- Nearby Citibank
- Nearby US Bank
Plantation Coffee's Alluring Fresh Scent of Roasted Coffee Beans
Since opening its doors 40 years ago, Plantation Coffee Roastery has been a fixture of the San Carlos community.
Wife-and-husband duo Sue and Young Cheong, both 66, have operated the coffee shop since 2000. The couple’s son, Brian Cheong, 39, began working at the shop full time in 2017.
“I think mom really makes [the regulars] feel comfortable. There’s regulars who have been coming to this shop 20+ years,” Brian Cheong said. “There’s ladies that were pregnant when they first came, and their kids are married now.”
Bigger chains like Peet’s, Philz and Starbucks have moved into the vicinity over the years, but the coffee shop’s loyal following has remained steadfast. Brian estimates that around 80% of business comes from longtime regulars, many now seniors. That’s especially notable when you consider that the shop’s coffee offerings haven’t changed much since opening day.
There are no trendy seasonal drinks or secret menus filled with colorful, syrupy concoctions. The outside of the shop is fairly nondescript, so much so that it’s easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for.
But if you’re ever strolling along Laurel Street, you’ll smell the roastery’s secret: the earthy and rich scent of freshly roasted coffee beans wafting through the air.
In the back of the store sits a classic German-made coffee grinder and roaster that was purchased by the coffee shop’s original owner in 1981. Today, Young Cheong maintains the tradition of roasting the shop’s coffee beans every morning.
“My favorite part of working at the shop is when customers compliment the coffee that I make or roast,” Young Cheong said in Korean. Young points out that large coffee franchises typically roast their beans at factories off site and that it isn’t always clear how fresh the coffee actually is.
“Roasting on premise gives the customer confidence that we actually roasted [the beans] on this day,” Brian Cheong added. “This is fresh coffee. It wasn’t roasted two or more weeks ago.”
According to Young Cheong, the shop has around 200 regular and semiregular customers whose orders Sue knows by heart. She’s even memorized the make and model of their cars in order to have their drinks ready by the time they walk in to pay.
“That’s the kind of service you don’t really see often these days,” Brian Cheong said…
From The Daily Journal
Katherine M. | Yelp
Great veggie and salmon lox bagels! Reasonable prices, nice outdoor area to sit at. Very nice staff, it’s our go to Sunday breakfast spot
James R. | Yelp
Nice people and well crafted coffee. I had a latte that delicious, stull have nonifea what was in it. Their roasted beans are very good. And they have great taste in Bagels and icrle cream. Treats for everyone.
Greg B. | Yelp
So happy to find this little spot. As they have ice cream and an espresso machine. Affogato is now on the menu. It’s not explicitly listed, but they gladly made me one. And a cute bookstore across the way, makes for a leisurely sat PM Also enjoyed the ease of parking for a downtown area
Christen D. | Yelp
This place is sooo lovely. I came here because I had just recently moved into the area and read great reviews about this shop. I will definitely be coming back every week to support such wonderful owners. I ordered the Iced Matcha Latte with Strawberries and the #2 Bagel (egg, cheese, bacon, and spinach).
My boyfriend ordered the Acai Smoothie w/ Apple Juice and said it tasted great. What stood out to me THE MOST (and this is was sold me) was that the owner came up to us while we were eating and asked for our opinion on everything.
I really liked the Matcha Latte, but I felt that the strawberries were a bit overpowering so I couldn’t really taste the matcha. And he knew that! He asked me if I honestly suggested they add more matcha to the drink because he had felt that it needed a stronger matcha to milk ratio for a while. I appreciated that with all of my heart. He said he would remember to add more matcha for me the next time I came in. My heart!
No wonder why so many people (while we were dining in) came in and out of the shop greeting the owners by name and ordering their regulars. This place knows how to keep their customers by personalizing every interaction. And for that, they have gained another customer 4life! Love!
Lance C. | Yelp
Plantation Coffee Roastery is a small coffee/ice cream shop with a variety of food, coffee and ice cream items. Me and my partner loved the mom-and-pop feel to the place, and enjoyed our bagels at 5 in the morning!
It’s a quiet place with delicious items – what else do you need? Highly recommend this local business, namely for its variety, welcoming employees, and cozy atmosphere. Thanks, Plantation Coffee!
Sofia D. | Yelp
Cosy and nice looking place. The akai bowl, and turkey sandwich were very tasty. I would definitely suggest this place. * please make sure that you not in a rush anywhere, because it takes time for them to bring the food.
Janette C. | Yelp
A modest cafe with ample seating with typical breakfast cafe menu and a selection of ground coffee. Also they have quite a selection of Mediterranean delights. I saw there were four sizes of coffee sold here instead of the usual three!!! Coffee was good, nothing extraordinary. I haven’t tried other items on the menu but yet.
On any day you’ll find people sitting in the armchairs outside the cafe sipping coffee and their pet sitting underneath the seat, some others spending time with their friends or family inside the cafe and few getting some work done. All in all, a nice cafe in the downtown of San Carlos.
Steven S. | Yelp
Super nice and welcoming. Loved the fact they have their own roaster and you can taste it. I’ve cream was delicious. Can’t wait to go back.
Lori D. | Yelp
In a world of cookie cutter coffee shops, Plantation is a unique, hometown gem. They are a local favorite, grinding their coffee fresh weekly. They also offer many teas and other frozen drinks.
Their food selection includes a variety of pastries and cookies, bagel sandwiches and a full ice cream selection. Owned by the same family for many years, everyone is greeted with a smile and treated like a regular. Give Plantation a try!
