Quite a few coffee shops buy their baked goods from outside sources. They do so mostly because they don’t have the kitchen space or the trained staff to make their own pastries—and besides, coffee is what they do best, so let the bakers bake, and everyone wins. The only thing missing from this equation is the ability to get baked goods specific to a particular coffee shop.
Amor Cafe and Tea, the latest coffee/tea house in downtown San Jose, is able to offer in-house baked goods because it also owns a commercial kitchen in town, which it uses to make goods to sell at flea markets on weekends. While Amor serves muffins and coffee cakes, mostly it features dessert items. Among the many choices are cheesecake, cake pops, chocolate cake and the most popular item, the Napoleon. For $3.99, this large puff pastry is flaky, lightly sweet and filled with yellow custard. Although a fork is provided, one tends to abandon proper table manners and simply shovel bites into one’s mouth as quickly as possible. It’s delicious. The chocolate cake, while not as decadent, is surprisingly well-crafted. This small, frosting-encased, diamond-shaped cake comes with a layer of light chocolate mousse on the inside ($3.75).
The shop is located across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr. Library and was bustling the two times I visited. There’s not a lot of space inside, but with the couch in the corner, stools set up along the windows and tables outside, the environment is comfortable and friendly. A chat with the owner revealed that she has put serious time and effort into making quality drinks. She went to Taiwan to study the art of tea-making. (And she does make all her teas in-store.) She then attended barista school to explore the art of coffee. She wants to roast her own coffee, but a large roaster would be too big for the shop, and a small roaster just wouldn’t make enough at once to justify the expense, she explained.
The teas are all milk teas and can be ordered hot or cold. Tapioca pearl teas are an additional quarter. Of the half-dozen teas, I tried a hot Oolong milk tea ($2.75), which starts out bitter followed by a gradual increase of honeylike sweetness. The foamy milk connects the flavors well. I also ordered a cold Ceylon milk tea, which is a sweeter, creamier drink, with a gentler tea flavor. This one I ordered with pearls, which were generously added.
My latte was smooth and subtly bitter the way I believe a latte should be. They are available in the usual sizes starting at $3.25. The drip coffee was a little watery, but I liked it by the end of the cup ($1.35 and up).
Amor Cafe and Tea
110 E. San Fernando Ave., San Jose; 408.286.2000