Santa Barbara > Restaurants > Northstar Coffee Company
Ca Dario

Northstar Coffee Company
No longer in business
Opened: ? Closed: 2010-05

918 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-5593

  • Category: Coffee
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 7:30am-10:30pm, Sun 7:30am-7pm
  • Reservations: No
  • Map
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • Web Site
  • Write a review of this location!

Reviews by the General Public

Weak Chai, Homey w/Nice people, 4/28/2011
Reviewer: Glenn from Buellton
Nice people and Homey, this is now called Cafe Zoma, affliated with Coffee Cat and Goleta Cafe Zoma. Though the two previous mentioned places have great stuff this one did not for me, pretty weak Chai. Great Eats though and other person liked their drink. Warm and Cozy environment and people nice, not sure why the drink would be different here over other two.

best chocolate muffin ever, 12/12/2010
Reviewer: sun from Santa Barbara, CA
they had the best chocolate muffin!!!!!!! so delicious. but the girl who took my order wasn't the friendliest person. that was a little disappointing

Quality service and quality coffee., 8/21/2010
Reviewer: Bob from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been a customer of the coffee industry my entire life. I have been treated well and I have been treated rudely. The girls that work at northstar are kind, considerate, and superb coffee makers. I keep coming back, because I know how my business will be received. I only have good things to say about this place.

ELIZABETH, 7/3/2010
Reviewer: a p c from Santa Barbara, CA

HIT OR MISS, 7/3/2010
Reviewer: ELIZABETH from Santa Barbara, CA

RIP, 5/15/2010
Reviewer: Bruce from Santa Barbara, CA
Well, the service has always been very much like a paris coffee bar: they treated you like you were annoying them by ordering. But, they were pretty much the only place that I went for coffee anymore in SB. Unlike the rest of the pathetic bunch, they put the fealing of quality above politics. The coffee was consistantly very good. The pasteries and food items were always quite good. The Music on the sound system was bland but certainly not overpowering. And in general, the atmosphere had an air of class. I went recently, 2 weeks after the Coffee Cat bought them and found: Bready, dry croissant, (croissants are supposed to be very buttery, flakey and not at all good for you, otherwise they are just rolls) over extracted espresso (god help it when they switch to the wildely inconsistant Green Star stuff) Messy tables, cups and saucers no longer matched. Very loud Music. And I'm sure It's only a matter of time until the place starts to get that acrid smell that the ret of the SB coffee houses have. I love to support local business, and am willing to pay more to do so, but only when the businesses don't require me to accept a lower quality.

Love the atmosphere, food sucks, service not much better, 12/17/2009
Reviewer: Morgan Senzamici from Santa Barbara, CA
I go here on occasion because of it's great location and warm amosphere, generally when I am meeting other people downtown. I can't say I'm impressed with whoever's in charge of hiring, as the staff typically seems as though they could care less about their customers. I've noticed on numerous occasions that they will take a few minutes to finish a conversation before starting on a food or beverage order. I have received both cold and burnt bagels, on seperate occasions, and in both circumstances I was left wondering who in their right mind would serve such a clearly unservable item. What swore me off ever ordering food there was a BLT with the most meager single slice of damp bacon that I couldn't even taste it, to which I was told "that's how we do it here" for almost $9! If I could rate the atmosphere, I'd give it 4-5 stars, but if you're looking for more than a place to sit and have just a simple cup of coffee that you pour yourself, look elsewhere.

I've driven 50 miles to go here again, 11/24/2009
Reviewer: Colleen from Camarillo, CA
North Star is far and away the best coffee shop I've ever been to. I stopped by on a weekday evening and was immediately greeting by a friendly, professional-looking barista who took my order right away and was happy to answer questions about the coffee shop--even its furnishings. My order took a little longer to prepare than it would at Starbucks, but I didn't mind because when it arrived it was beautifully presented (foam-leaf swirl in the top of my latte, and a drip wiped off the side of the mug). The atmosphere is beautiful and classy, with leather couches, artwork, and the occasional live music (never too loud). This is the first online review I've ever written of any restaurant, but I figure it's long past due since I plan every trip to Santa Barbara around this shop and its hours!

Reviewer: Ben K from Santa Barbara, CA

What happened?, 2/10/2009
Reviewer: Cait from Santa Barbara, CA
There was a time when Northstar was a decent place to grab a cafe-type beverage and even some tasty light fare. The past few times I have visited I have been greatly disappointed. Yesterday, 2.9.09, I ordered a chai latte and a hot chocolate. Fifteen minutes later, I received a cold chai latte and a cold mocha: not what I ordered. Plus which, the customers who had ordered after me received their beverages first. Service is lazy, product is poor, and the whole cafe looks as if it hasn't been cleaned in months. Someone get the health department in there.

