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How many cups of coffee a day did Balzac drink? Coffeehouses have become the bars of the liquor-leery '90s. Cafe society lingers over intense brews well into the midnight hour, with no worries whatsoever about picking a designated driver. Everybody wants a turn at the wheel after two or three double lattes.

Barnes and Noble
3600 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose (408/984-3495)
A jittery bookworm's dream come true. The cafe-in-the-round is surrounded by the large bookstore, but patrons needn't stare longingly at the shelves around them. Drinks are welcome in any section. And if you can't find your book, the coffee by Starbucks is always worth the trip. Open Sunday­Thursday, 9am­11pm; Friday­Saturday to midnight. Live music: Friday nights in the music section.

Barnes and Noble
The PruneYard, 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell (408/559­8101)
Famous authors--from Trollope to Chandler--stare a bit accusingly from the mural at this bookstore cafe. Why aren't you working on your novel instead of dawdling over an espresso? Certainly, a surfeit of examples ripe for creative plagiarism, er, make that borrowing, await in the immense attached Barnes and Noble outlet. The hardwood floor looks well-tended by an army of buffers, and there is outdoor seating as well if the air conditioning is working overtime. In addition to the expected range of espresso combinations (made with Starbucks beans), the cafe also serves soup and salad lunches in the $5­$6 range. Open daily, 9am­11pm.

Bay City Coffee Roasting
632 San Antonio Rd., Mountain View (415/941-9955)
Bay City lurks in an unassuming strip mall and takes its cue from the large Tower Music, Video and Books store next door. Tower's open until midnight, and so is Bay City. The patrons of both overlap. Bay City definitely has the spirit of a rock & roll cafe, although the weekly live entertainment is of a more acoustic bent. Nonetheless, kids, punks, shoppers and music lovers of all ages gather here for a cuppa joe, and the crowd frequently spills over the patio onto the sidewalk on weekend nights. Open daily, 6am­midnight.

The Bean Scene
186 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale (408/738-4523)
The coffee stop for downtown Sunnyvale. Business types enjoy a full espresso bar, lunch menu, teas, Nantucket Nectar juices and bottled beer. Conveniently located on the way back to the car from several restaurants. Smoking permitted outdoors. Cash/checks; free parking. Open Monday­Wednesday, 6:30am­10pm; Thursday­Friday, 6:30am-11pm; Saturday, 8am­11pm; Sunday, 8am­7pm. Live music on the weekends, usually classic rock and jazz.

Blue Rock Shoot
14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/741-5180)
Arts and Crafts­style furnishings, philosophy club meetings, historic building--this place is perfect for downtown Saratoga. Both the cafe and the Saratoga Book Market below cater to the young and hip. Plenty of patios allow views of the mountain scenery. The cafe offers pizza, salads, beer and wine. Open 7am­10pm; Friday­Saturday to 11pm. Live folk and jazz on the weekends.

Blvd. Coffee
15466 Los Gatos Blvd., Los Gatos (408/356-4665)
Although this narrow but airy shop has a rather unoriginal name, its edibles and drinkables make up for it. Daring customers can sample specialty drinks like "The Speeding Ticket," opt for standard espresso fare or try some fruit freezes. The accompanying munchies include pastries, cookies and decadent treats like chocolate cheesecake brownie squares. Artwork hangs on the walls, and counter seating and two couches give visitors an opportunity to do just that--visit--while enjoying a taste of the Boulevard. Open 6:30am­7:30pm Monday­Friday; 6:30am­6pm on Saturday; 8:30am­2:30pm on Sunday.

Borders Books, Music and Cafe
15 Ranch Dr., Milpitas (408/934-1180)
A good selection of books, music and videos complements a full espresso bar. Occasional guest authors and children's events are scheduled. Menu features freezes, Italian and French sodas, chai, teas. Open Monday­Saturday, 9am­11pm; Sunday, 9am­9pm. Live music on weekend evenings.

Borders Books, Music and Cafe
456 University Ave., Palo Alto (415/326-3670)
Anyone looking for reading material can get a cup of coffee here before, after or while they find it. "Borders Own" coffee beans are roasted off the premises and brought in for bookstore consumption. Drinks with lids are welcome in the shelves, and there are plenty of seats for browsers throughout the store. Live entertainment varies from performers to authors. No smoking; street parking. Open Monday­Saturday, 9am­11pm; Sunday, 9am­9pm.

