BY JORDI FAXON
In the middle of the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center, a coffee shop and smoothie bar has taken the Carmel community by storm, offering a lively atmosphere to mingle and snack.
Coffee Bank got its name from the building’s history: a bank used to occupy that corner, remnants of which have been left in place to add to the curiously jubilant milieu. In fact, one of the bank vaults will be used as a wine bar.
“The [Carmel Rancho] Shopping Center owner wanted to open up a nice coffee shop and have a little of music and jazz with it,” says Coffee Bank manager Roger Dickens, “so that’s how we came to do this and that’s how we started it.”
This cafe hit the ground running, so to speak: right on the first day, the small and cozy room was bustling with coffee orders. It found regular customers in the youth of the Carmel, who were attracted to the accessibility of this locally owned coffee shop, as well as a huge following from Carmel Middle School students, who can walk to the coffee shop after school. The Coffee Bank manager also mentions that dancers from the Dance Center make up a large part of the customer population.
The Coffee Bank also appeals to the Cycle Bar patrons next door, a cycling workout center, which brings a lot of customers looking for a nice post-workout smoothie.
Even though there are many coffee shops already on the Peninsula, what makes Coffee Bank special is the dynamic mixture of various worlds of gastronomy, including not only the implied coffee, but also pastries, paninis and—wait for this—açaí bowls. They also provide musical entertainment, having jazz groups perform both inside the coffee shop and outside on their quaint, little patio.
The coffee grounds they use are 100 percent Kona Coffee from Hawaii, and they offer several options for milk, not just dairy milk, but also almond milk, soy milk and even oat milk.
“I got an iced coffee with almond milk in it,” says CHS senior Madi DiGirolamo. “I think it’s pretty good…definitely better than Starbucks, which I’d say is pretty much our only other option.”
The açaí bowls are often praised for their usage of natural sweeteners, using dates instead of artificial sugar.
So far, Dickens is happy with the reception that the new coffee shop has earned and is proud of the successes that Coffee Bank has had, noting that he has a larger fan base than most small businesses have so early in their existence.
“The place is doing really well,” says Dickens. “The response is great. Our reviews on Yelp and everywhere else are five stars. This place has been serving over 200 people a day, which is pretty good for a little business.”
Business hours are from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. There is an upcoming performance by the Carol Frazier Band at the Coffee Bank’s grand opening on May 18.
Visit the Coffee Bank website, www.coffeebankcafe.com, to look for more information, including their menu, contact information and happy hour specials.