Verve and Santa Cruz can’t go together in the same sentence without the word “outstanding.” Whether this refers to their beans, drinks, facilities, or staff, Verve is one of the best coffee companies in California. There is no denying that. Their level of popularity and prestigue is seldom achieved by anyone. My individual experience and personal preferences with particularities aside, I have been a dedicated customer of their original location on 41st Ave since 2009. While I have been consistently impressed with the quality of my drinks from 41st, there are a handful of other things I feel somewhat more ambivalent about. They are one of the best in California, but not the best.
The roasters and most of the baristas at Verve, especially at 41st, care deeply about their company and strive for absolutely quality. The store is always immacualte, inviting, and homey. The bar lends itself as a wonderful showpiece and an efficient work station, allowing easy viewing of the entire process from almost anywhere within the shop. It is a sight to see baristas like Chris put forth such a high level of skill in every drink he serves. But Chris is not the only barista who is putting out coffee; the caliber of the staff at “the flagship store” is relatively equal. I’m glad they did not compromise on training for the sake of having a “celebrity” barista. That quality alone assures me that despite the award winning quality of their bean, I will always have a good drink that is properly prepared. Both are indicators of amazing quality.
That being said, I have never had a bad drink at this particular location, ever. I have had ones that felt slightly rushed in less than optimal circumstances, but they have all been of a high grade, from caps to cold coffee. Personally, there some items I am not a huge fan of, namely “the Sermon” espresso which tastes far too chemically, in my opinion. Sometimes, drinks or beans are good but comparable to other shops. But other than this, everything else is great to outstanding. “Street Level,” for instance, is solid no matter where I have it. The cold brew and brewed coffee at 41st has always been prepared with great methods to the highest standards. Drinks are always good, great, or oustanding.
Verve is, for better or for worse, the epitome of “cool.” They are good, and more times than one, I have been reminded of this ubiquitous fact. Their reputation within the industry and amongst coffee enthusiasts seems to concur; Verve is not only good coffee, it is “hip,” trendy coffee. Egos sometimes become a little overbearing and daunting during my visits. I will simply leave it at this: while confidence and pride are well deserved, there are many other shops that are capable of the same quality or better. There is more than one Sigma Cum Laud in coffee.
Verve 41st is without a doubt their best location, the heart of the operation, and where it all began. Despite my reservations about the image or the quality, I believe that Verve is one of the best coffee roasters in the state. I hope that as they expand and grow as a company, they reflect on and attempt to emulate what the 41st store firmly stands for; quality and consistency.
- Street Level
- Status as a roaster
- Regular, experienced staff
Santa Cruz, CA 95062