We're Totally Smitten

Artisanal coffee is finally having a moment in Bakersfield, CA.

In my experience, those who do not hail from this central California small town have either never heard of it, or they admit to some variation of “It’s the perfect place to stop for gas on my way to _________ (fill in any northern big city, music festival, or other ideal location.)

Those who have grown up in ‘Bako’ (as us locals call it) will tell you it’s the land of farming, triple digit temps, and food chains galore. Thus, generations of Bako babes have caffeinated themselves on nothing but Starbucks, diner coffee, and a cup of jo from their closest McDonald's. Fortunately all of that changed in 2017 when husband and wife Shai & Stasie opened a gem called Café Smitten in the heart of downtown Bakersfield.

Everytime I go I’m greeted by a row of al fresco diners, wooden planters, and the heavenly smell of roasted coffee beans before reaching the front door. Inside, a modern mix of brick, wood, and steel serves as the backdrop for colorful souls, warm pastries, and comforting brews. It’s a haven for both social gatherings and solo agendas.


The menu skillfully caters to everyone from those simply wanting a caffeine fix, to others who are in need of a snack or even a meal (with gluten-free and vegan alterations available.) As a cold brew enthusiast myself, I order it routinely with a quick splash of almond milk. To say that I adore their cold brew is an understatement. I have no shame in admitting that the thought of them running out forever actually gives me anxiety. It’s just that damn good.

Their most popular item hands-down is the avocado toast. You can even sample all of their toast creations with a ‘toast flight’ (hello carbs with a side of carbs). For a lighter option I highly recommend the garbanzo bean salad with a side of tuna.

After I’ve ordered I take the wooden block displaying my order number and make my way to my favorite area - the patio. Located past the interior and through a garage-like wooden door, the patio is the perfect spot to veg in a wooden booth surrounded by greenery- think Tarzan meets minimalism. Trés Chic.

As the soft live music begins, my cold brew arrives in all of its rich, percolated glory. Could you blame a babe for wanting to stay all day until closing? Good, because I’ve totally done it.

Next time you’re passing through Bakersfield, treat yourself to more than a gas fill-up and check out Cafe Smitten! You might even make it the final destination.