Cafe Adzia
6174 Bollinger Rd., San Jose (408/257-3444)
Shopping center coffeehouse for the grocery store crowd. Regulars are students and young families from nearby residential neighborhoods. Freezes, smoothies, iced coffees. Beans by Capricorn. Smoking (outdoors). Cash/checks. Open Monday­Friday, 6am­9pm; Saturday, 7am­9pm; Sunday 8am­6pm.

Cafe Aroma
3488 El Camino Real, Santa Clara (408/985-9555)
Busy in the mornings and at lunch but much more leisurely in the afternoons and evenings. Cafe Aroma serves gourmet sandwiches to go with its full espresso bar. The most popular items are the chicken breast sandwich and the mocha. The beans are by Connoisseur. Open Monday­Saturday, 7am­9pm; Sunday, 8am­3pm.

Café Borrone
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (415/327-0830)
Next door to Kepler's, Café Borrone caters to the reading set. There's lots of outdoor seating, and the coffee drinks can be supplemented with smoothies and even beer and wine. The beans are from Illy. Open Monday­Thursday, 7am­11pm; Friday to midnight; Saturday, 8am­midnight; Sunday, 8am-5pm.

Cafe Europa
171 Branham Lane, San Jose (408/226-6654)
A little bit of everything, from ice cream to homemade falafels, makes this cafe popular. Full deli menu, pastries baked fresh daily, smoothies, shakes, teas, full espresso bar. Live entertainment coming this summer. Cash/checks. Open daily, 6:30am­9:30pm.

Café Italia
5353 Almaden Expwy., San Jose (408/264-0223)
Shoppers in the Almaden Plaza on Blossom Hill Road frequent this small corner cafe. The average age of patrons is almost 40--this is not a student hangout. There are tables outside, limited seating indoors. Beans by Mountanos Bros. Cash only. Open Monday­Friday, 7am­9pm; Saturday, 7am­10pm; Sunday, 8am­6pm.

Cafe Leviticus
1445 The Alameda, San Jose (408/279-8877)
Having been a bank in its former incarnation gives Cafe Leviticus an elegant, slightly pretentious, almost saintly air. Perhaps that's why the South Bay net.goths (from the Usenet group alt.gothic) have staged so many of their F2F (face-to-face) meetings here. But it's the proximity of the Towne Theater that cuts through the potential gloom and gives this cafe much of its bustling atmosphere. After taking in an art film, movie buffs can step a few feet to the left for Leviticus' fat bowls of cappuccino and a vegan pastry (no animal lards, though many soybeans died for our sins). The spacious marble and wood interior is also host to twice-monthly live music shows, occasional poetry readings and even a few futuristic fashion shows. Open daily, 7am­midnight.

Cafe Matisse
371 S. First St., San Jose (408/298-7788)
Quite possibly the quintessential downtown hangout, Cafe Matisse has a few years on it, just enough to qualify as an institution. Matisse enjoys an ideal location, sharing a fish-tank wall with the d.p. fong Art Gallery and Wine Bar, across the street from Camera One and within a block or so of half a dozen nightclubs and lounges. SoFA regulars get their caffeine fix here before stalking the strip for dancing, dishing and more than a little fashionable exhibitionism. By day, it's the chess-playing, book-toting students (along with a liberal dusting of professionals and street punks) who give Matisse a classic coffeehouse atmosphere. Open Sunday­Thursday, 7:30am­midnight; Friday­Saturday, 8am­2am; Sunday, 9am­midnight.

Cafe Quinn
21269 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino (408/252-2233)
With its outdoor seating area in the shade of one of the Oaks Center's signature trees, this upscale cafe is a great spot to spend a summer afternoon. Pets are welcome outside after a romp at nearby Memorial Park. Unique sandwiches and entrees go well with espresso drinks, shakes, smoothies, beer and wine. Open Sunday­Wednesday, 8am­9pm; Thursday­Saturday, 8am­10pm.

