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This adorable boba shop in a train caboose near San Francisco is the perfect post-hike treat

Simply throughout the road from one in all Pacifica’s hottest coastal climbing trails sits a bit of pink caboose that’s been was a restaurant. This in itself will not be distinctive — on this procuring plaza alone, there’s a barbecue spot in a transformed railcar in addition to an outdated prepare station that’s been remodeled right into a steakhouse. 

P-City Espresso and Tea, although, serves not solely your normal espresso and bagels, but in addition boba — a number of the finest I’ve ever had. And I’m saying this as a former resident of Berkeley, boba mecca of the Bay Space. 

Downtown Pacifica is viewable from the Mori Level Loop Path in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2021.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

After tackling the pretty brief however generally treacherous Mori Level Loop Path, I knew I deserved a reward. I’d endured slender stretches of rocky path nail-bitingly near the sting of a cliff, had my face mauled by the relentless wind and was out of breath after ascending the steep Bootlegger’s Steps. Certain, it was all extremely stunning, nevertheless it was lunchtime, and I’d had sufficient sand pelted at my face — I wanted to be someplace much less windy, ideally with snacks. 

Perhaps it’s my vegetarianism that made me beeline for P-City Espresso and Tea as a substitute of the 2 meatier choices close to the trailhead, however I’m glad I did. At first, the big block-lettered “COFFEE” signal on high of the caboose was what beckoned me, however one other signal beneath saying “boba tea,” in addition to a waving model in overalls and a pug flag flapping within the wind (extra on the pug theme later), sealed the deal.

A labyrinth and other rock formations are visible along the Mori Point Loop Trail in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2021.

A labyrinth and different rock formations are seen alongside the Mori Level Loop Path in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2021.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Inside, I used to be instantly overwhelmed by a protracted and eclectic boba menu, from Nutella milk tea to chipotle pineapple and mango. P-City seemingly had every thing: bagel sandwiches, pastries, a drool-worthy chocolate macadamia nut latte and even cute earrings on the market. 

The individual in entrance of me ordered the Rainbow Railroad, a really Instagrammable pastel pink and blue beverage made with butterfly pea flower tea, watermelon and cotton sweet. I used to be intrigued however settled on one thing rather less sugar-bomby: the strawberry mango mojito with inexperienced tea, as really useful to me by very pleasant co-owner Jeremy-Tristahn Bascara Jr. 

Left to right, the Nutella frappuccino, Ode to Pacifica (a taro white mocha), the Rainbow Railroad and Strawberry Mango Mojito are some of the signature boba and coffee drinks available at P-Town Coffee and Tea in Pacifica, Calif.

Left to proper, the Nutella frappuccino, Ode to Pacifica (a taro white mocha), the Rainbow Railroad and Strawberry Mango Mojito are a number of the signature boba and low drinks out there at P-City Espresso and Tea in Pacifica, Calif.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Because it seems, my drink was on the “secret menu,” a reference that took me straight again to my short-lived days as a Jamba Juice worker. This secret menu, nonetheless, wasn’t so secret — it was written in chalk on a small blackboard beneath the principle menu on the entrance counter. 

“It’s too laborious to suit every thing on the menu, so this provides a bit of little bit of attract to it, a bit of little bit of  novelty like, ‘Ooh, what is the secret menu?’” defined Bascara. 

The primary sip of my mojito boba, which was nonalcoholic, was heaven after a day spent breaking a sweat outdoors. Refreshingly fruity and never too candy, the pile of recent mint made it really feel a bit of refined. Basking within the solar on the espresso store’s homey out of doors seating space, I believe I downed it in 5 minutes flat.

Customers walk down the steps of P-Town Coffee and Tea, a cafe in a train caboose, in Pacifica, Calif.

Clients stroll down the steps of P-City Espresso and Tea, a restaurant in a prepare caboose, in Pacifica, Calif.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

This charming caboose lived many lives earlier than turning into P-City Espresso and Tea — most not too long ago as one other espresso store, and earlier than that as a jewellery retailer. A placard contained in the prepare automotive dates it again to 1935, when the earlier house owners believed it was a part of the historic Pacific Coast Railway, which ran from 1882 to 1941 on California’s Central Coast. 

Homeowners Bascara and Ashlee Shelton, a long-time Peet’s Espresso barista, stumbled throughout the caboose on Craigslist after deciding they wished to open their first enterprise collectively. Sadly, their opening day occurred to be March 1, 2020. 

