Ventura is a small, coastal town in Southern California. For the most part, this is the sort of place people pass through, perhaps on the way to visit our more famous neighbors, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

But for those who make a stop in Ventura, there is a lot to love. The hikes are plentiful, beaches beautiful, and the surfing conditions world-renowned. It is the launchpad to the Channel Islands National Park, known as the “North American Galapagos” for its incredible biodiversity.

Ventura is, at its heart, an agricultural community. With a rich and dynamic farming history dating back to the 1800s, Venturans value locally-grown produce, and the people who farm it. These conditions have created a unique market for specialty coffee where consumers both understand and appreciate seasonality, variety, and terroir.

This has led to the growth of a strong, albeit young, specialty coffee scene. Gayla Moore led the way with the opening of her roasting facility, Moore Coffee and Tea, in 1990. However, it took another 20 years before a wave of independent roasters and cafes opened to the public. Ventura is a small community and these cafes play an important role as social spaces.

The following coffee shops are all run by passionate locals who go out of their way to support their community. Ventura’s cafes are a microcosm of the city itself: friendly, relaxed, and everybody knows everybody. Here’s a few favorites for your next stop in Ventura.

ventura cityguide 02 beacon exterior

Beacon Coffee Company

Beacon Coffee Company is tucked in an obscure industrial estate. New visitors approach trepidatiously, questioning whether they have the right address. Once inside, however, guests are welcomed into a cozy cafe. The beauty of this sequestered spot is that nobody stumbles into Beacon by accident. Their customers travel out of their way in pursuit of deliciousness.

Opened in 2010, Beacon is Ventura’s original roaster retailer. It has been incredibly influential within the city’s coffee scene. Owners John and Jennifer Wheir source unique micro-lots directly from producers that have been growing for generations. A rotating selection of these are brewed in a Ground Control Cyclops. Customers sip their coffee whilst watching the roasting process through a large interior window at the rear of the cafe.

ventura cityguide 03 beacon interior

The knowledgeable baristas are always happy to geek out with customers looking for recommendations or brewing tips. There is even a full schedule of coffee classes held out back. Over the last decade-and-a-half this place has developed a loyal following amongst Ventura locals. Come here for delicious coffee, served without pretension.

Beacon Coffee is located at 5777 Olivas Park Dr r, Ventura. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

ventura cityguide 04 palm and boy exterior

Palm and Boy

Palm and Boy is located in the heart of historic downtown Ventura, tucked down an alley in the El Jardin Courtyard. The courtyard was built in 1925 and is one of the earliest outdoor malls in Southern California. Its quiet, peaceful ambiance transports you to a different time.

Palm and Boy is locally owned by a member of Ventura’s Latinx community. Jaimelene (Jamie) Salgado worked as an employee and manager there for over four years before purchasing the cafe from the previous owner. She wants people to feel a sense of love and community when they enter Palm and Boy, and her eye for detail is clearly evident in the coffee program. The drinks are reliably delicious. Palm and Boy prepares Handlebar Coffee Roasters from Santa Barbara on a La Marzocco Strada. In terms of the trifecta of setting, service, and coffee quality, Palm and Boy consistently ticks all the boxes.

advert but first coffee cookbook now available


ventura cityguide 04 palm and boy interior

Since it opened in 2017, the cafe has developed a loyal following, and it is easy to see why. The quiet courtyard is an oasis, filled with delicious coffee and welcoming baristas. If you are feeling peckish, they are also known for their acai bowls. The bowls are absolutely delicious, made from fresh and local produce.

Palm and Boy is located at 451 E Main St #8, Ventura. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

ventura cityguide 05 frontside exterior

Frontside Cafe

It is unusual in Ventura to find a cafe that delivers equally high quality coffee, food, and ambiance. This is what makes Frontside Cafe so special: every element exceeds expectations. Frontside is owned and operated by local husband and wife team, Charne and Joel Huff, whose attention to detail can be felt throughout the entire store This extends from the menu, to service, and to the coffee program.

The La Marzocco Linea espresso machine sits behind large warehouse style windows and removes the sound of the grinders but not the sight of the baristas. Frontside brews locally-roasted beans from Beacon Coffee Company. The coffee menu is simple and well executed. A particular stand out is the flat white.

ventura cityguide 06 fronstide interior

The brews at Frontside are best experienced dine in and paired with something from the fresh, chef-driven menu. It is always worth getting the weekly special as it will likely never be on the menu again (and it is always amazing).