Café Rouge
42 Elm St., Los Gatos (408/395-1599)
The unassuming shop on an unassuming side street in downtown Los Gatos has something for almost every taste--and that goes for more than just the coffee, tea, chai, fruit frappés, pastries and sandwiches. While feasting their throats on hot or iced java specialties, patrons can feast their eyes on the unusual paintings and mixed-media art that adorn the Cafe's walls. Bookworms can bury their noses in the hundreds of volumes stashed on shelves next to the tables and sofas, while aspiring and established poets alike can share their works at the monthly poetry readings. Open Monday­Saturday, 8am­11pm; Sunday till 6.

Caffé Verona
236 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto (415/326-9942)
An institution to regulars, just a solid Mediterranean cafe to the rest of us. Verona boasts a full food menu, foreign bottled beer and good wine. Live music on special occasions. Iced coffees, teas, chai, fresh squeezed O.J., beans by Graffeo. Open Monday­Thursday, 7am­11pm; Friday till midnight; Sunday, 8am­3pm.

Caffé Zucco
74 S. First St., San Jose (408/297-9777)
Caffe Zucco is more of a bistro than a cafe, but it's a very elegant, lively bistro. Sandwiches, salads and soups make this a popular lunch spot as well as the perfect place for a light dinner. The main area is sleek, modern and colorful, and the faux wall finishes add a zesty texture that seems inspired by the wide range of exotic smoothies made here--everything from chunky oreo-cookie blends to slick wheatgrass shots. Zucco actually can be a delightful hangout, once visitors discover the upstairs loft with its sink-into couches and entrancing waterfall. But the few regulars probably don't want this secret hiding place spoiled by a teeming throng.

Camera 3 Cafe
288 S. Second St., San Jose (408/998-0932)
The crowd and the conversation depend on what movies are showing at the attached three-screen theater. Imported beer, wine and champagne are for cafe consumption only, so sit around the espresso bar and try not to ruin the plot for anyone else. Free validated parking. Open Monday­Friday, 7:30am­10pm; Saturday­Sunday, 9:30am­10pm. Live music: Thursday nights, starting July 10, runs for nine weeks.

Campbell Roasting Co.
1875 S. Bascom Ave., #112, Campbell (408/559-8040)
Embedded in the Pruneyard, next to the theater complex, Campbell Roasting Co. is blessed with a large shaded patio area. A busy morning crowd circulates rapidly, ordering the coffee basics plus bagels and other on-the-run noshes. Sandwiches, soups and salads go for about $5. As local-comedian-turned-movie-star Kevin Pollak says (in his autographed photo), "Thanks for the great joe." Open Sunday­Thursday, 6:30am­11pm; Friday­Saturday till midnight.

Casa Vicky
792 E. Julian St., San Jose (408/995-5488)
A spotless, airy refuge from corner liquor stores and weedy lawns, decorated with wreaths of dried flowers, garlic and chiles, stenciled archways and the work of local Chicano artists. In addition to pan dulce, fresh tortillas and soothing weekend menudo, this café/ bakery/restaurant features cafe de olla, Mexican chocolate and cooling aguas frescas; one free refill with house coffee from Mr. Espresso. Front-room bustle, a clanking tortilla press and sizzling rotisseried pollos obscure the saccharine pop music that threatens the tranquillity. After 5pm, weary workers stop for take-home or beer, wine or margaritas on the patio. Open daily, 7am­10pm.

City Espresso
632 E. Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose (408/972-4500)
Where the IBM computer crowd goes to get a buzz during the day and students dominate by night. The beans are by Mountanos Bros. Live classical music on occasion. Open Sunday­Thursday, 6:30am­10:30pm; Friday­Saturday, 6:30am­11pm.

City Espresso
1820B W. Campbell Ave., San Jose (408/370-1477)
The morning working crowd grows more varied as happy hour (1­4pm, coffee drinks half price) approaches; the night is reserved for students. The staff is young but not outrageous; the live music won't rock the house too much. New on the drink menu this summer: smoothies. Mountanos Bros. provides the beans. Open Monday­Thursday 6:30am­10:30pm; Friday­Saturday, 6:30am­11:30pm; Sunday, 7:30am­10:30pm. Live music, Thursday­Saturday.

