Best Coffee in Tahoe

10Best Spots for Coffee in Lake Tahoe and Truckee

A good cup of coffee in Lake Tahoe can come from a variety of places: lakeside cafés, roadside trailers, boutique hotels and even a restored saloon. Whether you are looking for a basic drip coffee or a fancy espresso drink with all the fixings, these 10Best locations in Lake Tahoe will give you the kick you need for day at the lake.

If you want it basic, try Alpina Coffee Cafe in South Lake Tahoe or Wild Cherries in Truckee. For a relaxed afternoon by the lake or on a shaded deck, visit Freel Perk in Meyers or Coffeebar in Truckee. Each of these locations also sell sandwiches and baked goods for an afternoon pick-me-up. If you want to have a great destination coffee, head up to The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and get an amazing cup from Café Blue and enjoy it with views of the mountains around Northstar California.


Coffee Connexion in Tahoe City has been brewing their own high quality beans since 1990. The coffee house serves great espresso as well as baked goods and sandwiches and is a local favorite as well as having some great views of Lake Tahoe and quick access to other shops in Tahoe City. The shop sells cappuccinos, lattes, mocha, organic teas, chai and several types of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and crepes. NOTE: As of summer 2016, the main shop is under renovation, but you can still order coffee and baked goods from the Coffee Connexion trailer in the same parking lot.

Recommended for Coffee because: Coffee Connexion is a friendly spot with a focus on locals and great baked goods.

Christina's expert tip: As of summer 2016, the main shop is under renovation, but you can still order coffee from the Coffee Connexion trailer.

Read more about Coffee Connexion →

South Lake Tahoe

The Free Bird Cafe in South Lake Tahoe serves up some of the best organic food in the area. Their menu includes coffee, tea, smoothies, homemade chai tea, baked goods, super foods and more. Try the Humming Bird Smoothie with Yogurt, Mango (or Strawberry), OJ, Banana, Agave Nectar for $4.75 or the Dirty Chai (Chai Latte with Espresso) for $4.50. Their "light bites" include items like the Special Bagel which is a locally made bagel with house herb cream cheese and fresh tomato slices for $4.00 or the Potato Samosas with curry, mango chutney, cilantro salsa and a house salad for $6.

Recommended for Coffee because: The Free Bird has a relaxed, cozy vibe and nice, spicy chai.

Christina's expert tip: The Free Bird uses only fair trade coffee and tea in their drinks.

Read more about The Free Bird →

Dam Cafe
Photo courtesy of Dave Benson/Flickr

This little coffee shop with the funny name is right across from the Truckee River outlet and Fanny Bridge right on the "Y" of highway 89 and 28. The Dam Café serves various espresso coffee drinks and smoothies, sandwiches and burritos like the Dam Burly-rito and the Tasty Turkey, soups like Brazillian Black Bean, Illy coffee and quality teas. The owners cater to vegetarians with their sandwiches and burritos and any item can be replaced with a vegetarian option. This is a local favorite and can get a little full. They have parking and outdoor seating on their front and back decks.

Recommended for Coffee because: The Dam Café has a tea drawer just for tea drinkers.

Christina's expert tip: The Dam Café is located right on the Truckee River.

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Tahoe locals count on this little coffee shop in Truckee for a caffeine buzz in the early morning hours and a tempting selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads, and smoothies throughout the day. Wild Cherries Coffee House offers several types of locally roasted Arabica beans: organic blends, single origins and Fair Trade. Wild Cherries Coffee House also serves hearty bagel sandwiches with a wide variety of spreads (like sun dried tomato cream cheese) as well as fruit and liquid smoothies. The café also offers a wide variety of freshly baked goods, baked fresh daily, including pies, cakes, cookies, breads and more.

Recommended for Coffee because: Wild Cherries has a wonderful community atmosphere and an awesome selection of bagel sandwiches

Christina's expert tip: Wild Cherries Coffee House is owned by Kristin Krone, two-time Olympian and Truckee local.

Read more about Wild Cherries Coffee House →

The Tunnel Creek Caf� is located in the former Ponderosa Ranch area of Incline Village. The caf� caters to hikers and bikers who are accessing or coming down from the Flume Trail, a popular mountain biking area just above the lake. The caf� offers breakfast, lunch and early dinner as well as a farmer's market in the summer and fall. The caf� is open all year and also has a wood stove inside to keep you warm. The affordable menu includes breakfast items like Umpqua Oatmeal for only $3.25, breakfast burritos for $4.95 and coffee and tea for around $2.00 a cup. Lunch items include sandwiches and paninis and salads. There are also a few vegetarian items like Mozzarella Pesto with tandoori naan flatbread grilled with mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto.

