Similar to the under $10 a bottle wine game that my dad introduced to me, I now might just consider myself the Dora the Explorer of lattes - constantly hunting for the best latte when my diet and bank account allow it. So, far Orange County has been fairly limited when it comes to the latte scene (in my opinion), however, travel North for an hour and you can be in coffee heaven! Coffee is my muse…take notes boys...
Portola Coffee Lab is a trek, however one could compare it to the Willy Wonk's Chocolate Factory of Caffeine. Haven't been there? Worth the trip, trust me, there is so much to get hung up on in The Mix aside for coffee. The Lab offers every type of coffee you can dream of, they even have classes at The Theorem where you can learn about classic brews to espresso to lattes. The roast their beans there, a smell that reminds me of my hometown coffee shop in Crested Butte. The service is kind and friendly - the coffee is quick, but, filled with love - the latte art is always great, to the point where I hate putting the lid on my paper cup. You can sit at a plain jane table, cozy up on a couch, sit out in the sun under some lattice, or belly-up to the roasting bar - yes, seating is plentiful!
If you are willing to combat the lines outside Sidecar you can get some killer coffee. This place has none other than Stumptown on tap, and by tap I mean carefully crafted caffein beverages. Drinking Stumptown, makes me feel all fancy and stuff - heeeyyyyy! Okay, so a donut to accompany your scrumptious drink doesn't hurt…it generally just requires a few more extra miles on the bike. Hit this place on a weekday, right when they open, and you're stoked!
This is my weekend norm, my goodness Pie Not can whip up a killer flat white. The people that work there are always so friendly and welcoming - the pies are my demise because they are so delicious. I have YET to turn down one. My one complaint? The lids on the to-go cups, oy vey! Last time I went there I ended up with flat-white all over my kitchen counter, before I could even have a sip…I almost cried! All of their baristas must have a magic wand, literally, every latte tastes like I am drinking gold. Perhaps it is the Bun Coffee from Australia? Heck, I know that visually I am captivated enough by the easter egg colored pound bags that line Pie Not's shelves. So, who is buying me a latte tomorrow?
Pandor provides the BEST people watching in Orange County - you get a little bit of everything…from the Maserati's to the mom wrangling six-childen trying to get in the sliding doors to Ralphs. This place is very overly busy - and has outside seating. They always have a great assortment of baked goods (last weekend I tried a Dornut - yes, dor-nut!). They have killer breakfast plates, like the Newporter…and their lattes - YUM!!! There is something about the latte art that always makes me smile - I love seeing a heart awaiting me.
Obviously, there are a million great coffee places all over Southern California - I really look forward to exploring them all…one seaside town at a time!
Sending Love from SoCal!