While most immediately recognized for its claims to gaming fame, Reno, Nevada, also offers a jackpot of culture, cuisine and entertainment beyond the slots.
The city and its resident organizations and companies host a wide spectrum of events, including a classic car week with touring musicians galore, a world-class rodeo, a huge Cinco de Mayo festival, and more. Business is also booming with some Silicon Valley titans — namely Apple and Tesla — which have opened manufacturing and logistics facilities in the Reno-Sparks area, generating jobs and growing the market of patrons for a variety of tantalizing new restaurants, breweries and other food-and-drink businesses.
Among that proliferation has come the spread of new-wave coffee ventures that are pushing the high desert city up to a new plateau of coffee quality. Incidentally, the San Franciscan Roaster Company is a proud supporter of this climb, with its headquarters located in nearby Carson City.
By DCN’s count, the number of coffee shops in and around The Biggest Little City in the World has tripled over the past decade. Here we’ve compiled a straight flush of Reno-area specialty coffee shops — both old and new in alphabetical order — that are definitely worth the visit.
This must-visit cafe has been a Reno staple since 2003 and was awarded Northern Nevada’s Best Coffee by Reno News & Review earlier this year. Owners Debbie Spieker-Martin and Paul Martin have four locations around Reno and started roasting their own beans in 2017 on a US Roaster Corp machine. Bibo has been using the same espresso blend profile for the past 16 years, sourcing many of its offerings from Josuma Coffee Company.
“We roast a core offering that we offer year-round along with seasonal varietals,” said Spieker-Martin. All of the cafes are equipped with La Marzocco GB5 espresso machines assisted by Mazzer grinders. Batch brew is available from Bunn Brewers. Dairy products from Sand Hill Dairy also support the gelato and sorbetto bar at the midtown location. Bagels are sourced from Truckee Bagel Company and pastries and provided by LA Bakery.
- 248 W 1st St. #250 (map)
Café Capello opened this past February, led by longtime coffee professional Brendan Capello, who also began roasting the cafe’s beans in May. Espresso based drinks are prepared on a La Marzocco Linea, supported by Mazzer Major grinders. Batch brew comes through a Marco system. Pastries are sourced from Rounds Bakery and food options are prepared in house in the full-service kitchen. Café Capello also works with local nonprofits, one being The Holland Project, which curates art within the cafe and assists with organizing open mics for other community groups.
Said Capello, “We’re trying to make our space as community-focused as possible.”
- 940 W Moana Ln. (map)
Coffee n’ Comics owners and Reno natives Kevin Wilfon and Alex Farside have managed to marry their business’ namesake products wonderfully.
“We wanted to open a business that catered to our love for comics and our desire to drink good coffee,” said Farside. “We’re nerds for superheroes and for coffee.”
Coffee n’ Comics uses Counter Culture Coffee, whose trainers came to Reno and to get the staff up to speed on coffee brewing extraction before a grand opening on Oct. 18. Espresso is prepared on a Slayer 2-group machine supported by a Baratza Sette 270 and a Nuova Simonelli Mythos grinder. Batch brew is made by a Wilbur Curtis and pourovers are available using Fellow’s flat-bottom drippers. There are various chai tea options with chai provided by David Rio. Round Bakery provides pastry and food options.
Naturally, comics, graphics novels and pop culture memorabilia are scattered throughout the cafe, along with several wide tables that perfectly accommodate card and board games.
Coffeebar was started in Truckee, California, in 2010 by Greg Buchheister, and it has since expanded with California locations in Menlo Park, Redwood City and Squaw Valley. In Reno, the Mt. Rose location offers a welcoming vibe with high ceilings, dim lighting and patio seating. For espresso-based drinks, the location uses La Marzocco Linea and Wilbur Curtis for batch brews. Coffee is roasted at Coffeebar’s Reno roastery on a San Franciscan SF-25. Equipped with a Modbar, the Haskell St. roastery also serves coffee flights, giving customers a chance to try the rotating menu of the rotating single-origin coffees.
“It’s about having a connection with your product,” said Kristina Tuason, marketing director at Coffeebar. “Knowing it intimately from the beginning to the end of its journey — and of making that the cornerstone on which everything we do is built.”
- 1 Lake St. (map)
The small but mighty Darkshot is a local favorite among Reno firefighters, police officers, and first responders. Owned by law enforcement consultant Scot Munns, Darkshot prides itself on serving Reno’s own Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee, led by Tim Curry. Darkshot offers hand-crafted espresso drinks and coffee in the cozy lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Reno. Espresso-based drinks are prepared on a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia and batch brew is available from a twin Bunn brewer setup. Hearty pre-made meals from Mother of Macros are available daily.
