Since debuting in Taiwan in the 1980s, sweet tapioca pearls have traveled the world, jockeying for the title of America’s next taste sensation upon landing in California. Made of sweet potato, cassava root, and a hint of brown sugar, each pearl is soft on the outside and chewy on the inside, much like a nerf ball filled with creamy mashed potatoes. Tapioca Express captures the gems in more than 100 frosty, fruit-flavored bubble drinks and velvety milk teas—crafted from authentic ingredients imported from Taiwan and hand-selected tea leaves—in flavors such as mango, lavender, almond, and smoky oolong. The pearlescent bubble drinks pair with a menu of Taiwanese snacks, including fried steam buns and crispy calamari rings and combo entrees such as curried chicken and braised pork ribs.
The bean barons at Second Street Café sling brewed-to-order fair-trade coffee, specialized sippables, and breakfast and lunch fare that employs fresh organic produce. Shake off nightmares of showing up fully clothed at a nudist beach with the Jump Start ($2.85–$3.25), which drops a double shot of espresso in a cup of classic joe from the nearby Verve's Coffee Roasters. A selection of bagels ($1.65–$2.95), breakfast sandwiches ($3.95–$4.95), and breakfast burritos ($3.95–$4.25) ensure a mollified morning, while iced americanos ($2.50) and lattes ($3.50) cool off humid highway hoppers.
There's meticulous attention to detail in every flakey layer of Capitola Coffee Roasters and Patisserie's baked goods. The team creates their pastries by hand each morning, but the process starts even earlier. They first source real butter, unbleached flour, and other organic ingredients when possible. Then they mix the dough, which in some cases chills for 20 hours. Each passing minute infuses the future treat with more texture and flavor. Only then is it ready to turn into a breakfast bun, croissant, or danish. As the day goes on, the oven welcomes other desserts: bread pudding, apple pies made with organic fruit, or perhaps a flour-less chocolate cake. Oftentimes, the deservedly proud bakers post photos of their current creation on Facebook.
Outside this kitchen, aromas of tea and fresh-roasted coffee dance their way through the air. Baristas mix and pour all sorts of caffeinated drinks, including cappuccino, lattes, and chai tea. They often add house made whipped cream or flavored syrups for extra flavor. While Capitola Coffee Roasters and Patisserie still emphasizes breakfast, the shop serves sandwiches and soup, also known as liquid sandwiches.
Lisa Brighton baked her first treat—a peach cobbler—when she was just 4 years old. She had some help, of course, from her great-grandmother, Hazel, who taught her which spices to use and which spices to throw over her shoulder. Hazel also handed down several generations of family recipes and a passion for baking that’s been in the family genes for more than 100 years. Lisa puts it to good use at Starz Cupcakes, which she co-owns with her daughter Connie.
Lisa and Connie estimate that they make 220 different kinds of cupcakes, including 17 velvets—a new take on the classic red velvet—in ultra-bright colors such as coral, teal, and purple. They also bake gluten-free cupcakes for customers with gluten allergies, and sugar-free versions for sweets lovers on low-sugar diets. And the tiny cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious; each one is topped with a dollop of frosting and decorative trimmings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes.
Swan & Company's stylists artfully resurface heads of hair and primp nail beds with salon products and keen aesthetic senses. During haircuts, meticulous scissors snip and shorten any rogue strands before the remaining locks are styled into shapes that fit customers' heads. Along with cutting and styling services, the staff can cleanse complexions with exfoliating microdermabrasion, dress nails in CND Shellac polish, and de-frizz hairdos with Coppola keratin smoothing.