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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

West Oakland's Trouble Coffee: Still Gleaming White, One Year In

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Cinnamon toast a la Trouble West Oakland - A. K. CARROLL
  • A. K. Carroll
  • Cinnamon toast a la Trouble West Oakland
Nearly one year after Giulietta Carrelli opened her third Trouble Coffee on a nondescript street corner off of 16th and Willow streets in West Oakland, I finally tried the $4 toast that starting making headlines in 2014. The place was quiet: dead quiet.

“Are you working today?” the barista asked, making me wonder how often she gets a customer at 11 a.m. on a Monday. I would have returned the question, but it seemed a foolish thing to ask the woman who was buttering my toast.

click to enlarge Cinnamon toast a la the original Trouble - A. K. CARROLL
  • A. K. Carroll
  • Cinnamon toast a la the original Trouble
click to enlarge A. K. CARROLL
  • A. K. Carroll
In contrast to the original Trouble, located in the Outer Sunset, which is a lively little hole-in-the-wall most easily identified by the scent of cinnamon sugar, the line out the door and the toast-noshing customers draped across the drift wood benches facing, Trouble's most recent outpost is cold and clinical in all its stark white glory. It's the sort of place you’d rather get your coffee to go, even though there’s room to stay.

Granted, it was 11 a.m. on a Monday, but I don't imagine the queue ever gets too terribly during a weekday, even though this Trouble offers the same simple menu of coffee, tea, espresso, coconut, toast and Yoko Ono (grapefruit juice) as its flagship location. Though Trouble's ban on electronic devices would seem to foster convivial conversation among friends and strangers alike, it's a little hard to get all cozy in a space that's reminiscent of a surgical theater. The comforting smell of double-toasted brioche slathered with butter and heaped with cinnamon sugar did little to counter the ambiance (though it did wonders in solving my sugar craving). 

I took a seat at the counter, staying for all of 90 second before taking my toast outside where at least the foliage across the street provided a little color. You can do these things in Oakland, where the climate tends to be more favorable, even when the coffee outposts aren't.

Trouble Coffee: 1545 Willow St, Oakland

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A. K. Carroll

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