Recommended for Coffee because: Tunnel Creek is in a great location near the Nevada State Park and they have a farmer's market on Wednesdays in the summer.

Christina's expert tip: The front porch at the Tunnel Creek Café is a great place to hang out and eat.

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This cozy, local coffee shop serves Alpen Sierra coffee, various teas and much more. Located in South Lake Tahoe on the way to Emerald Bay, Alpina is a comfy caf�, adored by locals. The Cafe has three computers with Internet access for customers to use, a kids' corner, and picnic tables in a sunny garden area for spring and summer. The Alpina has free WiFi and 3G. Try their house coffee or lattes (with great foam) or their great Mexican hot chocolate. The Alpina does serve basic food items like muffins, sandwiches and bagels and a darn good spinach quiche.

Recommended for Coffee because: Alpina Coffee Café is tucked into the trees in South Lake Tahoe and is perfect for a stop before heading to Emerald Bay.

Christina's expert tip: For their iced coffees, Alpina Coffee Café uses coffee ice cubes.

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Freel Perk is located in Meyers, a small community in South Lake Tahoe. This quaint community coffee shop named after a local mountain peak not only serves fresh coffee and tea, but also ice cream, fresh fruit smoothies, locally baked bagels, pastries, breakfast sandwiches and more. Freel Perk uses organic, fair trade coffee from Alpen Sierra Roasting Company in Minden, Nevada and you coffee can be made in a variety of ways include frappe, drip and gourmet coffee drinks. The coffee shop has a variety of teas to choose from as well. You can choose to sit inside in their cozy space or sit outside and get some great views of Mount Tallac and Tahoe's pine trees from the shop's front deck.

Recommended for Coffee because: Freel Perk has a friendly staff and small community atmosphere.

Christina's expert tip: Freel Perk plays nice music and has a nice small town community feel.

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Caf� Blue is The Ritz-Carlton's signature bakery and coffee shop. Located in the upper lobby near the outdoor pool with views of the mid-moutain ski runs of Northstar, Caf� Blue features fresh pressed juices and smoothies, signature house-made Paninis and pastries and San Francisco-based Sightglass Coffee. The cafe offers house-made breakfast pastries in the morning, and classic French-inspired pastries in the afternoon including delicate, but amazing petit four pastries made on-site. Each of the baked items are hand-crafted by the Ritz's chef and staff and you can take your coffee and pastries onto the outside deck all year long.

Recommended for Coffee because: Café Blue is located in The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and has some of the best views in the area.

Christina's expert tip: Try one of Café Blue's egg sandwiches with your coffee.

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This stylish little coffee bar in Truckee is just off the main road on Jibboom street in downtown Truckee. They serve up Italian-style cappuccinos, espressos and latt�s as well as some unusual drinks like Lemon Chiffon Latte and Caffe Marocchino. The Coffeebar also serves paninis, salads, homemade crepes, filo purses filled with sweet or savory ingredients and other drinks like Italian sodas, teas and fresh juice.The Coffeebar has a great outdoor patio and plenty of seating in their well-lit space. This is a great place to meet clients or family and is away from the main street through downtown Truckee.

Recommended for Coffee because: Coffeebar has a popular following, not only for its great coffee, but also for their tasty panini sandwiches.

Christina's expert tip: Try one of Coffeebar's breakfast crepes with your coffee.

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Dark Horse Coffee Roasters has a bit of a cult following in southern California and now their fresh roasted coffee is located in Truckee in a stone building that used to be a saloon. Dark Horse's beans are roasted in-house and the coffee menu includes cold brews, pour-overs, gourmet drinks and homemade syrups for flavored coffees. The hipster decor is cool and relaxed with antique books, phonographs, a grand piano and local art. Dark Horse also serves baked goods like strudel, cheese sandwiches and some locally baked items. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable about their coffee, the process and what drinks to try.

Recommended for Coffee because: Dark Horse roasts their own beans and serves classic coffee rather than fancy drinks.

Christina's expert tip: Dark Horse Coffee Roasters has limited seating, so you might want to grab your coffee early.

Read more about Dark Horse Coffee Roasters →


Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina