trained rigorously in proper grinding, measuring, and serving the store’s espresso blend. In addition, all espresso based drinks are made by passionate staff. However, unlike a lot of other stores, they really emphasize customer service as an integral part of the coffee experience. It isn’t third wave, nor is it second; it has the heart of both. I came back from Japan last year and I was so blown away by how good they have become since I left. I return some months later and was blown away again. Every time I visit they are stepping up their game. Upgraded equipment and better training techniques are making their top baristas really oustanding. They have made many crucial upgrades including a new machine (Linnea), as well as offering new amenities like ceramic cups.
They have it all; light, medium, dark blends as well as some rare blends from around the world. Definitely check out the Noir, Carmelita, and Hacienda Geisha roasts. Yes, the Geisha is worth $10 an oz. Try it every conceivable way possible, seriously. A variety of pastries such as cookies, scones, fruit bars, brownies, and sandwiches are always abound. Sometimes the staff makes fresh surprise pastries throughout the day, which is always a treat. They bake in house now, every morning, which makes the experience all that much higher quality.
In general, the store has a very warm feel. The staff is very helpful and knowledgeable about the products they serve. You can sit and study for as long as you want and can make your own little world at your spot in the store. Sometimes, the outside can get a little rowdy and since it is in downtown, random disruptions have occurred (ask the editors for more details).
The store has a good layout which is very conducive to intimate conversations or studying. Thursday/Friday/Saturday night live music, game tournaments, local group meetings, etc.
Everyone who works here really love the store and coffee. Wilson is really a role model for others in the industry and George could not be a better customer SERVANT (yeah George, that’s right). Can’t get a better cup of coffee in the area.
Alright, so as a former employee, I am super biased about this place. I love it, hands down. I have been a customer since I was 13 and I worked here for about 10 months. Sure, the store isn’t perfect, but all coffee shops have flaws. But I truly believe that Panama has done a great thing in achieving a great balance between the yin and yang of product and atmosphere. If you are picky and set in your tastes, it may be hard to like Panama Red as it truly is its own flavor in so many ways. However, if you are in the area, I suggest you go in with an open mind and heart and you may just fall in love.
Panama Red Coffee
2115 1st St
Livermore, CA 94550-4543
- Mon-Thu 5:30 am – 10 pm
- Fri 5:30 am – 11 pm
- Sat 6 am – 11 pm
- Sun 7 am – 8 pm