The Filling Station

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I saw the Filling Station almost every day when I went to and from campus, to work, or around town since it is on such a highly traveled corner of Mission Street. I was always curious about whether or not this was a “legit” coffee spot since it always seemed to be changing on the outside. After hearing some mixed reviews and strange stories about their bean sourcing, I finally went in to set the record straight and try them out. This place is definitely “legit.”

The building is an old gas station converted into a cool little shop. It is unique to say the least, they definitely worked with what they had in terms of aesthetics, design, seating, and the layout of their bar. All the seating, save a short bar in the “garage,” is outside. While this well worked on a gorgeous day like today, I would be reticent to get a drink for here  because of  the weather about 30% of the time. I was immediately drawn to their machine, a small two group Linea. That thing looks like a true work horse and has seen some long days of good service. Really beautiful because of that. The lady taking our order was extremely friendly and helpful with picking coffees. My friend selected a Four Barrel Bolivia brewed in the Clever and my other friend and I got the standard cap. We were all blown away with the prices; $2.25 for a cap and pour over! It was so nice to see reasonably priced coffee in the face of exceedingly high prices at other stores around Santa Cruz. If anything, it’s a draw for people like me who are on a budget. It was a really nice trip hanging out with my two coffee enthusiast friends Ryan and Kyle, a great way to spend the late morning coffee hour, out in the sunshine, enjoying the easy pace of the Filling Station.

This place felt like it really embodied the Santa Cruz beach vibe; mellow, slow paced, but passionate, professional, and serious about what they did. Great aesthetics, great atmosphere. If it were closer than my work, I could see it becoming my neighborhood spot.

The cap itself was good. It was extremely hot with almost no micro-foam. The milk was not very sweet and the art left something to be desired. But the flavor was really solid and the espresso they were using was great. The real body of the cap came from the espresso-y flavor rather than anything notable from the milk, which was a little odd but not bad. There was clearly a stark contrast between the foam and the milk, uncharacteristic of a wet cap. Beside the foam, I think it was good, just not special. As the drink cooled, it got a little more flavorful. I don’t really review straight coffee on this site for a number of reasons (I have many, but catch me at a local shop and ask me then, it is hard to explain), but today I got to try some of my buddy’s Clever-brewed coffee. I enjoyed it, it was very light and almost tea-like. For $2.25, it was even better. I have been back on other visits and had higher levels of quality in my drinks that were more flavorful, prettier, and generally made much better. Their use of Four Barrel is definitely a plus and makes the flavor of their drinks stand out immensely. With a little time and care, these guys can put out a good drink as well.

As the name suggests, The Filling Station felt like a place to fill up on coffee and then head out for your day.I thought the name was totally fitting and my expectations were actually spot on. It was surreal; exactly what I thought The Filling Station should be like based on it’s appearance, name, and reputation. The barista chatted with us about Four Barrel for a bit as we were leaving. I was really impressed by his professional yet humble attitude. He admitted he didn’t know we were reviewing the place until after he started our drinks, lamenting that he wished he had spent more time on them. If he had known, sure, he probably would have done a stellar job, but even he believed that his craftsmanship and quality should be evaluated as is. Preparing for it would have ruined the the candidness of our mission and the true quality of his caps. I appreciated that he genuinely wanted to our input and wanted me to review his service based on our experience, how honest. What a good guy, especially in coffee, to admit that he wanted to improve himself and learn from the situation. I think that little exchange spoke to the quality of the Filling Station as a place that is not trying to be flashy or hip, just out to make a good drink and provide superb service with Santa Cruz flair.

I liked:

  • The genuine atmosphere of the building and staff
  • The prices
  • Their attitude, or lack thereof
  • The high quality of their sourced coffee
  • The awesome old Linea that has seen a lot of love

The Filling Station

1500 Mission St
Santa Cruz, CA 95005
(831) 427-3455      
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