Long before Oakland (aka "The Town") was a hipster destination teeming with endless cafes offering good quality coffee, there was the North Oakland coffee spot known as Royal Coffee, and in more recent years known as Cole Coffee. In 1987, Royal Coffee, which morphed into Cole Coffee in 2005, first opened on 63rd Street near College Avenue in North Oakland near the Berkeley border. Offering strong, quality, affordable coffee with no pretensions and located just half a block down from La Farine bakery, it immediately built a loyal following. Even the recent era influx of new Oakland cafes similarly offering choices of quality coffees and teas has not affected the College & 63rd Street business one bit. This is because Cole, nee Royal, is as much of a social gathering point as it is a place to buy a good cuppa joe.
When Cole Coffee's owner Michael Murphy purchased the business from Royal Coffee six years ago, changing the name to Cole Coffee at the time, he was already quite familiar with the business and its loyal clientele. "I managed Royal Coffee from 1992 until I puchased the business in 2005," he told me. He recalled how back when he started managing the business that, "Royal only had the 63rd Street location and then opened the cafe in 1995." Cole Coffee is one business split into two locations that are side by side. At the front cafe part (corner of 63rd & College) you can sit down inside or outside and specialty coffees are custom made on drip in front of you. Then the Cole Coffee shop round the corner down a bit on 63rd (with an apartment door entrance separating the two) is where you can buy coffee by the pound to go and cups of the reliably strong roasted and tasty house coffee. About a dozen small round green cafe tables line the outside on 63rd and snake up around onto College.