As most of you know, I recently made the Big Move from Los Angeles to Pasadena. Although it's taken some adjusting, I'm really loving living over here! It's such a delightful city, and it encompasses (or is surrounded by) so many neat little areas - Old Town, Pasadena City College, South Pas, Sierra Madre, Altadena, Arcadia, San Marino...
One of my favorite things about exploring a new city (or at least a new-ish city) is discovering all the coffee shops and fun places to write. I think this is in large part because I'm addicted to coffee, but it's also because I'm in love with the ambiance of a good coffee shop! It's very inspiring to me to sit among strangers, to watch dates and friends and co-workers come and go and talk and commune.
And of course, there's the single visitors, like me, who set up camp in the corner with their computers and their books and their headphones and their water bottles. I come to think of these folks as my silent buddies while we're there. Those other people - they're just passing through. We're in it for the duration. It's similar to how you get when you're on a really long road trip, and you end up riding along with two other vehicles for over an hour at the same speed, and you're sort of sad when you finally have to get off to go to the bathroom because you've formed this strange connection with Blue Jetta and Black Tahoe! (Does anyone else do this? I know my mom does. So at least she gets it.)
Anyway, knowing the good coffee shops around me has helped me to feel more entrenched in this neighborhood. I now have my go-to spots for when I need some time alone (or when I'll need to get out of the house with the bebe for a few minutes).
One note on location - I didn't name any of the coffee shops in Old Town because everyone knows about those. These are the fun little coffee spots tucked away from the more popular sections of Pasadena.
So without further ado, here are my favorites thus far:
JAMESON BROWN COFFEE ROASTERS
260 Allen Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106
Mood: Since they brew their own coffee here, it's got a neat industrial vibe - lots of brick and stainless steel. It's a fun mix of people because it's close to PCC (so lots of students) and Bungalow Heaven (so lots of moms). An equal number of people camped out to work and people hanging on the couches to catch up.
Food: Lots of locally made pastries and baked goods. I've sampled a few and been pleased.
Coffee: They brew all their own coffee, so they know a LOT about coffee. They are happy to help you figure out what flavor you're interested in, as well as how it would be best served. But they aren't pretentious - their coffees are simple and delicious.
Parking: Street parking and plenty of it.
The Best Part: They sell their coffee here, which makes a great gift for a visiting relative or your friend who won't stop talking about coffee beans.
LAVENDER & HONEY ESPRESSO BAR
1383 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104
Mood: Super cute. All white. It's pretty tiny and has those community tables where you snuggle up next to your neighbors. But everybody's cool with it! There are some other smaller tables inside as well, and then they have tables out front and on their adorable patio area. The clientele is a mix of hipsters, families, and students - I like it!
Food: This place is great for a light lunch! They have a pretty kickass toast bar, as well as a variety of sandwiches and salads. I've had the avocado on toast, the pb & banana on toast, and the caprese sandwich. I loved them all (I think they just have really good bread). In addition to these offerings, they have the usual pastries, sweets, and whatnot.
Coffee: They use Klatch beans, which I'm not familiar with but the Yelp Coffee Community seems into them. Anyway, the various drip coffees and lattes I've had here have been tasty and delightful.
Parking: There's a big old lot right behind the building! Hooray for free easy parking.
The Best Part: I love that this is a combo coffee shop and cafe. As much as I love pastries and baked goods, sometimes you need a little more sustenance (but still want to hunker down behind your laptop for two hours). This is my go-to midday coffee shop that offers cheap, healthy, and yummy lunches.
56 E Duarte Rd #2, Arcadia, CA 91006
|All this, on top of a gym!|
Mood: This place is straight out of a dream. It's so strange and lovely and eclectic. For starters, it's on top of a gym...so you have to go into the gym's lobby and even sign your name on the guest list, and then you go upstairs to the cafe. But once you're up there...it's as if you've been transported to another world! You're in this delightful little Korean coffee shop...all light and airy and beautifully decorated with this sweet, calming Korean pop music playing throughout. It's wonderful! The people there were all kind and respectful - students, couples, some moms and their kids. But overall it was pretty quiet at lunch time midweek.
Food: Lots of options here! I got a banana and Nutella waffle which was scrumptious. But they also have lots of baked goods, as well as sandwiches and affogato.
Coffee: They have a terrific selection of fun caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks! I got a delicious French vanilla latte, but I was very jealous of my neighbor's iced Oreo latte. And they get major points for style and presentation (see pictures below).
Parking: There's a parking lot at the gym, so you're good to go!
The Best Part: The whimsical ambiance is so refreshing
|This is how my latte arrived. And yes, that's a bonus cream puff!|
|Top view. DID YOU THINK IT COULD GET ANY CUTER?!|
1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103
Mood: Lincoln is the big sister to Little Flower Candy Co, which I LOVE. As far as a place to hang out, it offers much more space and many more food options than Little Flower. It's open and wide and airy with a great patio and big tables. It has an open kitchen, which I'm really into for some reason. The decor is minimal and plant-based. As it's just on the border of Altadena, it's filled with older people and stay-at-home-parents and their babies, and I found them all to be very pleasant.
Food: Lincoln is a straight up cafe with a full menu. They are perfect for breakfast or brunch. Also they sell all the pastries that Little Flower offers, and man oh man, are those my favorite in the city! Seriously, I LOVE their selection of scones and muffins. And quiches. And tarts. And everything.
Coffee: They serve Stumptown coffee, which I loooove. It's nothing fancy - just good basic coffee and lattes. One thing I really liked - my friend Natalia and I were there for three hours, and they came over and offered to refill our coffees, even though it's not that kind of restaurant. It was very sweet!
Parking: There's a small lot in front and a larger lot to the side. Otherwise, there's plenty of street parking too. Just don't park in the alley!
The Best Part: Sometimes it's nice to not have wifi. It makes you focus on what you're doing! Also, they have a little store next door which has the cutest stuff! It's all so tastefully curated. I wanted to buy it all.
TAZA (A SOCIAL COFFEE HOUSE)tazacoffee.com
11 W. Huntington Dr, Arcadia 91007
Mood: What a cute little hole in the wall! This place is small, but it can fit a decent number of people - there were at least 15 patrons there, including me. It's definitely a place you come to stay and camp out - everyone had their laptops out! Lots of young Asian students but also older working folks having meetings outside of the office and that sort of thing. It's very comfortable but stylish inside. One note - they technically don't have a public bathroom, but they seem to let folks use their employee one.
Food: Your basic baked goods and whatnot. Apparently they also have waffles. But pretty slim pickings as far as food goes.
Coffee: They serve Blue Bottle coffee, which I think is all the rage right now. I got your basic drip and was very happy with it. I think they take their espresso pretty seriously here, but I just wasn't feeling a latte that day.
Parking: There's a small lot in back and plenty of street parking.
The Best Part: How calm and relaxed the environment is. It truly is a social coffee house, so everyone is down to share space and be respectful of each other and the noise level. I felt like I could easily hang out there for three hours, no problem.