27 February, 2014
Éko Coffee Bar and Tea HousePosted in : Coffee in Hayward, CA, Coffee Shops, Dining in Castro Valley, CA, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
I’d been watching the Coming Soon! sign for this coffee shop with interest since I moved to Hayward in August. Downtown Hayward has few coffee options aside from the usual chain suspects. Though I enjoy both Snappy’s Café and the Bistro for my caffeine needs, Snappy’s is pretty small and the Bistro is more of a bar and music venue than a spot suitable for working. Sometimes, I just need that coffee shop escape from the home office.
Éko, which will have been open about a month at the time of this post, fits that bill. The contemporary atmosphere is appealing, especially the mod, black, circle chairs. Those are mixed in with marble tables, bursts of marsh green fabric along the booth row, and rust red and white walls. Excepting the fixed sunburst mirror and white decorative lamps in the alcove, the shop is decorated with local artwork.
But atmosphere is only half the battle, and at a coffee shop, the coffee itself is of primary importance. Éko uses Mr. Espresso beans, which is based in Alameda and roasts its coffee over oak wood. You can taste that oak, whether having the coffee steeped through French press, pour-over, or cold brew. The baristas haven’t quite mastered all those techniques yet, but they’re getting there.
I’ve had both a pour-over and a café au lait thus far and enjoyed the smoky and woodsy qualities they imparted. Those elements particularly shined in the pour-over; I’m still not entirely sure the café au lait’s milk wasn’t burnt, but I pretended otherwise and was perfectly happy with the drink. My husband had no complaints with his cappuccino.
Éko’s wares are not limited to coffee, and frankly, the smell of their crepes on the griddle is a big enough draw on its own to get me back inside. The whole place smells amazing because of it. On our first trip, we ordered two sweet crepes to share. I apologize for the picture quality; I only had my cell phone that night and apparently forgot to wipe the lens.
The most important element in the Elvis crepe is the deliciously warm peanut butter. Mmm, warm peanut butter. Mmm, fresh banana slices. You’ll have to forgive my decreasing verbal ability.
Crepe #2 was the Nutella and strawberry, and it delivered just what was advertised. The strawberries were diced up and perhaps too tart, but that’s obviously going to vary with whatever produce they have delivered. Nutella is a classic crepe filling at this point, so you can’t go wrong there, but the Elvis was definitely superior. Both crepes had good ratios of topping to wrap, making for crepes that weren’t overstuffed or skimped out on.
Éko has sandwiches and salads listed on their website, but I’ve only seen them in the to-go cold case so far, along with, of course, pastries. I’ve tried a giant cream puff.
Pastry cream oozed out of it at every bite. It tasted fresh and flavorful, but for me, both the pastry and the crème were too rich and dense. That’s because I prefer whipped cream for a filling–I’ll ask which it is next time.
My husband has had one of the to-go sandwiches, a baguette stuffed with margherita toppings of mozzerella, tomatoes, and what I assume is spinach, though basil would be more appropriate.
He had no complaints and honestly doesn’t know whether that was basil or spinach (No, I have no idea how he can’t tell the difference. Sometimes, spouses are a mystery).
I opted for a savory crepe for lunch that day, going with the Medi option, which overflowed with thickly sliced turkey, feta, tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, walnuts, pesto, and cranberries.
I meant overflowing! That was a very tasty crepe. They overdid the pesto and the feta, but otherwise, it was delicious with lots of complementary tastes and textures in each bite.
Teas and boba are also available for beverages.
The husband had a strawberry milk boba, and again, no complaints on his end.
I also love that they provide two different pitchers of ice water with a different fruit immersed in each. But the best part of this new spot is how much fun the staff has making all their drinks and eats. I’ve seen people take joy in customer service so rarely, and eavesdropping on their conversations while I’m supposedly working makes the afternoon pass faster. Not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.
Éko Coffee Bar and Tea House
1075 B St.
Reviewed 1 Feb and 5 Feb 2014.