Coffee Conspiracy goes from bike to building 

Eddie Alaniz serves a Coffee Conspiracy customer along East Cliff Drive in 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

After three years of selling coffee by bike and in various pop-up locations, Eddie Alaniz is taking a run at the brick-and-mortar life, bringing Coffee Conspiracy for a six-month trial at the spot that’s been occupied by Central Coast Juicery on Locust Street in downtown Santa Cruz.

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This is not a joke. Eddie Alaniz will hold his last Coffee Conspiracy pop-up at downtown Santa Cruz’s Honey B Market on Saturday, April 1.

But never fear, coffee lovers, he’s not going far. In fact, he’ll be just around the corner, at Central Coast Juicery on Locust Street. After close to three years of selling coffee by bike and doing various pop-up events, Coffee Conspiracy is getting a (semi) permanent home.

There’s still some work to be done, but by April 20, Alaniz plans to open his new brick-and-mortar shop. He will continue to sell Central Coast Juicery’s bottled juices, but he’ll be transforming the space into his own Coffee Conspiracy cafe. It will start as a six-month trial, with the goal being for Alaniz to take over the lease and make it Coffee Conspiracy’s permanent home.

“This takeover is a great opportunity for me to try and stand the brand on its own two legs,” said Alaniz, who started his business after getting laid off from Verve Coffee Roasters in early 2020.

In the new space, he plans to serve a full menu of specialty drinks, some made with homemade organic syrups like a cardamom syrup made with coconut sugar and a lavender one sweetened with raw honey. Among the other (non-coffee) offerings will be “the Awakening,” a golden milk made with turmeric and ginger, and “the Realignment,” Alaniz’ take on chai. He’ll provide raw milk from Monterey County and raw almond milk from Central Coast Juicery, and, by popular request, drip coffee. He aims to work with other local vendors to provide food, with plans for a special pizza pop-up for the opening.

Eddie Alaniz serves up a cold brew from Coffee Conspiracy, his pop-up shop.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“I’m involved with every aspect of the business, from sourcing to roasting, to bagging, extracting, brewing and serving,” he said. “This allows me to be hyper focused on the product.”

Downtown has no shortage of coffee spots, but Alaniz is confident that he brings a little something different to the mix, something edgier that “lets my punk rock roots show through” while still being fun and approachable.

Transitioning from a pop-up to a brick-and-mortar is a little bit daunting, but also exciting, he said. When he initially started selling cold-brew coffee from a bike on East Cliff Drive, he had no idea where it would lead, but he’d always wanted to start his own brand.

“I got laid off and thought, ‘I never want to get one of these [a layoff notice] again,’” he said. “I never wanted to work for anyone else again.”

Even moving to the Honey B space felt like a “crazy jump,” but it’s paid off. Coffee Conspiracy also has its first wholesale account, with Jessica Yarr’s The Grove in Felton.

“I’m super excited for the progression from bike to pop-up to this,” he said of the new shop. “The bike was proof of concept.”