Cold Coffee, sour milk, unsanitary food, 11/3/2008
Reviewer: Nicole from Santa Barbara, CA
I had a short business meeting here on 10-22-08 around 7pm. Coffee and snacks were paid for by our business so I decided to get a basic cup of coffee and perhaps a snack. The first thing I noticed were several flies in the display case which immediately killed my appetite which is saying something since it was getting close to 7:30 and I hadn't had dinner yet. I decided to get just a cup of coffee. They handed me a mug (which on the plus side, looked pretty clean) and I was told the coffee was self serve. Also a plus! However...the coffee was cold! I wanted to put milk or cream in it but all of the milk and cream canisters smelled terrible, like no one had changed the milk all day. I had a few sips of my cold coffee before dumping the whole thing out and waiting until the meeting was over so I could run over to Coffee Bean.

"We can't scoop it", 9/16/2008
Reviewer: baker8 from Santa Barbara, CA
They also serve Gelato (Italian ice cream) here. My friend ordered a scoop at 11:30am on a hot, sunny summer Sunday morning, and the girl working behind the counter, who couldn't have been more than 15, said "she can't scoop the ice cream". the ice cream is in plain view and gelato is supposed to be soft, so I couldn't understand what the problem was. She clarified, saying the ice cream was too hard to scoop at that time, miraculouly, 15 minutes later, someone else walked out with an ice cream. Not sure how the ice cream can soften up, if it's in a freezer case. This employee was either too lazy to scoop it, or couldn't think outside the box to figure out how to scoop it. Kind of ridiculous when you're paying as much as you do for ice cream at that place

Never got in, 9/11/2008
Reviewer: Dale and Ann from Blacksburg, VA
Noticed people inside at 6:30 wife and I were out for a morning walk and thought this would be a nice place to sit down to a morning coffee and we walked in, the manager (I guess) immediately informed us that "this is a private gathering" and suggested that we go to one of the Starbucks on State St...Starbucks sucks! Just trying to support local business'...happy to be back to our local Blacksburg, VA coffee shop (Mill Mountain Coffee) that opens at 6AM!

home sweet home, 12/13/2007
Reviewer: Jessi from Santa Barbara, CA
Northstar is my favorite coffee spot because its a fairly quiet place to study or chat. I like the turkey sandwich and always order it because its simple and satisfies me. I only had one unpleasant experience where the staff forgot my orange mocha, but I don't blame the staff since they were very busy then, after all people make mistakes. Overall, the atmosphere of the coffee shop gives me the warm feeling of home.

tomato bisque is the best!!!!!, 11/27/2007
Reviewer: Anelise from Goleta, CA
I think its hysterical when people complain about basically anything because if those people would just take a moment to look around at where they live, or have the amazing opportunity to visit, they would hopefully soon realize they are living the life in one of the most amazing places on earth. I hope that one day we as a people will decide to drop the negative outlook on life and the desire to complain, and instead be grateful and appreciate where you are, that you have clothes on your back and a few dollars to spend on a coffee of your choice- the majority of the world does not and in most cases never has had that luxury we and especially the complainers take for granted.

Good, But..., 11/2/2007
Reviewer: Ariel from Santa Barbara
This could be a really cool place. The food is pretty good, aside from the flies landing on all the exposed muffins and pastries. The coffee is great, the location and setting is really nice. The main thing is that some of the people working there (not all of them) appear to be really bitter for some reason. Hopefully they will realize that they are in the business of service to the people and would not be there without customers.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Ariel,

My apologies for your disappointing experience. We have addressed the problems with the pastries which are now in the display case. It troubled me greatly to hear about one or more members of our staff. I place a great emphasis on customer service and attention to detail throughout our training of new employees. I will be discussing this again with the entire staff this week in the hopes of eradicating this kind of behavior. If you could e-mail me directly with a description of the individuals you mentioned it will help me direct my attention.

Once again, my apologies.

Warren Richards

Business Manager

Overall: Satisfied, 10/11/2007
Reviewer: Ashley from Santa Barbara, CA
The atmosphere is great. One thing I'm concerned about is the pastries. Have they considered wrapping each pastry in saran wrap like every other coffee shop? Its pretty disgusting what one sees sitting on them. The coffee is great and so is the gelati from "Here's The Scoop" in Montecito.

not impressed, 6/20/2007
Reviewer: kim from los angeles
the service was not great, the staff not too bright either. i got charged twice for the same transaction and that's after being told my card was declined although there was nothing wrong with it. that whole incident ruined my breakfast since i had to spend it calling the bank and fixing the mistake. i probably will not go back there.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Kim,
I would like to apologize for your disappointing experience. Unfortunately we did have some Internet problems over the past weekend which affected some of the communications with our bank on credit card transactions. I would be happy to refund you for any bank charges and any expenses you incurred during your visit to NorthStar. I will be addressing training deficits with my staff so that they are better equipped to resolve issues with our credit card processing. If you would like to discuss reimbursement please contact me at
Warren Richards
Business Manager
NorthStar Coffee Co.

