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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Best Coffee: Mishka’s

UC Davis votes alumni-run coffee shop for best coffee

By MAYA SHYDLOWSKI — features@theaggie.org

For the second year in a row, Mishka’s has won the category of best coffee for The Aggie’s Best of Davis issue. 

Mishka’s, a European-inspired cafe located on 2nd Street, received 35.8% of the votes for best coffee. It is a popular place for professors, students and permanent Davis residents alike.

Sinisa Novakovic is the owner of Mishka’s and a two-time alumnus of UC Davis. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in genetics in 1991 and completed his doctoral studies in microbiology in 2002. 

Mishkas’ Cafe in Downtown Davis. ( The Aggie)

During his time at Davis, he longed for the kind of cafes he would frequent in his home country of Yugoslavia, so he decided to open one himself.

“There’s a magical charm in being able to go to a town you’ve never been before and see a local shop that is attractive and unique,” Novakovic said.

He started his business with certain qualities in mind. He wanted his products to be in line with his values, so he opted to work with a local coffee importer, Royal Coffee, that supplies him with organic and fair trade coffee. 

Those two things are dear to my heart and I passionately believe in them, so that’s what I’m going to use,” Novakovic said. “It’s my own set of ethical beliefs, I suppose. I eat organic food and I wouldn’t give my kids anything else, so I think that it’s the right thing to serve customers according to that standard.”

Many of the pastries are also baked in-house. Alison Biggs is a manager and pastry chef at Mishka’s. Biggs, a UC Davis graduate herself, worked at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco before moving back to the Davis area and landing a job at Mishka’s. Novakovic said that Biggs worked at Mishka’s as an undergraduate and went on to study as a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, and came back to open arms at the coffee shop. 

Biggs makes between one-third and one-half of the pastries from scratch every morning, according to Novakovic. Another third of the pastries are baked from the freezer and the remainder are sourced from a local supplier. 

The individual care that Mishka’s puts into its products is part of the reason customers keep coming back. Anja Knjazeva, a fourth-year managerial economics student, appreciates all the details that make Mishka’s so unique. 

“It feels homey in there,” Knjazeva said. “It feels authentic. You can tell their pastries are freshly made every morning, not like Peet’s or Starbucks.” 

Rebeka Zeljko, a third-year political science student, shared a similar sentiment.

“I like Mishka’s because the set up inside is really unique,” Zeljko said. “The tables are configured in a warm and conversational way. Their coffee and pastries are also exceptional, and a notable signature is that they include a small chocolate-covered espresso bean with every coffee. It’s a cute and memorable touch.”

This is the feeling that Novakovic was hoping to create at his coffee shop. Despite his success, he said that he does not want to expand because he likes that his coffee shop is not a chain. He wants to preserve the charm of the independent cafe. 

Novakovic also said that between managing his two other businesses, the Davis Varsity Theater and Icekrimski Cafe, and taking care of his two sons, he is busy and content with where he currently stands.

Written by: Maya Shydlowski — features@theaggie.org

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