Indulge in these flavorful, one-of-a-kind beverages at local cafes.
By Diane Geske
After an exhausting swim or surf session, a quick pick-me-up is often called for—maybe a warm beverage to chase away the chill from that dip in the Pacific. Further from shore, some eagerly search for a chic coffee or latte for a caffeine boost after perusing the Laguna Beach shops. And those waking up at seven, or noon, lazing out of their dreamy local hotel rooms no doubt seek a delicious cup of java to get their day started.
Laguna cafes serve up drinks that are cultured and creative—much like the surrounding city—in addition to their ambrosial flavor profiles and beautiful aesthetics with designs often swirled in milk on top. From classic brews to bold flavor combinations, skilled baristas tempt coffee enthusiasts, aficionados and snobs alike—as well as those who prefer a tea latte—to come sample and savor all the eclectic beverages from Laguna’s best.
An unexpected splash of color can be seen and tasted in Zinc Cafe’s coveted turmeric latte. Its golden hue makes it recognizable and alluring. The peppery turmeric base is married with the guest’s choice of milk and a touch of agave. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, making it a powerhouse ingredient that is sure to benefit its consumer. That said, the latte’s health benefits far from overshadow its dual-layered aroma, which allows sweet and savory to coexist simultaneously on one’s palette. Zinc also serves up a matcha latte and a tea au lait, which can be made with any hot tea option. (949-494-6302; zinccafe.com)
The Gaviña Gourmet Latte is a classic with a spin served at The Pantry, next to Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook. This drink starts with Gaviña Gourmet Coffee, which is roasted right here in Southern California, in the small city of Vernon. Richly flavored, with a superb amount of subtle sweetness, the Gaviña Gourmet Latte can be served in a china cup for those who plan to enjoy on the patio during a luxurious morning soaking in views of the Pacific. The Pantry suggests pairing the latte with a healthy Smashed Avocado Toast. Made with thick-cut, seeded multigrain bread, a layer of smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted piquillo peppers, fresh cucumber and shaved red onion, then finished with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, this breakfast bite complements the drink to create a delicious and filling stop. (949-715-9888; sapphirelagunabeach.com)
Robust and sweet, Urth Caffé’s Green Rose Latte is born from a base of ceremonial-grade, organic matcha, which is a green tea powder produced in Wazuka, Japan, and sent exclusively to the cafe. “We scent it with organic, cold-pressed oil of bergamot and organic rose petals,” says Shallom Berkman, owner of Urth Caffé. Bergamot being the aroma of Earl Grey tea, this process acts as an innovative way to combine an equally floral yet natural citrus flavor into the matcha. This drink can be served cold, hot or even blended to suit a particularly sizzling summer day. It is recommended to try the latte customized with oat milk, for those who desire a lighter and wholly plant-based sip. Berkman suggests adding boba pearls or pairing with the Eggs Benedict Canyon, which stacks potato latkes, shaved Italian ham and poached farm-fresh eggs, topped with house-made Hollandaise sauce. (949-376-8888; urthcaffe.com)
Succulent Coffee Roasters
For the more adventurous crowd, Succulent Coffee Roasters is the perfect shop to visit. The Iced Succulent Latte contains coffee mixed with milk and the cafe’s Succulent Syrup, which features a mystery ingredient paired alongside a medley of complementing spices and citrus. Kevin Sabo, CEO of Succulent Coffee Roasters, explains, “Our Succulent Syrup was developed to capture the essence of our namesake. It’s been on the menu since we opened our doors in 2019 and, like us, has continued to evolve.” The beverage can be made hot or cold with only a slight difference in flavor. The version served over ice has a sweet spice finish and the citrus is also more apparent, while the hot version is more fragrant, but less sweet than its cool counterpart. (succulentcoffeeroasters.com)
Blk Dot Coffee
A latte inspired by the locals of Laguna themselves, Blk Dot Coffee created this beverage when first opening the cafe’s location in Laguna Beach. Donned the Laguna Latte, this drink is ideal for a traveler who’s curious and looking for a taste of this coastal community. Or conversely, a resident desiring a comforting and nostalgic taste of home. The creamy latte’s caffeine is derived from a bitter bite of espresso, while its mild and nutty flavor can be attributed to the addition of oat milk, plus a hint of sweetness from honey. The drink can be customized with boba; mango, lychee or brown sugar jelly; flavored syrups including lavender; or creams such as sea salt cream or mojito foam. Blk Dot Coffee recommends customers indulge in an almond croissant as well. Its flaky crust and gooey filling make it an irresistible match to go with the Laguna Latte. (949-371-0288; blkdotcoffee.com)