“We did not have any concept what was going to occur 11 days later,” stated Shelton. “… The primary two weeks had been nice, after which it was actually gradual for 2 or three months.”

P-Town Coffee and Tea owners, center back, Ashlee Shelton and Jeremy-Tristahn Bascara Jr. help out customers inside their cafe in a train caboose in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15 ,2021.

P-City Espresso and Tea house owners, heart again, Ashlee Shelton and Jeremy-Tristahn Bascara Jr. assist out prospects inside their cafe in a prepare caboose in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15 ,2021.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

They used the downtime for analysis and improvement on new boba and low concoctions, and ultimately, enterprise picked again up. A 12 months and a half into the pandemic later, they stated they really feel lucky to nonetheless be standing.


“It’s one in all my favourite locations, so I used to be actually blissful that we discovered the place in Pacifica,” stated Shelton. “I’ve at all times wished to reside there.”

When the couple first started courting in 2018, Shelton was residing in San Jose, working two jobs whereas additionally going to high school, and Bascara was residing in San Francisco, working 70-hour weeks as an influence line employee. The concept to open a enterprise collectively got here partially from the easy need to spend extra time collectively (“Why did I wish to personal a espresso store? The reply, very like myself, will not be very complicated in any respect — I did it for my girlfriend, as a result of it was cheaper than a marriage ring,” jokes Bascara on the espresso store’s web site).

P-Town Coffee and Tea owners Ashlee Shelton and Jeremy-Tristahn Bascara Jr. have four pugs. Their love for pugs is evident in pug decor hidden around the store.

P-City Espresso and Tea house owners Ashlee Shelton and Jeremy-Tristahn Bascara Jr. have 4 pugs. Their love for pugs is obvious in pug decor hidden across the retailer.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“We’d have in the future each week the place we’d have the ability to get collectively,” defined Bascara. “… As a lot life that we sacrificed the ten years that we had been working six days per week and 14-hour days, with all the cash that we saved up, we might begin one thing on our personal and spend extra time collectively. Sadly, we opened in a loopy time, however fortunately we have been in a position to survive.”

Now, the couple has moved to Pacifica along with their 4 pugs, who’re celebrated with an array of pug paraphernalia within the store (even of their brand, for those who look carefully). They now spend six days per week collectively working within the comfortable 200-square-foot caboose — an entire 180 from how little time they used to have collectively.. 

“We run into one another so much. Throughout the weekend, it will get tremendous busy — it is like an artwork type, it is like a dance,” stated Bascara. “It took us some time to get used to one another and determine how every of us prefer to work, however after some time, it is form of like second nature.”

Two bicyclists take in the view of the shoreline along the Mori Point Loop Trail in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2021.

Two bicyclists take within the view of the shoreline alongside the Mori Level Loop Path in Pacifica, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2021.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Whereas Shelton and Bascara inherited a lot of the bagel and low menu from the earlier espresso store, the addition of boba was all them. There weren’t many different boba retailers in Pacifica, so it felt like a wise enterprise determination — plus, boba “makes for a pleasant reward after you go climbing or browsing,” stated Bascara.

They began out with the fundamentals, however then started experimenting with extra distinctive flavors they appreciated, impressed by every thing from Bascara’s love of Nutella to Shelton’s love of mojitos. 

“Once we first began courting, we’d frequent Dutch Bros so much,” defined Bascara. “So our place is like an homage to Dutch Bros and a boba tea store in San Jose that we appreciated to go to so much.”

"The 56," a bagel with cream cheese, bacon, tomato and pesto, is one of the specialties at P-Town Coffee and Tea in Pacifica, Calif.

“The 56,” a bagel with cream cheese, bacon, tomato and pesto, is among the specialties at P-City Espresso and Tea in Pacifica, Calif.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Whereas the caboose’s quirky setting and numerous boba flavors are tempting sufficient, it’s the house owners’ heat personalities that make P-City Espresso definitely worth the journey out to foggy Pacifica.

“One individual informed me that they might get a frappuccino wherever, however they arrive right here for the pleasant service,” stated Shelton. 

“The place else are you able to get boba and low and earrings and pastries and bagels in a single place?” added Bascara. “It’s every thing that we love. It’s principally our personalities within the retailer … perhaps it is a bit overwhelming, however we’re simply doing our factor.”

Customers enjoy the outdoor seating at P-Town Coffee and Tea, located in a train caboose, in Pacifica, Calif.

Clients benefit from the out of doors seating at P-City Espresso and Tea, positioned in a prepare caboose, in Pacifica, Calif.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Extra “Meals Definitely worth the Journey”



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