Coupa Café at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) can be a fantastic place to get brunch, especially over the summer. The menu ranges from traditional breakfast items — like coffees, teas, omelets and waffles — to traditional Venezuelan arepas. The food is light but tasty, and not greasy or heavy. Though perhaps too expensive to frequent every day, it remains less pricey than similar options on and around University Avenue and El Camino Real and benefits from its location.
Founded by siblings Jean-Paul Coupal ’07 and Camelia Coupal ’05 and their mother, Nancy Coupal, Coupa Café’s first store opened in 2004 in downtown Palo Alto and met with great success. Since then, the duo has opened up eateries all over University property, with locations in the Y2E2 Building, outside Green Library, in the Huang Engineering Center and most recently at the Stanford Golf Course.
“Our family were coffee roasters in Venezuela,” explained Jean-Paul Coupal, “and that’s one of the reasons why our coffee tastes so good.”
Coupa Café arranged a sampling of brunch dishes for The Daily, starting with a selection of beverages: a cup of drip coffee ($2.75), a latte ($3), a cappuccino ($3) and Coupa’s popular chai tea latte ($3). The chai tea lived up to the hype with a fantastic bouquet of spices, subtle enough to pair with food without being overpowering. The coffee — made from 100% Arabic single source beans, hand-selected and roasted in Venezuela by the Coupal family — offered a deeper flavor and a less sharp kick. Coupa also serves a well-balanced spiced hot chocolate ($3.75), which is not overly sweet. It may be best paired with savory food to prevent the cinnamon aftertaste from being too strong. Coupa Café also serves beer and wine and, on weekends, bottomless mimosas.
The highlight of the meal was the Venezuelan arepas — wheat-free and gluten-free cornmeal griddlecakes filled with a wide variety of stuffings. The breakfast arepa ($6.50) is stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon and Gouda, and is served hot. It’s crisp on the outside yet extremely soft on the inside. The Perico platter ($7.50), an arepa stuffed with scrambled eggs, tomatoes and onions, was also excellent.
For a great variation on traditional breakfast food, try the popular JP Waffle ($6.50), topped with fresh bananas and strawberries and served with chocolate Nutella. Pair the sweet waffles with a neutral or bitter coffee beverage, like an espresso or cappuccino. The stuffed omelets ($7.50) are also delicious, served light and fluffy with crunchy and fresh vegetables.