Flying Goat


Every time I receive training, I am told the story of the “flying goats.” There are a few versions, but generally the story goes something like this: a Yemenese farmer is walking his herd of goats through a field and few of them eat some seeds that had fallen to the ground from a nearby coffee plant. After a few minutes, his goats started running around like crazy, possessed by some mystic energy, almost as if they were “flying.” The Flying Goat pays homage to this tale through name and a commitment to good coffee.

With Sonoma County being a key player in fine-wine culture, a community movement towards artisan coffee seems inevitably organic. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across more than a handful of stores north of The Bay that can put out a decent brew. Flying Goat is, at least in name, somewhat renowned in the coffee industry. In fact, the name was basically the only thing I had heard about. Being a Santa Rosa native, I had to make the trek and try them out. Note: FG is located in the historic Railroad Square area but it is a bit tricky to find. It is tucked away on a side street, so be sure to check the address before you visit.

The building and space are very welcoming and homey. The large windows, white wood paneling, and simple layout with a very long, open bar are very charming. FG most certainly qualifies as a “coffee bar.” It felt old, but not in an uncared for sense, I guess classic is more accurate. Overall it created a very comfortable atmosphere. I stopped in during a slower part of the business day. By mid afternoon, many stores have a low energy atmosphere. Most people were studying and the staff was not doing much behind the bar. It was quiet, and that was pleasant.

The cap and ice coffee I sampled were good, but not entirely noteworthy. Many people have told me that we “taste with our eyes”; how we visualize our meals will actually influence how we taste the flavors of a dish. Thus, bad looking food will cause people to assume it has bad flavor. I am not sure if this is true of coffee. The importance of art and presentation were drilled into my head and as much as I subscribe to this crucial step, rather than approaching it from a “tasting with our eyes” perspective, I just like to think that presentation demonstrates a certain level of professional skill. With caps, the art is generally an indicator of milk texture and overall flavor quality; clean art can only be done with milk that has been properly steamed. At FG, my cap did not feature free pour art. Instead, my name was etched into a nice glob of milk. It was cute and I appreciated the departure from the standard tulip or rosetta. Call me a snob, but I did not put much stock into the milk quality because etching just doesn’t do it for me. The espresso was decent, extremely mild without any bright notes or definitive flavor characteristics. The texture was better than I expected. While the temperature and foam held up well over the few minutes of sipping, it was nothing extraordinary.

While I found the store quaint and my drink a bit typical, I do not think there are many other places near Santa Rosa that could match their quality. Then again, I don’t know or hear much about coffee north of the Bay Area. The reputation of Flying Goat certainly proceeded itself and though it is a good shop, I expected a little more from a place with that level of recognition.

I liked:

  • Quiet
  • The drive through wine country to get there
  • Solid quality
Flying Goat Coffee
10 4th St
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 575-1202

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