If you're looking for a little bit of Portugal in Placer County, you don't have to go far to find it. Nestled in what's known as The Gem of the Foothills, Newcastle has evidence of its Portuguese roots proudly displayed from landmarks to coffee. I know coffee may not be the first thing you think of when hearing Portuguese, but trust me, you'll forever make that association after visiting North Fork Chai Company. Okay, I imagine you're now thinking there's nothing more confusing than deciphering how you get to Portugal from a coffee house in Newcastle that advertises itself as a chai company. Truly I get it but stay with me to see how this whole thing makes sense, and not only does it make sense, but North Fork Chai Company will also draw you to it again and again. Read on to learn about this treasure that’s hidden in plain sight in Newcastle.
Roots from Azores, Portugal
Full disclosure, I'm from a little island named Terceira that sits off the coast of Portugal. Terceira is one of nine islands that have been Portuguese since the 1400s. Over 90 percent of the Portuguese people living in California are from the Azores rather than Portugal itself. I can write for hours about anything related to the Azores and Portugal. Okay, end of disclosure.
While Azorean Portuguese have been in the United States for centuries, most of us immigrated and quickly assimilated primarily in California's Central Valley, in the East Bay area, in the Artesia area of southern CA, in San Diego and in Placer and Sacramento counties. Wherever a person could find work in the dairy, fishing, and farming industries, the Azorean Portuguese brought their skills from the old country and planted deep roots. Placer County, especially from Loomis to Ophir, produced fruit shipped all over the United States! The families that owned and worked on fruit orchards and in Newcastle's infamous packing sheds still live in Newcastle to this day. One of them is the Vega family, who, through four generations, has gone from orchardists to coffee house owners. The same steadfast work ethic that brought the family here many years ago is evident in every detail of North Fork Chai Company. From coffee to chai to baked goods, you will not find anything more delicious than the offerings at this Gem of the Foothill's hidden gem.
Cookies to Scones
One of the magical elements of a small town is that you often find evidence of the past in a modern version that’s equally as heartwarming. Such is the case with the brother and sister duo of Chelsea and Joshua. With great pride, I can say I've been the fortunate recipient of this family's baked goods since childhood. From the early 1960s to her passing years later, Miss Jeanie Vega baked sugar cookies for her neighborhood's kids. Her home was always open to anyone wanting to stop by for what seemed like an endless supply of freshly baked cookies! To this day, Miss Vega's generosity and hospitality remain a fond recollection of many people's history. While she lives in the same house that once belonged to her great-great-aunt, Chelsea's magical baked goods are produced and shared across town at North Fork Chai Company. Anything she bakes is exceptionally delicious, but she's best known for her scones. Words can't adequately describe what happens when you take someone who is a naturally gifted baker and have her formally trained at Napa Valley's Culinary Institute of America. Only tasting one of the scones at North Fork Chai Company to properly appreciate Chelsea's gifts. Well, that isn't actually true because Chelsea's scones are sold in other eateries throughout this area because they are pretty famous. But what makes a great scone greater? Coffee and chai.
All the Good Stuff
I can't say enough about the high quality of everything offered at North Fork Chai Company. The coffee, Cat & Cloud, is always prepared to perfection whether you drink it black or enjoy a skillfully crafted latte, mocha, or cappuccino. Joshua and Chelsea make an excellent pair because he’s as talented of a barista as she is a baker. Joshua is also the creator of North Fork Chai which he's perfected into a top-rated product with chai lovers. Before opening North Fork Chai Company, Joshua already had a solid wholesale chai business. In fact, you'll now see North Fork Chai on local grocery shelves because nothing else compares to the quality of this product. Hot or cold, this chai is a beautiful combination of spicy, savory, and sweet. Not only is there the famous North Fork Chai in its original presentation, but there are seasonal blends that are equally as delicious. But all the good stuff doesn't stop with sweets, coffee, and chai. If you’re a breakfast sandwich, soup, and quiche person, these offerings are prepared to the same high standard as everything else prepared by Joshua and Chelsea. As you would expect from decedents of farmers and bakers, all the ingredients used are locally sourced and freshly prepared by someone in the family.
Chelsea and Joshua have done an outstanding job of carrying on the gifts and talents curated over generations. Their hospitality and warmth are evidenced in everything they create from drink, food, and surroundings. Whether you come to pick up something to go or choose to spend time on the comfortable patio, you'll immediately see why North Fork Chai Company is so popular. Even you didn't grow up treated to Miss Vega's sugar cookies, there's something about North Fork Chai Company that takes you back to a time when you felt most nurtured. Thanks to Chelsea and Joshua, there's at least one Portuguese family that continues to grace the Gem of the Foothills with heartwarming treats.
Stanford Ranch Self Storage
Newcastle is an easy and short drive from Rocklin. Stanford Ranch Self Storage is proud to learn about surrounding towns like Newcastle as your neighborhood self-storage facility. It allows us to discover and promote family-owned businesses like North Fork Chai Company. We consider ourselves fortunate to share a community with other businesses that offer the same excellent standards we provide. Stanford Ranch Self Storage is a state-of-the-art facility with the highest standards found in the industry, and we pride ourselves on our welcoming service. Please visit us to see how we can be your self-storage solution, and while visiting, don't forget to tell us about your favorite local businesses. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
North Fork Chai Company
661 Suite B, Newcastle Rd (right by Denny's)
Newcastle, CA 95658
Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.