Coffee connoisseur, coffee geek, coffee nerd – I’ve even seen the term “cafeliers.” They’re all used to describe those of us who enjoy a great cup of coffee and are on the never-ending search for the truly unique places in which to do so. For those of us who live in SoCal, there’s an abundance of places to choose from.
To help narrow it down, here are eight places where they know what’s what when it comes to coffee and can help you achieve coffee nirvana.
Located in a somewhat industrial area of Newport Beach, Common Room Roasters is the kind of space that just makes you want to hang out and enjoy some of the incredible, small batch beans they are roasting. Sourcing green coffee beans from Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Brazil and Guatemala, co-founders Jeremy Creighton and Ed Moffatt, two Australian mates, are constantly sourcing, cupping and testing to ensure they have a consistently great product. And they do! If you’re used to the harsh, bitter, over-the-top coffee served at some of the chains, you are going to be blown away by how smooth this coffee is. Once you find them you’re not going to want to leave.
882 Production Place, Newport Beach
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 3pm; (closed Sundays)
Started by brothers Alan and Alex Morales in 2012 with little more than an old truck and a dream, Civil Coffee opened the doors to its brick and mortar location in LA’s historic Highland Park in late 2015. A rotating lineup of single origin coffee is offered with each visit, promising consistent and new flavors to enjoy. A beautiful space and excellent coffee is waiting for you.
5629 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles
Hours: Open daily, 7am – 5pm
Minimalist and spacious, Rose Park Roasters Coffee Bar in DTLB is a great place to grab a cappuccino and get some work done. (Or at least pretend to get some work done!) Offering responsibly sourced coffee beans from Peru, Ecuador and Rwanda, to name just a few, they’re open at 6am every day for those early birds among us. Be sure to take home some of their Rwanda Kanzu #6 for home brewing. You won’t be disappointed.
3044 E 4th St, Long Beach
Hours: Open daily, 6am – 6pm
A true escape from the city, entering into Coffee Colab you’ll feel like you’ve entered an old store that’s been around forever. As a special bonus, your furry friends are welcome to come in with you. Serving killer beans from Suit & Knives, the menu is primarily espresso and cold brews. There’s tasty stuff being turned out by the very talented and friendly baristas. But don’t order a cold brew unless you like your coffee strong. This is not the cold brew being served up by the chains; a 24-hour process assures it will be unlike any cold brew you’ve had before.
305 E 8th St, Unit 3, Los Angeles
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am – 5pm; Saturday-Sunday, 8am – 5pm
“Attention to detail,” “consistently good,” “Fair Trade sourced coffee beans” – all phrases that describe Augie’s in Redlands. Housed in an old red house in the middle of what’s become a thriving art scene, there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating for everyone, and fast, free wifi as well. Be sure and try their lavender latte when you go. Plus, check out their Facebook page for info on their Open Mic Nights and other events they regularly host.
113 N. 5th Street, Redlands
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6am – 9pm; Sunday, 630am – 8pm
Walking into Alta Coffee you’ll swear you just turned into an old farmhouse. There are lots of good eats available for sure, but the coffee is the star here. Their organic certified coffee beans, roasted every morning in small batches by Wilson Coffee Roasters, is the base for the Macchiato, the Red Eye or any of the other drinks on the menu. I’m a purist and like to stop by and grab a large Coffee of the Day whenever I’m in the area.
506 31st Street, Newport Beach
Hours: Monday to Friday, 6am – 10pm; Saturday-Sunday, 7am – 10pm
Originally opened in Costa Mesa in The Mix at SOCO, my go to location is in Lot 579 at Pacific City in Huntington Beach. Portola Coffee Roasters prides itself on finding the right combination of grind size, dosage, water volume and water temperature as well as technique. Don’t expect to order and receive a quick cup of coffee poured from the metal container sitting behind the baristas. Portola is much too meticulous in sourcing just the right coffee beans to insult them by treating them so pedestrian. But don’t think for a minute this purveyor of fine coffee is pretentious, they are anything but! Stop in, fire up the laptop, log in to their free wifi, and then hit up the barista with any questions that come to mind about that drink you just ordered. They love engaging with their customers and you’ll learn just what goes into making an exquisite cup of coffee.
Locations in Costa Mesa, Tustin, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach & Mission Viejo
Founded in 2007 in Santa Cruz by buds Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr, Verve Coffee Roasters had a mission. They pay their farmers premiums for the coffee beans they’re sourcing, which exceed Fair Trade minimums, with no exceptions. And their coffee is illustrative of the old adage “You get what you pay for.” Their DTLA location on Spring Street is inviting and puts off a “community” vibe, I dare say. The custom community table – I love this – is a large part of the well laid out space and almost requires that you speak to the other human sitting across or next to you. You’re going to want to make this a part of your daily routine.
833 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7am – 7pm; Saturday-Sunday, 7am – 8pm