Coffee by the Beach – Laguna Beach

June 25, 2009 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

Note: I originally wrote this for a potential client found through After determining that the client was paying rates that would barely buy me one cup of coffee, I declined. So this bit of California Travel and Coffee Tasting is Free for the Blogosphere. I post more as I get on my motorcycle this summer and cruise California’s finest. Buy me a cup of coffee sometime. Glenn

Best Coffee in Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach Coffee Break

Let me be clear about this right up front, nobody goes to Laguna Beach, Calif., just for coffee. Art galleries and fairs? Of course. Kitschy tourist t-shirt shops? Got ’em. Incredible sea-side scenery and lovely “California Girls?” That might be the number one reason. But coffee? You can get coffee – even good coffee – anywhere these days, right?

Yes, even Laguna Beach. Southern California’s most beautiful (I’ll argue this one anyday!) beach town is home to all of the above, plus a collection of amazing restaurants, top-notch hotels and resorts, and a handful of outstanding coffee houses. The Laguna Beach coffee scene is alive and well, and it goes well beyond Starbucks (though I did see about five of those in a five-mile stretch of road, and I wasn’t even looking).

Laguna Coffee Co. - So Good I brought it home with me!

Laguna Coffee Co. - So Good I brought it home with me!

Laguna Coffee Company – Best Overall Coffee Experience
1050 South Coast Highway
I like my coffee black; I’ve never added sugar, cream, or flavorings. And I like it strong. If I lived closer than 50 miles from this place, I’d be a regular at the Laguna Coffee Company. The coffee is that good. The owners roast coffee beans right in the tiny shop on the east side of the famed Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), completing the coffee experience. They acquire beans from the best locations in the world: Indonesia’s Sulawesi, as well as Nicaragua, Kenya, and more. Coffee beans are roasted in store, and brewed to perfection daily. If you can’t get to Laguna, you can buy beans online. You cannot, however, purchase the view of the Pacific or a seat aside the PCH.

Zinc Café & Market – Best Coffee and Dining Combination
350 Ocean Boulevard
If you’re hanging out down by the beach all day, you won’t find Zinc Café & Market. If you’re hopping from one gallery to the next, you may miss Zinc as well. My advice? Get out of the sand and out of the gallery, and get to Zinc. Café or Market, that’s up to you. And it’s pretty simple, as the names declare. The Market sells packaged items, including amazing cheeses, unique wines, homemade salads and sandwiches, as well as craft items. Take your Market food and walk to the beach. The Café will fill your stomach now with fresh baked goods, soups and sandwiches, eggs, fruits, and desserts. Oh, and coffee, very good coffee. Best of all, Zinc serves hot coffee, cappuccinos and more for your in-house drinking pleasure in a real coffee mug. I’m very tired of paper coffee cups. Eat and drink at Zinc!

Coffee Pub – Most Comfortable and Friendly Coffee
384 Forest Ave. #4
Walk into the Coffee Pub, tucked in behind another retailer, and you’ll think you perhaps walked into grandmother’s kitchen, through the side door. Walk out to the patio, and the familiar illusion continues, though now you’ve walked into grandmother’s well-kept flower garden. No, turn around and go back inside. Order a cup of coffee and make yourself at home on a leather couch or overstuffed chair, and pick up a book. Laguna’s Coffee Pub is without doubt the most comfortable coffee shop around. Enjoy cozy chairs inside or the smell of flora and fauna outside, and a fine cup of coffee either way. The coffee is provided by a chain brewer, but that’s not a bad thing, it just limits coffee choice at this pub. There is bar-style seating indoors, making this a true Coffee Pub. Owners serve grandma-style baked goods as well, and homemade sandwiches. And you can’t match the comfort and home-grown style.

Goko Café – Most Groovy & Healthy option
907 South Coast Highway
For everyone who thinks that Californians only eat whole-grain breads topped with avocados and beans and washed down with hand-pressed guava juice, this is your place. Thankfully, it’s also a coffee shop, and a darned good one. The food is very good and it’s, honestly, why the locals line up at Goko Café around lunch time. But I visit for the coffee, and I visit early because the locals are all asleep until about 11 a.m. Goko brews top-notch coffee – whether you like it straight and black, or espresso-ized into cappuccino, lattes or even iced coffee drinks. My favorite thing about Goko, however, is the personal attention afforded any customer who needs it. Food orders are, of course, unique here. And Goko will even personalize your coffee or tea orders, just gotta ask.

time the day right, and hit the Orange Inn for a late-morning breakfast burrito

time the day right, and hit the Orange Inn for a late-morning breakfast burrito

Orange Inn – Best Overall California Experience
703 South Coast Highway
Okay, calling the historic Orange Inn a coffee shop is a stretch of the imagination. Yes, they serve coffee. They serve hot, black coffee that is better than most around. A special Orange Inn House Blend of organic coffee beans is brewed into great drinks on site, or you can buy coffee beans for brewing at home. You go to the Orange Inn, however, for California beach-city atmosphere, caffeine on the side. Every time I visit this “coffee shop,” a lifeguard or two comes in to order something. They stroll up from the nearest guard tower, or drive up in a Jeep. That’s California beach atmosphere. And after one bite of a breakfast burrito, you’ll put up with no parking and the smell of lifeguard afforded by Orange Inn. It’s pretty cool, too, that the building itself is more than 70 years old and was moved from its original location several miles north. Don’t forget to try the famous Date Shake.


Entry filed under: Personal, Travel.

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