Pasadena Coffee Culture

Where to get your buzz on.

For many of us, coffee is a near-religious experience—and our feelings about our favorite place for a cup or two of joe borders on worship. These cafés offer community, and sometimes even a cause behind the bean (which is actually a seed from the Coffea plant). Here are some of our favorite local spots to hang out for a casual pit stop or a more scientific approach to your daily caffeine.

The coolest coffee shop in town, Intelligentsia, chose its location on Colorado Blvd. in Old Pasadena to launch the U.S. debut of its latest concept, the Illumination Bar. The brand has transformed the 2,000-square-foot space into a sleek retreat with high ceilings, reclaimed brick walls, and neutral tones, where coffee sommeliers and experimentation labs take center stage.

As a thoughtfully sourced roasted-coffee pioneer for a quarter century, Intelligentsia encourages you to mill around an approachable central island termed the “Instant Bar,” which features La Marzocco’s innovative new espresso-making process with a hands-free milk steamer named “Wally.” While the glass beakers and magnetic stir plate might look scientific, the unique design of the luminescent counter allows baristas to craft the new instant Black Cat classic espresso on demand, while directly engaging with the customer, akin to the role of a sommelier at a wine bar.

Local favorite Jones Coffee Roasters specializes in community combined with tradition. The company owns a direct-trade coffee farm in Guatemala and only deals with other sustainable and ethical farms from Sumatra to Rwanda. While the Vroman’s location is closed, it offers options on Raymond Avenue, Mission Street in South Pasadena, and a drive-through on Arroyo Parkway. As if that wasn’t enough, next time you head to Burbank airport, look for one of its three licensed locations.

Rosebud Coffee started as a roving cart around town and still empowers homeless and transitional-aged youth, teaching them the craft of good coffee. Its brick and mortar on East Colorado is a casual spot with plenty of space for lingering over a macchiato or flat white.

Other local fan favorites for sipping and staying awhile in Old Pasadena include Copa Vida, which also has good breakfast and lunch selections and is known for custom brews like the Gesha from Costa Rica. For vegans, Coffee and Plants offers 100% plant-based options and nondairy creamers with an ample courtyard to enjoy. If you long for a café that flips to host wine tastings on Thursday nights, Republik Coffee Lounge is your spot.


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Apsara in San Marino is a neighborhood staple offering single-origin, certified organic roasts, where the friendly owner, Raju Ceerla, is also a draw. Grassroots favorite Holy Grounds in Alhambra reopened in March and is popular for hot and cold brews.

Kumquat Coffee—voted the one of the best in the state by Food and Wine—is serving up matcha lattes and mochas with bean-to-bar Dandelion Chocolate on York in Highland Park. Cult favorite Civil Coffee on Figueroa just expanded to the Fashion District in downtown L.A. with its delicious drip coffees and espressos.

LGBTQ+-owned Bay Area staple Equator Coffees opened its first Southern California location in Culver City at Ivy Station and collaborated with celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken on the Socalo spiced latte, guava empanadas, and a new Colombian bagged coffee blend.

Home Delivery

Prefer a home brew? L.A.-based Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. founder Jordan Karcher has partnered with Animal Planet for a Puppy Bowl Bundle that blends the highest-grade beans from Guatemala and Papua New Guinea for an aromatic and silky smooth medium roast blend.

Socially conscious and fair trade, Devoción specializes in farm-to-cup roasting by flying in its direct-trade, single-source beans from Bogota weekly for the brand’s flagship facility in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It boasts a green-to-cup process in 10 days, as opposed to 6 to 12 months, and has relationships with some 400 small farms throughout Colombia. You can have these special roasts delivered monthly to your door.