- 700 E 4th St. #A (map)
At Forged, you can have a manually brewed coffee prepared virtually any way you’d like. Founded by Kyle Oels, the small coffee bar recently opened inside Pitch Black Printing Co. in June. Oels roasts all the beans on a San Franciscan SF-25 and is in the process of restoring a Probat L12. There is a rotating menu of three to four single-origin coffees that can be brewed using a variety of manual brew methods, including Chemex, Kalita Wave, Hario V60 and Aeropress. A Wilbur Curtis Gold Cup brewer and Chemex are available for batch brewed coffee, and espresso is served from a 2-group La San Marco espresso machine in conjunction with a Baratza Sette 270Wi grinder. Nitro and sparkling cold brew are also available.
- 50 S Virginia St. (map)
This cozy cafe is located in The Basement retail complex and offers an impressive array of coffee drinks, including many sweet-tooth-slayers, such as the Saskatchewan latte with caramel, English toffee and vanilla. One of the most interesting places to enjoy a coffee in Reno, the space is elaborately decorated with comfy lighting, ornate shelving, high ceilings and cement floors. The coffee bar itself offers a large, industrial-themed co-working space equipped with turquoise loungers. The cafe shares its seating space with several other vendors inside the building, including a distillery and an art gallery. A candy-apple-red La Marzocco Linea whips up all the espresso-based drinks alongside a Fetco batch brewer for drip coffee. Coffee is provided by Drink Coffee Do Stuff out of Lake Tahoe, California, and from Collective Coffee Roasters in Elko, Nevada.
- 10 Greg St. Suite 122 (map)
Glory Cloud Coffee Roasters entered the Reno-Sparks coffee scene in late 2017. They technically do not operate a full-scale cafe, but they do welcome foot traffic into their roastery most days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Owned by Scott and Darla Coleman, Glory Cloud hosts an array of coffee- and tea-related educational classes at the roastery, where coffee is roasted daily on a San Franciscan SF-25. Glory Cloud uses a 2-group Slayer Steam for espresso drinks, and the Fellow pourover system for drip coffee.
“We’re focused on sourcing the best coffees we can and treating everyone with respect throughout the entire coffee supply chain,” said Scott. Glory Cloud is also in the process of becoming an SCA-certified training campus.
- 519 Ralston St. (map)
Homage is located in an old house nestled on the corner of Ralston and Fifth. The menu has the standard selection of coffee-based drinks and seasonal beverages, including blended beverages and teas. Espresso drinks are made on a brand new La Marzocco Linea supported by Mazzer grinders. Drip brew comes by way of a Wilbur Curtis batch brewer, and cold brew is available year-round through a Toddy system. Homage also boasts a hearty selection of delicious baked goods, with more than 70 sweet and savory options, plus light breakfast and lunch fare, created each morning by owner Nicholle Alumbaugh and her team. Roasted coffee is provided by Sacramento’s Naked Coffee and Coffee Tree Express out of Portola.
Some of the best single-origin coffees in Reno can be found inside any of Hub’s three locations. Mark Trujillo created Hub in 2009 in a shared space with Bootleg Courier, a Reno bike messenger service. An original space on Cheney St. was the size of a small garage, but it became the go-to spot for the city’s thriving cyclist community. Trujillo has since moved Hub from the shared space and opened three cafes around Reno, including an impressive roastery that houses a San Franciscan SF-25, a Loring S7, and 1974 Samiac 20-kilo machine. Each location has a different La Marzocco model at the bar for espresso drinks, with support from Mazzer Kony and Robur grinders. Mahlkönig EK43s provide grounds for batch brew on Wilbur Curtis G4 batch brewers and Baratza Forte BG grinders are used for our pourovers. Hub has a kitchen at the River Street location but currently sources pastries from House of Bread.
“We pride ourselves for bringing natural-processed, lighter roasted coffees to the Reno area back in 2009 — a huge swing from the dark roasted cowboy coffee that people were used to,” Trujillo said.
- 701 S Virginia St. (map)
Mother and daughter owners Tammy and Kayla Sisson have gone into business together to create a homey Midtown Reno cafe named after their late grandfather, Joseph Stella. The newly remodeled coffee shop offers hot and cold coffee complemented by a cozy lounge area. There is also a full food and pastry menu. Drip coffee is brewed by a Wilbur Curtis batch brewer, with a Nuova Simonelli for espresso-based drinks. There’s also a full menu of loose-leaf tea from Davidson’s Organic Teas.