City Lights
Homestead Road and Jackson Street, Santa Clara (408/296-0415)
Upper-crust yuppie clientele, business crowd in the morning, students at night show up for the full espresso bar (beans by Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co.), smoothies, Odwalla juices. Open Tuesday­Thursday, 6am­11pm; Friday, 6:30am­midnight; Saturday, 7am­midnight; Sunday, 9am­9pm. Live music is booked Fridays through Sundays, usually guitar soloists.

Coffee Factory
3787 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara (408/296-7600)
Athletic types add to the common mix of business and student crowds. Italian sodas, teas, full espresso bar, with beans roasted in-house daily. Open Monday­Friday, 6am­10pm; Saturday­Sunday, 7am­10pm.

Coffee Society
Oaks Shopping Center, 21265 Stevens Creek Blvd., #202, Cupertino (408/725-8091)
This is one aptly named cafe--a whole miniculture revolves around the caffeinated beverages at this outdoor mall's coffeehouse. De Anza College students in search of relaxation cross the street to join laptop-toting writers, random high-schoolers, serious readers and meandering couples in the java-fueled haze that hangs between the glass walls. Coffee Society manages to serve up high-strung drinks yet maintain a calm, relaxing atmosphere. The laid-back, introspective crowd comes here for discussion, contemplation, meditation and old-fashioned bull-slinging, along with live jazz on Friday nights. Open Monday­Friday, 6am­11pm; Saturday, 7am­midnight; Sunday, 7am­11pm.

Coletta's Coffee
649 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas (408/263-5814)
Small restaurant/cafe attracts the business crowd with a variety of sandwiches. Farmers Market browsers stop by Wednesday afternoons. Italian sodas, bottled juices, smoothies. Beans by Vigal. Open Monday­Thursday, 7am­11pm; Friday to midnight; Sunday, 8am­3pm. Live music, mostly acoustic jazz and classic rock on weekend evenings.

Cuppa Joe
194 Castro St., Mountain View (415/967-2294)
Groups are notoriously difficult to fit into coffeehouses, but Cuppa Joe has two big tables to accommodate crowds of eight or 10. There's as much live music as the owner can book. Milkshakes, granitas, bottled microbrews and wines by the glass; beans by Peter James. Open Monday­Friday, 8am­11pm; Friday­Saturday till midnight. Live music can be heard weekend nights; there's also an open-mic session on Thursdays; Celtic music and fiddlers show up Sunday­Monday.

Dolce Spazio
221 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-1335)
Los Gatans' favorite "sweet space" (that's what Dolce Spazio means in Italian) is known best for its homemade gelato, but its espresso bar is definitely nothing to sneeze at either--unless someone gets carried away with the nutmeg. Dolce's house blend of mocha java and dark French roast turns up in all the traditional espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, as well as in offerings like the Caffe Gatto and the Valencia. There's plenty for noncoffee drinkers too, including 24 flavors of Italian sodas, fruit smoothies, the Chocolate Fantasia and the Mela Dolce (hot cider cooled over vanilla gelato topped with whipped cream, cinnamon and grated orange peel). Open daily at 7am; closes Friday­Saturday at 11:30pm, Monday­Thursday at 11pm, Sunday at 10pm.

Gilroy Coffee Roasting Co.
7501 Monterey Road, Gilroy (408/847-5120)
Mixed clientele mingles at bars and tables. The cafe serves mostly desserts to go with Italian sodas, frozen drinks and the daily coffee fix. The beans are roasted right there. Open Monday­Thursday, 5am­10pm; Friday till 11pm; Saturday, 6am­11pm; Sunday, 7am­8pm. Live music is booked on the weekends.

Great Bear Coffee Los Osos Cafe
19 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-8607)
In space and variety, this is the second largest of all of Los Gatos' coffeehouses, and just like the No. 2 U.S. car rental chain, Great Bear does try harder. As the Los Osos Cafe, the shop offers a full breakfast menu from 6am to 2pm daily, and sandwiches, salads and pizzas from 11am to 11pm. As the Great Bear, it features a full espresso bar along with alternatives like chai and herbal tea drinks. Dozens of fresh whole coffee beans teem from dispensers. This is also the place to go for a killer chocolate milkshake.

