From the break of dawn to the arrival of the witching hour, the hiss of the espresso machine and the aromas of fresh-brewed coffee and spicy chai tea permeate Alley Cat Coffee House’s expansive space. Manning the counter 24 hours a day, the shop’s friendly baristas never stop topping off cups with ginger tea—made from 5 pounds of fresh ginger—or melting rich Ghirardelli chocolate into mochas, lattes, or carefully positioned open mouths. Morning customers nibble on a healthful breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, and late-night visitors wash down turkey melts and hummus with a thick milkshake.
Alley Cat’s interior is almost as diverse as its menu. A ceiling collage draws eyes upward to the colorful paintings of fish placed mere inches away from a photo of Mel Gibson chit-chatting on the phone. Beneath, sleek leather couches and plush chairs face traditional café seating. A separate room decked in simple earth tones makes an ideal study spot, fortified with wireless Internet, printing stations, and test answers carved into the tables.