Friday, February 13, 2015

Adventuring // Cafe 4 in Castro Valley

This kid.
All the seats!
One dark hot chocolate, for here.

Finally checking out the local, cool kid study spot...


Who: Janelly and I
Where: Cafe 4 in Castro Valley
When: Friday around 3:00 PM

The Place: After our exploration of Succiko, Janelle and I headed over to Cafe 4 to try to get some work done. Located inside the recently renovated and enclosed entryway of Neighborhood Church, its vaulted ceilings, glossed industrial floors {think Costco-esque}, and crazy amount of natural light filtering in the floor-to-ceiling windows makes this place the closest thing Castro Valley's got to a hipster hangout.

Although there are a ton of seats scattered throughout the space, they go pretty quickly-- especially the ones near electrical outlets. You've got your choice of laidback sofas, comfy armchairs, a large wooden communal table, or silver metal cafe-style seats... and a few barstools... and a piano bench. There are choices aplenty!

The coffee counter is pretty cool. They've got all the latest, shiny machinery and thingamerbobs to make the drink of your choice. The menu is written on whiteboards along the back wall {not chalkboards?!? *le gasp!*} and while not crazy, super extensive, should cover whatever craving you're having that day. If you get a little munchy, there are a few food options as well.

What We Did: Attempt to do work. We brought our computers and chargers and crossed our fingers that we could find a table near an outlet because my computer holds about five minutes of battery before it dies {it does this every two years, so... eh}.

The original plan was for me to continue my out-of-office Friday interning and for Janelle to just get some job-hunting/community-college-class-planning out of the way. With neither of us currently employed, it's nice to have someone who gets you and knows what it's like to dodge questions of "Sooo, what're you doing nowadays?" and can keep you accountable and encouraged.

Although I think one could possibly get away with not purchasing a beverage while doing work here, I feel like that's one, awkward, and two, kinda rude. So I got my usual coffee shop beverage {a hot chocolate} and Janelle got an iced latte. Her drink came in this awesome glass cylinder jar {no, not a Mason jar. this was taller and more SmartWater-esque} with one giant, perfect cube of iced coffee floating inside. Well, it could've been straight ice, but we couldn't tell for sure.

Both of our drinks were pretty good. On my ongoing, mental ranking of "Best Coffee Shop Hot Chocolate", this fell towards the upper-middle range. It was better than average, but not "ermahgherd"-amazing. And while the original plan was to do work, I think we ended up talking about everything under the sun for most of the time instead and sending links to potential jobs back and forth. So we were productive, just... not in ways we had planned.

Tips: A few suggestions...
+ If you go during busy hours {like on a Sunday when everyone's there because of church}, be forewarned that the parking lot is a one-way parking lot. As in, everyone's got to head in the same direction-- if a spot opens up in a lane you've already passed, you can't go back to claim it. Technically, this parking lot is ALWAYS a one-way parking lot, but if you're there on a weekday and there are spots everywhere, I'm guessing you can probably turn around and get that one spot over there under the tree and no one will get super mad at you.

+ The bathrooms can get a little creepy. I mean, they're super clean, very nice bathrooms {I've only got firsthand knowledge of the ladies' restroom, obvs, but I'd assume the guys' restroom is similar enough}, but if you're there in the evening and it's already dark out, the location of the bathroom isn't ideal. It's down this dimly lit hallway, with full-length windows along one entire wall, and it's dead silent since none of the ambient noise of the cafe reaches back there. Take a friend. Or at least your phone. And make it quick.

+ Most of the people at Cafe 4 are studying. Which means that if you go there to catch up with a big group of friends that you haven't seen in ages, you might want to sit outside or risk a bunch of raised eyebrows from the people around your chattering cluster of chairs. Janelle and I fell somewhere in the middle of these two categories, but I guess our conversation was at least interesting enough that the nearby eavesdroppers didn't mind too much that we were talking more than typing. Heh.

Conclusion: Fantastic place. I remember going to Neighborhood for miscellaneous school and church events as a kid, so seeing this new space was kind of weird {when did they get so cool?}, but I'm excited that it's here. Definitely going back at some point.


Cafe 4
20600 John Drive
Castro Valley, California 94546

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