Intermission Cafe
11647 Lincoln Ave., San Jose (408/286-7888)
Complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menus set this cafe apart from pastry-serving coffeehouses. Steaks, salads and sandwiches are featured items. Full espresso bar with beans roasted in-house. Occasional live entertainment isn't run of the mill--look for belly dancers in June. Open Monday­Thursday, 7am­10pm; Saturday­Sunday to 11pm.

International Coffee Exchange
14471 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/741-1185)
International is the right word, from the patrons to the menu. All ages and races visit for the falafels and fresh roasted beans. Coffee drinks are available iced, along with specialty freezes and teas. Live music takes over Fridays and Saturdays. Open Monday, 6:30am­8pm; Tuesday­Thursday, 6:30am­9pm; Friday­Saturday, 6:30am­11pm; Sunday, 6:30am­9pm.

Java Spot
Coffee Fountain: At the '50s-style Java Spot, espresso coexists with
malts and floats.

Java Spot
5899 Santa Teresa Blvd., #109, San Jose (408/281-2220)
This month-old cafe is a throwback to the '50s in decor and menu. Where else do malts, floats, lattes and mochas coexist? Put a quarter in the jukebox and lounge in the couch corner. As for the crowd, it's too early to tell--regulars apply in person. Beans from Mountanos Bros.. Open Monday­Wednesday, 6am­10pm; Friday, 7am­11pm; Saturday, 6am­11pm; Sunday, 7am­9pm.

Jazzy Java
5643 Cottle Rd., San Jose (408/629-2922)
Bringing much-needed caffeine and camaraderie to the far southern reaches of San Jose, Jazzy Java caters to IBM denizens (it's across the street from Big Blue) and other local starched-collar workers. Amenities include a couch, lending library, beer and wine, and--just starting this weekend--live blues music. Open Monday­Thursday, 6am­7pm; Friday, 6am­9pm; Saturday, 7am­9pm; and Sunday, 7am­3pm.

Jumpin Java
744 E. Dana St., Mountain View (415/390-9638)
Older clientele, business types, but a friendly young staff. Teas and juices are served, along with coffee. Open Monday­Thursday, 6:30am­10pm; Friday till 11pm; Saturday, 8am­11pm; Sunday, 8am­6pm. Live music is featured Fridays and Saturdays.

Keystone Coffee
321 S. First St., San Jose (408/292-4698)
Victoriana and historical photos are juxtaposed with Formica-topped tables and a wide-screen TV, a mix of old and new that extends to the clientele. Comfortable for everyone except, perhaps, recent parolees--this place is apparently on every downtown cop's beat. Keystone provides that sorely needed break for a stream of glazed conventioneers, with beans roasted at their Union City warehouse. T-shirted cafetistas dispense baked goods and salads with disinterested dispatch; sundry drinks line self-serve refrigerated cases. Opens 7am daily; on the weekends, closing time extended by an hour to 11pm.

434 S. First St., San Jose (408/292-6211)
This relaxed artists' hangout keeps the heart of SoFA pumping. Early-morning coffee-bar regulars schmooze in the minimalist techno-chic warehouse or at streetside iron tables, tanking up on liquid vitamins a la Odwalla or go-juice from Mr. Wright's Amazing Coffee Factory. Lunch-time offerings split 50:50 between carnivores and those who'll only taste blood during a tongue piercing. After dark, performers of all stripes jam the Tuesday open-mic and a Thursday DJ scene dubbed the Edgy Side of Cool. As in cutting edge, not attitude--a more benevolent bunch of bohos would be hard to find. Chai, of course, and Brewmasters on tap. Opening at 7am weekdays, 10am weekends, Kismet grooves till midnight Monday­Wednesday and Sundays, an urbane 3am Thursday­Saturday.

Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co.
101 W. Main St., Los Gatos (408/354-3263)
Like kids in a candy store, java junkies can't resist Los Gatos' largest coffeehouse and the dozens of bean varieties roasted on the premises. The Roasting Co. has enough espresso-bar variety to give France and Italy runs for their money. There are also many specialty drinks, including frappés combining mochas and tropical fruit, while pastry cases and counter displays ensure no one need drink without eating sweets. Open till 11pm on weekends.

