2nd Story Bakeshop‘s inviting space is actually on the first floor. Christa, the friendly clerk, tells me “second story” refers to the second episode of one owner’s career.

The dark-stained ceiling boards, a counter made of fruit crates and wood shelves were all handmade. Two young women, bread baker Cailin Bryant and pastry chef Christy Ikezi, started the downtown San Jose shop, which opened in March and is take-out only for now.

The bakeshop offers amazing pastries, unique bread varieties, Barefoot coffee and singular teas—all with an eye to organic local sourcing and fair trade.

First, the sweets. I love it when socially-conscious food is delicious and reasonably priced. The treats ranged from very good to exquisite, and all seemed to be baked fresh that morning. My companion ordered a big slice of moist Apple-Walnut Bread ($3.25) and a mounded peanut butter chocolate-chip cookie ($2) sprinkled with sugar. 2nd Story uses fair-trade TCHO chocolate, which was dark and melty.

A large square Lemon Bergamot Bar ($3.50) had a bright, moussey topping and soft shortbread bottom. I couldn’t taste the bergamot but didn’t miss it.

When I saw the Chocolate Rosemary Bar ($3.50) I thought, “Right, a trendy combo people pretend to like.” An invention of the pastry chef, it was my absolute favorite. A meringue top sank into a liquidy chocolate middle and shortbread bottom, with the rosemary subtly blending in. My second favorite, the Strawberry Pie Cookie ($2), is a new addition after Apple Pie Cookies seasoned out. It reminded me of what pie crust is supposed to be yet hardly ever is: flakey but not dry or crackly. It had just a touch of strawberry.

Next, the breads. They change weekly and I plan to return for a Friday special: lemon-chili loaf. A Bloody Mary loaf ($7.50) was dark-crusted, round and ultra-fresh, made with pureed tomato, olives, garlic, celery seeds and cayenne. It was a tad too hot until I tried it with avocado slices at home; my companion pronounced it “addictive.”

Three types of Barefoot roasted coffee ($3 small, $3.75 large) were hand-poured and stored in carafes. The Redcap was dark and sweet, the kind a milk addict like myself could happily drink black. My Yirgacheffe coffee, a bit beanier, was delicious but tepid—so Christa replaced it immediately.

2nd Story Bakeshop is the essence of personal touch in ambience, ingredients and service, the polar opposite of McFood. This bright, healthy bakery should have a bright, healthy future.

2nd Story Bakeshop 
138 E Santa Clara St, San Jose.
Tues–Fri, 6:30am–1pm.