With a population of only 18, this cafe, located in California’s Central Coast, serves a delicious espresso, with a bit of Italian charm. Thanks to Joseph Matye, a coffee enthusiast and creator of KoffeeStain.com, for this week’s coffee cafe review.
This is the cafe seekers dream!
I just started traveling south from Cambria and it was going to be a long day of driving. I had already run on the beach in the early morning fog and gone into town for my first espresso of the day at the French Corner Bakery, went back to the hotel and packed up.
Yes, it had only been a few hours but I was already thinking about my “late morning espresso” when we pulled on the highway. Harmony is only about four miles south of Cambria and I had never taken the time to stop, so we pulled in to take a “real quick look.” I was not expecting much and certainly not an espresso bar at all. Maybe a gift shop with some wind chimes. But there it was! All that greeted me after I discovered that there might be some hope was a small chalk board sign positioned next to a cat whoseemed to know what I was about to discover.
It simply said “Harmony Cafe”. As I peered around the doorway and into the café, still absorbing the surroundings, I spied the espresso maker and the big chalkboard cafe menu!
Here on the Central Coast is this hidden jewel. Do not expect chrome and glass. This is a cafe chiseled into an old building where history has come and gone. But Giovanni is waiting for his customers with a warm smile and bright eyes. This is one of those places that makes you feel like you have a secret once you have been there. You will want to tell somebody about it but you will choose only the right person who will appreciate it.
Giovanni adjusts the grind of the coffee beans as the humidity changes. He will only pull one shot into an espresso cup because that is the “right” way. I asked for a double macchiato and got two cups! I thought he misunderstood me at first until he explained. I felt under educated about espresso and let him guide me through. I then ordered a straight espresso just to taste the pure organic beans from a local roaster. Wow! I will be back.
While motorists are whizzing by on Highway 1 just a hundred yards or so from “Downtown” Harmony, the day is getting started, just a little slower. The owner of Harmony Cafe has found his peace here. After living in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, Harmony is like his heaven on earth. Call him Chef Giovanni, because he is a chef as well as a coffee expert. (I wish I had time to try his food.) Ask him about Italy or how he prepares his coffee, he will gladly share with you. This is not your average tourist trap cafe. Why? Because Giovanni has not created this place for you or me, he has done it for himself. This is what he loves to do. It reminds him of his past and some of the things he loves. This then gets passed on to us, the benefactors of his love, his customers.
Also take a few minutes to soak up Harmony itself. This place mattered in California’s history. Let it be a part of you if only for a moment. Maybe spend some of your trip money here rather than at a large chain, and check out some of the other shops, as well as the original post office building. Chances are, you will leave here with your heart a little lighter.
Joseph Matye, creator of KoffeeStain.com, is a coffee enthusiast sharing the results of the trek through his personal coffee evolution. Joseph loves to visit great cafes, learn more about coffee and document his experiences for others. He calls it, “Espresso Driven Experiences”.