Mission City Coffee Roasting
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara (408/261-2221)
Mission City roasts its own beans on the premises, a brick warehouse with an Arts and Crafts flavor. Popular with students and staff from nearby Santa Clara University and neighborhood residents wielding their frequent buyers' cards, who ostensibly can avoid jockeying for a space in the tiny parking lot. A nice selection of teas, juices, beer and wine is available for those not inclined to catch a caffeine buzz. Open 6am­11pm four out of seven days; till midnight Thursday­Saturday.

Morgan Hill Coffee Roasting
Monterey Road and Second Street, Morgan Hill (408/778-2586)
Even high schoolers need a cup of coffee to wake up these days, and they get it here. Business types congregate in the afternoon, but it's back to the underage set at night. As the name implies, they roast their own beans. Open Monday­Thursday, 5am­10:30pm; Friday­Saturday to midnight; Sunday to 9pm.

Moulin Rouge Coffee Roasting
628 Town and Country Village, Stevens Creek and South Winchester boulevards, San Jose (408/247-4611)
The closest coffee shop to Valley Fair offers good, fresh-roasted stimulus. The crowd vacillates from students and business people to shoppers and moviegoers trying to stay awake through the late show. Open Monday­Thursday, 6am­10pm; Friday­Saturday to 11pm.

Mountain View City Cyber Cafe
City Center Bldg., 650 Castro St., Mountain View (415/964-3707)
Surf the Web, sip a latte--how very '90s. Forget cigar clubs, this is the wave of the future. Internet access costs $5 an hour, email accounts are $5 a month. Inside seating is limited, but the outside patio is comfortable in good weather. Live entertainment is planned for the summer. Teas, chai, smoothies, beans by Peter James. Open Monday­Friday, 7am­9pm; Friday­Saturday, 8am­10pm; Sunday, 8am­9pm.

Orchard Valley Coffee Roasting
349 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell (408/374-2115)
For anyone who thought this was the dry cleaners, plenty of burlap coffee-bean sacks strewn about the floor give the game away. The on-site roasted beans are backed up by gelato, juices and a variety of lunch-sized salads. Lots of free newspapers, flower arrangements, bench and table seating (only one table on the sidewalk, though), a fireplace and a bike rack make this an inviting, if a bit noisy, place for everyone from jogger moms to Internet junkies ($3­$5 an hour; $12 a month membership). Open at 6:30pm; to 10:30pm, Monday­Thursday and Sunday; to 11:30pm, Friday­Saturday.

798-1 Blossom Hill Rd., Los Gatos (408/358-6311)
The Bay Area chain's understated North Berkeley style--tile floors, dark oak furnishings, walls the color of the French roast, classical acoustic guitar in the background--translates well in deliberately casual Los Gatos. Parents with kids and retirees likely to initiate pleasant conversation about their cats favor the marble bar lining the front window, while bicyclists and portfolio-wielding execs opt for the sidewalk benches and tables. Frosty low-fat caffeinated milkshakes, the Freddo specialties--caffe, mocha, and a tea version--are this season's favorite. Open 6:30­8pm, Monday­Wednesday; till 9pm, Thursday­Saturday; 7am­6pm, Sunday. Other locations in the valley, but these close earlier than 9pm.

Printers Inc. Cafe
320 California Ave., Palo Alto (415/323-3347)
Some large chain stores may think they invented the bookstore cafe concept, but Printers Inc. had been there and done that years ago. The bookstore is a first-rate independent bookstore with a vast selection, and the cafe is a top-notch coffeehouse and restaurant. In the evening, a bookish crowd indulges in lattes and mochas. And occasionally, on a Friday or Saturday night, the stylish and sweaty club kids from the nearby Edge nightclub pop in for a cool iced cappuccino or a sweet Italian soda. Open daily, 7:30am­11pm.

Prolific Oven
550 Waverley St., Palo Alto (415/326-8485)
As the name may imply, the bakery gets top billing here. Full selection of espresso drinks to go with fresh pastries and conversation. College students linger over coffee; all ages enjoy the bakery. Some juices. Beans by Mountanos Bros. Open Tuesday­Thursday, 7am­10pm; Friday­Saturday to midnight; Sunday, 8am­7pm.

