Diner in disguise: Caffé Santoro cures the coffee shop blues
“So … do you know what business we’re in?” Caffé Santoro owner Ken Santoro asks.
Without hesitation, after speaking to Ken for a few minutes, I answer ,“I would have to say the customer service business, Ken.”
Yes they are, indeed, very customer-centric and locally minded, and Caffé Santoro’s staff show it in a number of ways. The first thing you notice as you walk in the door is Ken behind the counter, working like a madman but with a perpetual smile on his face and addressing his customers by name. In some cases Ken and his staff are even working on their orders before they order, sometimes by virtue of people being able to text in their orders! What a wonderful, and very convenient, time to be alive. Name a corporate coffee chain within a hundred miles that does that and I’ll buy you a double latté. Heck, I’ll even buy you a croissant to go with it.
What I’m trying to say, is that Caffé Santoro is a special place, a rarity in this “hurry up” drive-by culture. It’s a place where everyone knows your name and drink of choice.
Caffé Santoro’s drink menu offers a wide array of classic caffeinated concoctions — lattés, espresso shots, mochas (Ghiradelli chocolate’s an option!), blended drinks (smoothies, frappé’s and even milkshakes) — at reasonable prices and in addition to not-so-usual drinks — Chai tea, something called a “Big S Caramel Apple” (gotta try that one) and a “Big Blended Red Bull” that’ll no doubt keep you awake for days. In addition, there’s something called ‘The Cure”, which I have not yet tried. Ken explains it thusly: “A drink that’ll cure you of all those other blended drink blues.” You’ll have to go there to find out what it is.
They serve great food as well, and as I’m here during lunch time I treat myself to a chicken salad sandwich on marble rye. Whenever I see a marble rye I always think of that “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry steals a particularly magnificent loaf from an old woman.
But I digress. The sandwich was really special, and the reason it was special was the addition of some Craisins (dried cranberries). It added a different texture and a sweetness that I wasn’t expecting, and blended perfectly with the succulent chicken filling. In addition to homemade deli and panini sandwiches, the most popular food items on their menu are their Big “S” Bagel Breakfast sandwiches: your choice of bagel (plain, poppy, cheddar jalapeño, etc), cheese and meat (bacon, ham or sausage). Add avocado for that creamy texture and it’ll only set you back a mere 50 cents! I’ll be coming back for one of these … that’s for certain.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Caffé Santoro’s website:
“Translated from Italian, Caffé Santoro means “coffee the Santoro way,” and for our family, that’s more than just great coffee. Sure, we’ve got the great coffee, but it’s also the only place in the foothills where you’ll get coffee with personality, served with a dose of laughter and authentic hospitality.
We hope that when you visit us, you experience an extension of our home — warm, inviting and a place where you can connect with family and friends.”
Caffé Santoro is located at 2531 Merrychase Drive in Cameron Park, off Cambridge Road. Their phone number is (530) 387-4432.