Considered both divine and dangerously evil at one time or another by popes and sultans alike, coffee is now the world’s most popular beverage and the most widely traded global commodity after petroleum. Americans drink some 450 million cups a day and spend over $1,000 a year on coffee. Given the number of coffee houses in and around Pasadena, much of that consumption appears to be occurring right here. While you can of course get a “corporate” cup of coffee under any number of green awnings, we prefer a less standardized experience. Here are several of our favorite local independent coffee purveyors.
Artisanal brew in the heart of Old Pasadena, Copa Vida utilizes exceptional coffee beans from around the world and expertly brews them a cup at a time to bring you one of the most amazing coffee experiences ever. With a knowledgeable and approachable staff, you’ll come for the coffee, but stay to enjoy breakfast. You can also get lunch, and on the weekends a seasonal and artisanal brunch menu is available. Try the faro porridge—it’s like oatmeal, only delicious. The turkey bacon wrap is also a crowd-pleaser complete with, wait for it, coffee-glazed bacon. Copa Vida also offers a generous selection of globally sourced teas, including organic and herbal varieties. 70 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
Lavender & Honey
With their expertly curated selection of tea, coffee, espresso, hot chocolate, and lemonade, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. Believed to have introduced the now ubiquitous avocado toast to Pasadena, Lavender & Honey also serves sandwiches and salads. The L&H fall menu includes a number of deliciously seasonally appropriate lattes like the Maple Latte and the Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Try one with the Pumpkin Butter Toast, including hand-made pumpkin butter and whipped cream. 1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
Once known only for their truly amazing cupcakes, Dots is now a coffee bar and café. Stop by for a latte and breakfast with scrumptious pastries baked daily. Along with soup, sandwiches, and salads, you’ll find interesting and delicious specialties like goat cheese croquettes, a fried tamale, and risotto balls. But when you go to Dots, make sure not to leave without choosing from the large selection of their signature cupcakes. 3819 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Jones Coffee Roasters
Ensuring the quality of their coffee by importing the beans directly from the family farm in Guatemala is just part of Jones’ commitment. In addition to superior quality control, Jones Coffee Roasters ensures their beans are grown in the most environmentally-sustainable manner possible. Then, back in America, the beans are roasted right here in Pasadena and sold at two Pasadena locations. Not only can you get a delicious cup of coffee and a pastry at both, but once the restrictions are lifted, the Mission Street location will return with live jazz on Wednesday and Friday mornings to get you in your daily rhythm early. 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena and 693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
Brazil might be the world’s largest producer of coffee, but Venezuela’s Amara Barroeta, owner of Amara Café, knows a thing or two about the world’s favorite drink herself. And the first thing she knows is how well a good coffee pairs with a delicious churro. With a number of different drizzles and dipping sauces to choose from, whether dulce de leche or house-made guava sauce, these are combinations you don’t want to miss. And for something on the savory side, Amara offers a number of authentic Venezuelan dishes like grilled arepas and cachapas. For the holiday season, look for the Ginger Cocoa Latte made with dark roast espresso, 63% dark Venezuelan chocolate, and a blend of galangal and ginger. As Barroeta says, “The flavors are bold yet comforting for the cold weather; the combination of the antioxidant power of the flavonoids in chocolate, as well as the immune-boosting properties of ginger, are a fantastic addition to this delicious coffee drink that can be crafted with your choice of milk (or non-dairy options).” 55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters
Jameson Brown has been serving small-batch freshly roasted coffee in Pasadena since 2006. We believe that every cup poured is a testament to our passion and love for what we do. All coffee is roasted in house five days a week to ensure the freshest cup possible to start your day.
260 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena, jamesonbrown.com