There’s nothing like the perfect cup of joe to kick-start your morning, and Laguna has several cafes and coffee houses that provide exceptional brews for that much-needed jolt.
By Beth Fhaner | Photos by Jody Tiongco
March is National Caffeine Awareness Month, so we thought it was an appropriate time to tour some of the best places in town for great coffee and other delectable goodies. From cozy hole-in-the-wall cafes to local institutions that consider coffee preparation a high art, Laguna’s many brewers make it easy for java lovers to get their daily doses of liquid energy. So, to get your day buzzing with a delicious sip, be sure to check out these coffee hot spots and others around town.
For coffee in a setting with a definite bohemian vibe, look no further than the Koffee Klatch, a laid-back, eclectic, dog-friendly place with French prints lining the walls, comfy couches, several small tables in the back and an outdoor patio area—a perfect place to sip your brew while reading a book or working on your laptop. Friendly baristas serve a wide range of coffees and ice-blended drinks here, but by far the most popular selection on the menu is the Mayan Mocha, an absolutely delicious beverage that’s not too sweet with just the right amount of espresso flavor and a generous dollop of cinnamon. Order it with whipped cream—it’s pure bliss. The chai tea latte is also highly recommended. Coffee by the pound is available for purchase too, including the house blend, the robust black velvet, vanilla nut or decaf. In addition to coffee alternatives such as fruit smoothies, teas, sodas and lemonade, the Koffee Klatch offers savory sustenance with breakfast and lunch items. Breakfast is served all day, and salads, sandwiches and soups are also available. Pair your beverage with a bagel (try the signature Love Bagel, a bagel of choice with cream cheese, tomato and lemon pepper), muffin top or any of the slices of yummy cake on offer in the display case. Another nice perk about this place on South Coast Highway is that it’s open late—until midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. (949-376-6867)
Tucked away amid shops in the Lumberyard complex on Forest Avenue, the Coffee Pub is something of a hidden gem, yet the friendly service and casual ambience attract many regular patrons. Place your order at the counter, and then opt for either indoor seating or a table on the adjacent patio. The Coffee Pub serves organic Gaviña Gourmet Coffee (which is produced by coffee makers who’ve been in business for more than 100 years, so they must be doing something right), and regular, medium and dark roasts are available, as well as decaf coffee and espresso drinks. Try the chai latte or the barista special, which, depending on the barista’s whim, could be a creme brulee latte or white mocha pumpkin latte, among other special concoctions. Coffee alternatives include teas, smoothies, hot chocolate and lemonade; bagels, pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups provide satisfying nosh.
“The experience you get when you come here for a cup of coffee is like seeing an old friend—it makes you feel at home,” says barista/sandwich artist Sergio Gomez, who truly seems to know almost every customer who walks through the door at the cozy Coffee Pub. (949-494-5334)
If you’re a serious coffee connoisseur, a visit to Laguna Coffee Co., which has been serving gourmet, organic specialty coffees since 1991, is a must.
The South Coast Highway shop shines a spotlight on a variety of international vendors, incorporating beans sourced from Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Hawaii and Costa Rica. Owners Paul and Cathy Ackley and Peggy Warner buy, roast and serve premium blends, including distinctive dark roasts, espressos, cappuccinos and decaf beverages (French, Italian, espresso and Sumatra).
Customers can buy pounds of whole coffee beans here, and get them grinded too—popular choices include Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans and Costa Rican beans. Choose from several milk options as well, including soy, hemp, rice, coconut milk and almond organic milk. Blended coffee drinks, iced coffee, smoothies and teas are also on the menu, plus tasty eats such as sandwiches, pastries and empanadas (a Tuesday special).
Additionally, don’t miss the incredible carrot
cake or the French strudels served every Sunday. Open seven days a week, Laguna Coffee Co. also boasts a pleasant patio and live jazz every Saturday morning. “We have excellent coffee from around the world, and we micro roast here on a weekly basis,” says barista Annie Fedotov. “We also have great baristas who free pour lattes, which results in the decorative hearts.” (949-494-6901; lagunacoffeeco.com)
The outdoor patio at Heidelberg Cafe & Bistro’s on South Coast Highway is another perfect spot to grab a cup of joe while soaking in the beauty of Laguna Beach. Order anything from lattes to cappuccinos and drip coffees. A local favorite is the Cafe Mocha Royal, which is made of chocolate milk, espresso, whipped cream and chocolate chips. Also highly regarded is the cafe’s German-style breakfast, such as the German sausage and eggs. (949-497-4594; heidelbergcafe.com)
At Jean Paul’s Goodies, regular customers know the drill: Order quickly and make sure to bring cash to pay for the exceptional French coffee and mouthwatering, freshly baked pastries, including the light-as-air, buttery croissants. Located in a strip mall in the north end of Laguna, Jean Paul’s Goodies is touted by some locals as having some of the best coffee on the planet. Owner Jean Paul has a reputation for sometimes exhibiting a gruff demeanor, but perhaps it’s just his French attitude and passion for ultra-fine coffee. Be forewarned, though—whatever you do, don’t bring in a Starbucks cup (or risk being told to leave) and don’t ask for a latte, as the proper beverage to order here is a “cafe au lait,” which is available in one size only. (949-494-7832) LBM