Just got back from a near three week road trip along the Californian coast – from near the Mexican border up to San Francisco and the Napa Valley. I’ll be posting our food adventures over the coming weeks but wanted to start with this great coffee roaster and cafe in Santa Barbara. Handlebar Coffee Roasters was started by cycling enthusiasts and on the Sunday we visited was packed with nice people, lots of Lycra and lots of high end cycles. Our two beach cruisers borrowed from our hotel looked pretty out of character with all the lightweight rims and the click of cleats on the side walk.
The coffee is made with love and everything seemed to be roasted on the premises in this micro-roastery, using what looked like a newish Probat roaster. While I was there I chatted to Aaron about how they were doing and snapped a picture for my files. He was just completing a fresh batch – sampling the coffee every 30 seconds at the final stage of the roast. I brought back a bag of their Guatamalean ‘Bella Carmiona’ – which tastes as full of cocoa and cream as my favourite Las Pilas from Monmouth here in London.
It’s really worth checking out if ever you pass through this lovely town. We were last here about 20 years ago – and it’s certainly younger, livelier and full of great (and not so great) bars and restaurants. The French Press used to be the great coffee place in SB, and while it looked lively Handlebar seemed a lot more loving and passionate about what they were doing. But I’m sure a little bit of competition helps everyone.