Lighthouse Coffee has two locations in Sparks. Both locations serve a selection of coffee, smoothies, as well as breakfast items such as quiche, bagels, and scones. The Harbour Cove location provides a scenic view west to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Each location is equipped with siphon brewers and Hario V60s for manual brews. Fetco is available for drip coffee. A La Marzocco Linea provides espresso-based drinks at the Vista Blvd. location, while a Synesso 200 lives at the Harbour Cove location. Both shops use Mazzer grinders. Beer is also available on draft at each location for customers seeking an alternative species of buzz.
- 1715 S Wells Ave. (map)
Magpie Coffee Roasters Owner Mark Hirose began roasting in Reno 2011 before opening the Magpie roastery cafe to the public in 2015. A San Franciscan SF-25 is nestled into the rear of the space, while up front, espresso drinks are prepared on a 2-group La Marzocco Strada MP with a Mahlkönig Peak grinder. Batch brew is provided by a Curtis G4 Thermopro Twin brewer. Pourover options include V60, Chemex, and Aeropress. Cold brew is also available in bottles and on tap. Tea is available from Spirit Tea, based out of Chicago. A variety of pastries come daily from Reno bakeries, while Tuesdays through Saturdays feature a rotating menu of comfort foods like breakfast sandwiches and fried chicken made by Uncle Buddy’s.
“Magpie is a place of inclusion, collaboration, and diversity,” said Hirose. “We strive to have fun and be an approachable coffee shop.”
Old World has, hands down, the most unique offerings of any coffee menu in Reno. Daily options can range from Panama Geshas to anaerobic-fermentation-process coffees from Costa Rica. All the coffee is sourced by past barista competitor and Old World Co-Owner Chris Garrison. The California Ave. cafe is outfitted with a Modbar on a beautifully polished wood coffee bar, assisted by several Mahlkönig grinders. The cafe was recently remodeled and expanded, with wood surfaces and accents throughout. The Prototype Drive cafe also houses Old World’s Probat roaster, from which the beans flow to a La Marzocco Linea. Old World also has a third location in Carson City.
- 7689 S Virginia St. Suite E (map)
Pianissimo offers a siphon-brewed coffee along with pourovers on a Hario V60 and French Press. Its coffee is roasted by local roaster Lighthouse Coffee (featured above). Espresso is served on a beautiful off-white Elektra Crema Caffe Barlume espresso machine; a Fetco provides the batch brew; and chocolates are also served with every order. The low-key environment is enhanced by the classical music in the background, along with variety of CBD products available for purchase or as an add-on to any shot.
- 1300 S Wells Ave. (map)
Reno Coffee Company opened in September of 2018, brewing coffee roasted by Rogers Family Coffee Co. in San Francisco. The menu includes blended and single-origin coffees offered as pourover brews in custom drip cones made from old brew baskets and steel cylinders. Records for sale from a well-curated cubby may be playing throughout the day, and a rotating menu of local and domestic beers on tap offers a coffee alternative.
- 3366 Lakeside Ct. (map)
This homey cafe serves hot and cold coffee provided by Hub Coffee Roasters (featured above) throughout the day. At night, the cafe doubles as a wine and beer bar. Swill offers espresso brewed on a La Marzocco Linea and batch brew from a Wilbur Curits brewer. The lounge features a comfortable living room sitting area, complete with a piano and a fireplace heater for ambiance, as well as a large community table. The cafe hosts a wide variety of events including writing seminars, knitting get-togethers, and networking events.
The original Walden’s location on Mayberry Drive was taken over in 2012 by the Barone family, which has expanded the brand to two additional locations. The Mayberry and Wells locations are equipped with La Marzocco Lineas, and the Arlington location has a La Spaziale for espresso. Each location is stocked with Mazzer grinders and Bunn brewers for drip coffee, and all offer full food menus created in-house by chef Michael Barone featuring sandwiches, salads, breakfast burritos and more that incorporate locally sourced ingredients.
- 130 West St. (map)
This Reno-based farm-to-cup cafe and roastery is located inside the Crafted Palette, a combined restaurant, cafe and paint bar. Co-owner David Wilson spends part of the year in Antigua, Guatemala, working with the farms from which he sources much of the coffee for Vertical. Co-owner Chris Kloth can be found at the helm of the roaster and at the cafe. Vertical has regular cuppings and serves espresso-based drinks from a La Marzocco Linea supported by Mazzer Major. Batches of drip are brewed via Fetco, and in the evenings the space turns into a DIY art venue with coffee and alcohol options available.