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Trouble in Oakland

—Trouble Coffee Co.'s Light Filled West Oakland Cafe—

Story by Cory Maryott July 8th, 2015

Trouble Coffee Co.

I’d heard of the original Trouble Coffee from a friend a while back. Their original location is a few blocks from the beach, on Judah street in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. I was told of their wondrously delicious cinnamon toast and coffee, and of the other intriguing menu choices—coconut, and grapefruit juice shots. I was also warned that Trouble is quite unlike other coffee shops, and that the staff and culture could be a little “intense”. When I heard a new location had opened close to me in the East Bay, I was excited to check it out and see what the buzz was all about.

So, Ellie and I met one morning and enjoyed coffee, toast and a coconut in the beautiful light filled cafe.

Ellie at the register

Getting into Trouble

Ellie and I met around 11 in the morning, and stepped into the beautiful light filled cafe. Large windows flank both the south and east walls, and light bounces around the nearly all white interior. We placed an order then waited at the bar as we caught up a bit.


Trouble has a really compelling back story (one thats a bit too long to regurgitate here, but I’ll put links at the end!).

The culture here is very different from other coffee shops. The space is designed to get people to talk to one another, so the use of laptops and other electronic devices is not allowed. Instead, customers are encouraged to grab a coconut or toast and some coffee and strike up a conversation with someone next to you, or the staff there.

The cafe is cash only, so be sure to bring cash. Otherwise there is an ATM on site.

Trouble has been known to reprimand people for taking photos in their other locations, but it seems that rule has now been changed. The staff kindly requested I do not include them in any photos, so please be sure to double check if you go.

No laptops or phone calls in the cafe allowed.

Coffee, Toast and...Coconuts?

I had the latte and cinnamon toast, while Ellie went for the coconut and a drip coffee.

Cinnamon toast was a comfort food of the owner Giulietta, Trouble’s creator, while Coconuts were a nutritious source of sustenance for her. At Trouble, the coconuts are served with both a straw and a spoon, to scrape out the meat. Coconuts were also a way for Giulietta to start conversations with people and make new friends.

We both enjoyed the airy space and Giulietta had a conversation with us. I actually didn’t know what she looked like, so I had no idea she was the owner until she talked about her vision for an all white coffee shop with us. She and the other staff are very kind and welcoming, don’t be shy about talking with them.

1. Coconut; 2. Toast; 3. Coffee
A place to gather and chat. Make connections
The staff kindly asked not to appear in any photos
The Yoko— a shot of fresh grapefruit juice
Giulietta decorates the space with things that remind her of home.

"Build Your own damn house"

From Trouble’s site:

Stay true to your house. Fabricate consciousness. The truth is you. This is a simple invitation to participate. Get in trouble. Movement is a collective art that relies on participants. Build your own damn house. We will help. Lead with what you know. Maintain guts and honor. Be graceful. Live now. Compose. Shed the light on how the mind works. Construct your perceptions. Join us in our dance. Songs work.

[The Back Story]

Shortly after my friend told me about Trouble Coffee, I heard a great story on it, on NPR’s This American Life. Giulietta’s story is really very compelling, and every element of her coffee shop is derived from her experiences.

I highly recommend you take a moment to read more here:

Pacific Standard Article

This American Life

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Trouble Coffee Co.