Great Manager and staff, 5/29/2007
Reviewer: Aziz from Santa Barbara, CA
I just became a regualr customer of North Star and my experience has been great . I have been observing the manager several times and his staff they are trying very hard to make every customer very happy. Great job and great business.

not a good start of my day..., 5/23/2007
Reviewer: Lisa I. from Santa Barbara , Ca
Today was like being in the twilight zone. I ordered a green tea latte to go. After leaving I discovered my green tea latte tasted like coffee...too bad I'm allergic to coffee, total waste of $4.00. My real pet peeve was when the girl behind the counter plopped her butt up onto the counter where they toast the bagels/make sandwiches??? The manager guy was right there...he didn't seem to care. Sooo gross!! I can't help but wonder how many different places she has sat today before sitting up on the food prep counter. Also, the fresh pastries sitting on top of the display case, uncovered, at eye level...NO need to go back to Northstar again.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Lisa,
I would like to offer you my sincere apologies for your disappointing experience. I followed up immediately with regards to your drink and can only attribute that to an honest mistake by one of our employees. They are all aware of the correct ingredients for that drink, none of which are coffee or espresso. As for your other concerns, the employee you mentioned is in her first week with us and I have now made her very aware of not only my expectations, but also those of our customers. I assure you that your comments have been handled with the utmost importance and have reminded us of the importance of attention to detail and customer service, neither of which I take lightly. Once again, my apologies.
Warren Richards
Business Manager
NorthStar Coffee Co.

Very smooth espresso!, 4/3/2007
Reviewer: Markus from Newbury Park, CA
We spent a day in Santa Barbara and visited several coffee shops. On the way back to our car we stopped at the Northstar Coffee Company just for an espresso. When I saw the LaMarzocco I hoped for a decent shot. But actually it was a quite rich, smooth shot, served in an espresso china cup. We were very pleased and if we make it to Santa Barbara again, we will stop by!

Great place, 3/29/2007
Reviewer: Sam from Santa Barbara, Ca.
Was in here on 3/25/07 and it was a pleasure. It's nice to have a local coffee co. that cares about it's customers. The staff always have smiles on their faces, are friendly and quick about getting your order to you. Their coffee is the best in town, and their gelato is to die for! They are more than happy to offer you samples of their flavors (made by the local "Here's The Scoop" gelato shop). Sometimes I go downtown just to go to Northstar. Congrats. to the new management on a job well done.

Mexican Hot Chocolate!! Yummy!, 3/9/2007
Reviewer: Anna from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I dropped into Northstar after catching a flick at the Movie theatre next door and fell in love with the Mexican Hot Chocolate!! It was SO delicious and the atmosphere was really nice too. The staff was extremely friendly and kept giving my husband gelato samples - just to be nice. Great experience!

total bedlam, 1/17/2007
Reviewer: Nora from Santa Barbara
The picture here must have been taken at dawn or something because this place is total, utter bedlam. I have never been in a more crowded coffee shop (it's on State and I went over the weekend, yes), which is all well and good but the space and the servers just can't handle the numbers. Food, which is good on the whole, takes forever. Servers are overworked, distracted and hence just a touch rude. People fight for space. Everyone speaks quite loud to be heard over the din. You get the picture. I think it's more of a take-away than a drink-and-eat-in kind of place.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Nora, it is regrettable to hear that your experience did not meet your expectations. The weekends are extremely busy for us and because of feedback like yours I have reviewed our staffing needs to aleviate such congestion. I hope you will be consider us again in the future, particularly during the working week when foot traffic on State Street is less extreme.
Uniforms possibly needed here, 11/21/2006
Reviewer: Lorey from Santa Barbara
I usually don't go to this cafe, but went to get a tea. The thing that I was really taken aback was the 'baristas' attire. She looked like she had just got out of bed.. her t-shirt had so many holes in the back it was disgusting. There are street beggars in more appropriate attire. When going up to get my tea, there was a bit of confusion as there were a couple drinks up there. It looked like we were bothering her to ask for assistance. Not pleasant.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Lorey, thanks for your informative feedback. The employee you were referring to was reprimanded for her behavior that day and is no longer part of our team. I have gone to great lengths to improve the quality of our staff and I hope you will be able to give us another chance.
a pleasant change, 9/13/2006
Reviewer: maggie from santa barbara, ca
i used to love northstar when it was new, then it underwent many changes that were dicsouraging to students and people like myself who like to linger into the evening. i used to work there and can vouch for the attentiveness to quality that goes on behind the scenes. i would encourage those of you who have had an unpleasant experience there in the past to return. under the new ownership, the place has returned to the top of my list. staying open later and offering live music and ambiance and wonderful drinks (try the chai, and the mexican hot chocolate) with impeccable presentataion. WORTH A SECOND CHANCE.