The cafe itself is open, airy, and inviting. This aesthetic is reflected in the service style which strikes a balance between attentive and relaxed. Both the decor and menu have subtle nods to the owners’ time spent living in Sydney. In the tradition of great Australian cafes, Frontside delivers excellence in both their coffee and food programs.

Frontside Cafe is located at 1070 E Front St, Ventura. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

ventura cityguide 07 ragamuffin exterior

Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters

It is uncommon to find quality coffee inside of a food hall and even more shocking to see a functioning roastery there. But that is exactly what Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters has achieved within the Collection shopping center where they are roasting and brewing a phenomenal range of coffees.

Ragamuffin began with Shawn and Sarah Pritchett roasting coffee in their garage. In 2015 they opened a cafe in Newbury Park, followed by their 2017 Oxnard location. Whilst not technically in Ventura proper, at under half a mile from its border, it would be remiss not to include them in this guide.

ventura cityguide 08 ragamuffin interior 1

The Pritchetts genuinely value relationships: with their guests, their staff, and the people who grow the coffee they roast. They see coffee as an opportunity for creating connections within their community. Ragamuffin is designed to be a space where people can meet over an ethically sourced, high quality cup of coffee.

Alongside farmer Lisa Soury, the Pritchetts are co-owners of California Coffee Collective, which hosts farm tours and tasting sessions at Rancho Filoso in neighboring Santa Paula. This hands-on experience has given the Ragamuffin team and their customers a greater understanding of and appreciation for the hard work and diligence it takes to produce excellent coffee.

Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters is located at 550 Collection Blvd Suite 130, Oxnard. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

ventura cityguide 10 singing sun exterior

Singing Sun Coffee

What really sets Singing Sun apart from other coffee shops is its phenomenal fit out. Owners Corban and Raquel Campbell were instrumental in both the design and physical build of the cafe. Large windows and high ceilings make the space feel open and bright. Exposed brick, woodwork, and lush greenery bring a sense of warmth and comfort.

Singing Sun has become Midtown Ventura’s community hub. There is a steady stream of relaxed regulars strolling through the door greeting the baristas and chatting amongst each other. The spacious circular seating area at the front window encourages all who enter to find a sense of community. Singing Sun epitomizes the concept of coffee shops as the third space. This has been achieved through both clever design choices and the welcoming culture of the team.

ventura cityguide 11 singing sun interior

Corban has a close relationship with Sightglass Coffee. They supply Singing Sun with a custom blend, and a rotating range of single origin coffees. Those feeling adventurous should ask the baristas about the secret menu.

It is not just Singing Sun’s drinks that have a strong following, but also its merchandise. Of particular note is their “time tumbled” collection. The team carefully source worn garments and update them with embroidery and screen prints. It is a unique, sustainable approach to merchandising.

Singing Sun Coffee is located at 1930 E Main St, Ventura. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

ventura cityguide 12 prospect exterior

Prospect Coffee Roasters

Brothers Blake and Derek Ulrich had no coffee experience (roasting or brewing) before opening Prospect Coffee Roasters in 2014. By 2017 they were confident enough in their skills to open a brick and mortar location: their iconic cafe on the corner of Laurel and Santa Clara St. The space is light and bright with a clean aesthetic.

The obvious exception to the tightly curated decor is the pop of color and chaos above the barista’s hand wash basin. Customers sitting at the bar can glance across at staff doodles and notes taped haphazardly to the wall under a colorful mish mash of mugs. The Ulrichs attribute Prospect’s success to the dedicated team of baristas who decorated this wall. These baristas are the creative force behind Prospect’s popular range of rotating specialty drinks.

ventura cityguide 13 prospect interior

Prospect’s approach to roasting and brewing is intended to showcase the inherent characteristics of the coffee. In this way, they aim to honor and respect the work that has gone into growing and producing the coffee they roast and brew. They rotate their single origin offerings daily, on both batch brew and espresso. Their team is always happy to make recommendations about what coffee is most exciting to them that day.

Prospect Coffee Roasters is located at 92 S Laurel St, Ventura. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

Kelsey Horwitz is a coffee professional and freelance journalist based in Ventura, California. This is Kelsey Horwitz’s first feature for Sprudge.

New Rules of Coffee banner advertising an illustrated guide to the essential rules for enjoying coffee