Red Rock Coffee
201 Castro St., Mountain View (415/967-4473)
Just don't ask where the beans come from, it's a big secret. Average customer is of the human variety, kids to 90-year-olds. Regular live entertainment, plus open mic on Mondays. Go ahead, the caffeine will provide the courage. Open Monday­Friday, 7:30am­10pm; Saturday­Sunday to 11pm. Live music: jazz on Thursdays; anything goes Friday­Saturday. Sunday poetry readings once a month.

Red Rock Coffee
100 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale (408/730-2534)
Cigars, probably from the cigar shop two doors down, lend a smoky atmosphere to the outside tables. Small two-person tables inside are easily rearranged to suit most seating needs. The mocha is a hit with the friendly business and computer crowds. Open Monday­Saturday, 7am­9pm.

The Roasted Coffee Bean
19110 Stevens Creek Blvd,, Cupertino (408/725-1919)
Business and residential regulars are supplemented by high school students stopping by for mocha coolers in the afternoon. The towering tables are not for the acrophobic. Fortunately, there are low-ground options as well. Open Monday­Thursday, 6am­9pm; Friday­Saturday to 9:30pm; Sunday, 7am­8pm.

Royale Coffee Roasting Co.
5293 Prospect Rd., San Jose (408/255-7308)
Standard minimal exterior, but the couches and roasters inside make the place a lot more cozy. More than 30 varieties of fresh-roasted beans, and they'll brew a single cup of any of them. Excellent iced drinks don't water down the bite of the coffee. Open daily, 6:30am­10pm.

St. James Coffee
1683 Branham Lane, San Jose (408/978-9040)
Caffeinated commuters roll through in the mornings, braving such specialty drinks as the "Keith Richards"--four shots of espresso with hot chocolate. Talk about starting it up! Slows down to professional, 25­45 crowd later in the day. Pastries and Italian gelato; beans by Seattle's Best. Open Sunday­Tuesday, 6am­6pm; Thursday­Saturday, 8am­9pm.

Various locations
Though some may object to the uniformity of this chain operation, they can't argue with the coffee, which is always hot, fresh and reliable. Lots of fiercely loyal regulars from the surrounding neighborhoods give each location a slightly different atmosphere. Specialty drinks are now available with soy. Most stores open Monday­Thursday, 5:30am­10pm; Friday to midnight; Saturday, 7am­midnight; Sunday, 7am­9pm.

University Coffee Cafe
276 University Ave., Palo Alto (415/322-5301)
Students end their dates or start their wild evenings here, choosing the traditional espresso drinks, the juice bar or the full menu. Business folk and local moms come in for lunch or just a break. They roast their own beans twice a week. Open Monday­Thursday, 7:30am­11pm; Friday­Saturday to midnight; Sunday to 11pm.

Valley Yogurt/Espresso
3276 S. White Rd., San Jose (408/270-4307)
"Espress-yo," anyone? They'll mix frozen yogurt with any coffee drink, in addition to smoothies, regular drinks or yogurt. Families come for yogurt, stay for coffee. Coming soon: gourmet sausages for lunch. For something different, try Vietnamese coffee. Cash only. Open daily, 7am­10pm.

Vienna Coffee Roasting
2067 Camden Ave., San Jose (408/371-1981)
Don't be fooled by the name--the beans are brought in from a secret location. The clientele is largely business types in a calm, quiet atmosphere. Open Sunday­Thursday, 6am­10pm; Friday­ Saturday to midnight. Acoustic sets can be heard on the weekends.

Willow Glen Roasting Co.
1383 Lincoln Ave., San Jose (408/297-9077)
Fresh-roasted beans and a staff with a great sense of humor keep locals stopping by for their daily mocha or espresso fix. French roast lovers will appreciate the Minnesota Dark; caffeine fiends will opt for the Jump Start (a shot of espresso in regular coffee). Open Monday­ Thursday, 6am­10pm; Friday­Saturday to 11pm, with live blues and jazz.

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From the June 12-18, 1997 issue of Metro.

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