Amy S. | Yelp
Wow! Had tea, bagel sandwich and Turkey sandwich on sourdough.. so good. Not only that they also have so many flavors of the best ice cream. Will Defs come back. Seating is plenty indoor and outdoor as well. I will be back again!
Mike S. | Yelp
I’ve step foot in this coffee shop several times, and each time I’ve been greeted respectfully and treated so nice. This shop seems to have been around for quite some time. And after eating the food and meeting the staff, I totally understand why.
The coffee is delicious, ice cream is fresh, and ambiance is peaceful. The employees treat you with kindness! I highly recommend and will be coming back
David K. | Yelp
The bagel sandwiches are definitely very filling and tasty. On top of that , it goes well with the iced coffee I usually order. The staff at the shop puts a lot of emphasis on the quality and service. Every time I come I am greeted like family and they provide exceptional service. I definitely would recommend this place. Not to forget they got some of that Marianne’s ice cream for a nice hot sunny day.
S S. | Yelp
Can’t say much about the coffee but I had the best bagel sandwich of my life here! All of their options are so unique and delicious! My sandwich was crispy and warm and filled with creamy avocado, acidic tomato, and rich, savory pesto. Definitely check it out if you’re near downtown San Carlos!!!
Eva H. | Yelp
Wonderful little coffee shop with ice cream, açaí bowls, bagels, etc. Everything I’ve had is great but what I love most is that this isn’t a hipster, pretentious coffee shop but a very down to earth family owned place. The owners are polite if you are polite to them. I highly recommend!
Juliana P. | Yelp
I stopped by here a couple times this week, initially bc the Starbucks nearby were temporarily closed but I was so glad to find this gem. For whatever reason, the map takes you to the back entrance and I’ve noticed that people also hangout there and form a circle with chairs. Not sure if they were guests of the café or the shop next door though.
The place is a mom-and-pop shop with great assortment of items, including ice cream! The couple were friendly and seem to be very hard working. It was nice to connect as a fellow Korean too. The coffee and pastry aren’t amazing tbh but the space is really good for working/studying or just catching up with friends. It felt really welcoming and is well-lit.
Good outlets and fast Wi-Fi connection. I was able to focus really well. I think the coffee is a bit too dark for my taste. I’d recommend some lighter roasts. I also think they’d benefit by partnering with a baker (instead of an ice cream shop) but that’s my personal take. Definitely will be back!
Jackie P. | Yelp
Cute shop with nice staff! I got their iced coffee and a bagel. Their coffee was delicious and deep and the bagel was hot and so nice to eat in their outdoor seating. There’s free wifi and I stayed for a couple hours working – next time will get their ice cream which looked good
Ignacio L. | Yelp
Best coffee in town. I head here first for the fresh roasted, grounded and brewed coffee the owner specializes in. The also have great breakfast bagel sandwiches, as well as ice cream for the kids. I come by a couple times of week and work from here with their free wifi. Stop by for a fresh come of java.
Trisha D. | Yelp
Owners live in our town. Love to support locally owned business. Better coffee than Starbucks or Peets. Love to get my coffee ice-cream cone. Nice couple who have owned this place for many years. Super friendly.
Susan Y. | Yelp
Mom and pop coffee shop that roasts their own beans! This place can be easily missed if walking by but is pretty spacious inside. Half cafe and half ice cream shop. Husband got an iced vanilla latte and I got an iced strawberry matcha latte. Both were good! Nice to see they offered strawberry matcha since I’m currently not drinking coffee. The younger guy working was really nice!
Liliana N. | Yelp
The sweet woman who runs this shop is incredible. The shop has a Hawaiian/Santa Cruz feel to it. All the drinks are homemade and you can tell she truly puts her heart into them.
I got the Kona Mocha with soy milk and it was delicious and refreshing! Parking usually fills up in this area so be sure to find a spot and snag it. They also serve Marianne’s ice cream here which is a surprise! Saves you a trip to Santa Cruz.
wilfred francis Albovias | Google
In all of downtown San Carlos, there are about a few places that sell coffee and ice cream, but there is only one place that serves both! I really admire the fact that the owners get up really early and start roasting their own beans on the premises. It’s one of the few special places in San Carlos that I can get freshly roasted coffee beans.
On the ice cream side, they serve Marianne’s ice cream straight out of Santa Cruz. Any alumni of UCSC will tell you that this is the best ice cream in that area. Once again you don’t get a lot of vocal creameries anymore and it’s one of the few where you can get it by the scoop or prepacked to take home! While I am a big fan of Mitchell’s ice cream, I don’t have to drive to San Francisco to get a good quality pint.
Gregory Robertson | Google
I love this place. I’ve been here a handful of times over the years while in town visiting family. A great spot to sit down and drink a coffee with a friend. Their scones and breakfast sandwiches are delicious. I love that it’s a local, family run coffee shop.
Karan Bhansali | Google
Excellent place to start your morning off – they’re located in downtown San Carlos and have a large place with outdoor and indoor seating. Their menu has a lot of coffee and breakfast food to choose from.
Madhura Vaivade | Google
Ahh the smell of coffee as you enter!!! If I could, I’d go to this place just to smell the fragrance of freshly ground coffee everyday. The place was clean, has a huge variety of items on their menu, and takes required Covid-19 precautions.
I got a cafe mocha and the savory Columbian cheese bun, which the owner warmed for me. Both were delicious, especially, they went well together on a cold winter evening.
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