Goth-Noir Hippy-one stop-hop, 5/14/2006
Reviewer: Lew Marklin Mash from Santa Barbara
I thought that the mocha i ordered was good. They lined the cup with chocolate, which was a nice touch,and the guy was very nice and explained why he did it that way. So my drink was very rich, but the atmosphere was not for me. It was a bit dark and Hate Ashberry-ish. If you are the hippy type, though, I recomend. I like well lit areas, that are spottlessly clean with modern decor.

No longer on my list of good coffee shops, 4/2/2006
Reviewer: Erik Marsh from Santa Barbara, CA
Northstar used to be near the top of my list of coffee shops in town. Lately, I've noticed less tolerance for the student studying crowd, and sometimes requests for people to leave. This afternoon put things over the top, though, and I think the only good thing left about this place is location. The coffee is fine (and the most expensive in town), but there was no dark roast. This makes sense when you listen to the music, which was so watered down with soprano saxaphone it brought me back to the last time I had the pleasure of a long elevator ride or my dentist's waiting room soundtrack. The worst offense was the "cheesecake", usually a favorite dessert of mine. Not completely thawed out, this item only could be called by that name based on shape, color, and perhaps price. Instead of creamy texture, I was tastefully presented (red drippings on a big plate and everything) with a tasteless triangle of partially frozen white sugar. I tried to muscle it down, but had to stick to my light roast coffee. The shift in target audience over the last year is clear, and as I find myself well outside of that demographic (rich, conservative, tourist), I will be finding myself at other coffee shops in town. The cafe's attempts to be maximally non-offensive have cost it its character, but I might still suggest this place: Just order coffee (the sandwiches, like the cheescake, are mostly presentation), bring your own music, and sit in the comfortable leather chairs. They are nice to read in (but don't linger during peak hours!), and you don't have to worry about the fake fire getting too hot.

Northstar Coffee Company writes: Dear Mr. Marsh,
I regret to hear of your experience at NorthStar and assure you that I will personally be looking into the variety of concerns that you shared, especially regarding our cheesecake. Our goal is certainly not to alienate the student population of what is undoubtedly in my mind as much a student town as it is a tourist town. We are currently in the process of finalizing our plans for free wireless access at NorthStar which will be available after lunchtime until closing for students who wish to study at NorthStar. We are also going to be adding a fourth coffee to our daily selection which will definitely be a dark roast.
Once again, my apologies for your disappointing experience and I thank you for your insights.
Warren Richards
NorthStar Coffee Co.

Absolutely lovely place, 6/20/2005

This is my favorite coffee shop in town just for itsdecor. Inside it´s light and airy with a beautiful fireplace setup (it may be fake, but it still creates a nice ambiance). The coffee is just great too...but I always notice the workers smiling. I do wish they were open for longer hours, but if that´s what it takes to stay open PLEASE do it!

To: miserly, 3/23/2005

If cutting back their hours makes good business sense, then I applaud their decision. Too many businesses in town close down because they don´t have the smarts to find the right business model. If they were profitable with the old hours, they wouldn't have changed them. Northstar is a nice place. The fake fireplace (a disguised lightbulb, electric heater, optional "crackling log" speaker) is a tad cheesy - gas logs would have been my choice.

miserly northstar, 3/22/2005

As far as I was concerned a year ago, Northstar was Santa Barbara´s finest coffee shop all around. However, since my declarations about Northstars greatness, I have felt incresingly unwanted and unwelcome in the place. Apparently, the owners want to move away from having college students come in and study, and more towards a more sophisticated and older crowd of customers. They moved their hours from closing at 11pm to closing at 8pm. They should´ve ridden out the tough, low-money making night hours until they started developing a night crowd. Now they close early--around 8pm. And now, Northstar loses many a customer. Night crowd students/people in general will bring in lots of money. I considered myself their top customer, now I feel rejected and uncomfortable there. Tasty chai though.

nice spot for a "cuppa", 3/1/2005

Northstar has a nice atmosphere, cozy and not gritty like the other State St. coffee shops. They´ve got comfy chairs and good coffee drinks. I´m not a gourmet bean connoisseur so I can´t vouch for the grade of the coffee but I´ve enjoyed every cup I´ve had there. Also they make Mexican cocoa, which is a great treat that few coffee shops offer.

My review of Northstar Coffee, 2/22/2005
Reviewer: Jerry Bellamy from Santa Barbara, CA
I went to Northstar Coffee Company the other day to meet with a business associate for coffee. It was my first time to be there. I was very favorably impressed by the surroundings and quality of coffee. I went out of my way to meet the owner, Ken, and he was very gracious and made me feel at home.

Have you eaten here? Write a review of this location!  Terms of Service