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Seven Stylish Coffee Bars in OC

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


A picture of a coffee shop in Orange County called Wall Writers
Wall Writers is a hideout tucked in an Irvine office park where it’s least expected. Seen here, the coffee bar in the afternoon. Photo by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC
 

A clean Euro look, enormous picture windows, that hip décor or a really funky vibe; these are the spots that make you want to open your laptop and stay all day. Here’s a list of coffee bars that provide a home away from home for java junkies to sit and reflect or to settle in and “work from home.”

Avatar Coffee Roasters in Santa Ana is a hidden gem with an industrial chic feel. The bar, with electronic outlets, is the place to perch if you’re on the clock. A merchandise display offers several devices to brew coffee at home, and a live coffee tree is part of the décor. Photos by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC


Avatar Coffee Roasters

This hidden gem in an unlikely spot right off the 55 freeway has a bit of an industrial chic feel combining unfinished ceilings and luxe accents like marble flooring and a live coffee tree. The bar, with electronic outlets, is the place to perch if you’re on the clock. Otherwise, find a spot inside or out to enjoy tasty drinks such as a lightly spiced cardamom vanilla latte ($5) or a masala chai latte ($4.50) for those who prefer a fancy cup of tea.


Yogurt parfaits, toasts, flatbreads or shareables like charcuterie boards keep the munchies at bay. Pastries by Crema always hit the spot, but order the ones that hold well; think chocolate muffins ($4.75) rather than scones. Word: Be sure to park outside and not in the structure or you might get locked out when you return to your car.


Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 1951 E. Dyer Road Suite B, Santa Ana, avatarcoffeeroasters.com


Color saturated, super trippy décor assaults the eye at Coffee Dose, but the coffee and sassy attitude will keep you coming back for more. Seen here, the Costa Mesa location’s interior is Barbie pink, while the exterior is a contrast in simple black and white. The Costa Mesa location also has a bar that serves cocktails as well as coffee. Photos courtesy of Coffee Dose


Coffee Dose

Color saturated, super trippy décor assaults the eye, but the coffee and sassy attitude will keep you coming back for more. In Laguna Hills, the scheme is Barbie dream-house pink with ‘70s graphic print and a matchy pink La Marzocco espresso machine that probably cost as much as a luxury car. Hang out just to read the signs, “Free Coffee (just kidding),” and commuter cups emblazoned with “Slut for Coffee” or diner style mugs printed with smiley faces and a “Don’t be an A-hole” slogan.


Very fine foam makes for velvety drinks like a creamy cortado ($3.50). The Goldie ($6.50) lives up to its name, sweet and beautifully colored with turmeric, it smells like curry and gets a dusting of cinnamon. Robust espresso comes through even in a mocha ($5.50). For the vegans there’s oat and almond milk. Non-vegans need to know that only whole milk is served.


Hours vary. Locations in Costa Mesa, Laguna Hills, Irvine and Stanton. coffeedose.cafe.com


Named for the individual French press drip devices that render the inky brew preferred in Vietnam and Little Saigon, Phin Smith coffee bar in Garden Grove has a spare, down-to-earth décor that suits the theme with spot-on details everywhere you look, including travel posters of Vietnam and a chandelier of mismatched bulbs dangling from wood fittings that seem hand carved. The clientele ranges from youngsters opening laptops to Vietnamese American seniors. Many drinks have an Asian twist such as Calamantea, fourth photo, left, and Ca Phe Sua Da, right. Photos by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC


Phin Smith

Named for the individual French press drip devices that render the inky brew preferred in Vietnam and Little Saigon, this coffee bar offers many drinks with an Asian twist. (The phin filter is the traditional method of brewing coffee in Vietnam.) The spare, down-to-earth décor suits the theme with spot-on details everywhere you look: Japanese-style bar stools, travel posters of Vietnam, a chandelier of mismatched bulbs dangling from wood fittings that seem hand carved all speak to the sensibility of a country where history and high-tech manufacturing have fused.


Of course, there’s a Ca Phe Sua Da ($5) made with robust beans grown in Vietnam and creative blended treats like a creamy Coconut Coffee ($5.25) that’s not too sweet or slushy. Tea drinkers will gravitate toward a citrusy iced Calamantea ($4.50)—a nod to the “Philippine lemon”— which we like brewed with a delicate white tea. It’s garnished with freeze dried strawberry slices to infuse the drink.


Specialty drips include charcoal latte, banana coffee and a peanut butter laced PB&C. Pastries by Crema add the necessary French accent. Lots of places to sit; nestle into cushy blue velvet banquettes set under a faux arbor or park at live edge tables with high top seating and blue leatherette banquettes with standard seating.


Clientele ranges from youngsters opening laptops to young professionals in scrubs on a coffee break from Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center. They all make room for the Vietnamese American seniors who inhabit coffee lounges in Little Saigon; they’re adding this relaxed lounge to their list of favorites — the java is that good.


Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Closed all major holidays. 12921 Main St., Garden Grove, phinsmith.com


Promenade Café & Market has an eye-popping design, fashioned in the Irvine “Tuscan” style and has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and offers coffee, wine, shareable snacks and light meals as well as sabe cocktails. Photo courtesy of Irvine Company


Promenade Cafe & Market

The parking’s gnarly at this designed-for-residents captive audience café operated by Aramark for the Irvine Company, but it’s worth the aggravation. Step inside an eye-popping room fashioned in the Irvine “Tuscan” style with high ceilings, blond floors and so many places to perch: soft green banquettes, bar stools and luxe club chairs. Arched picture windows at the back of the room reveal more sleek seating outside with long settees decked out with tangerine toss pillows. If you need a bathroom break, stop here; we vote for these as the most clean and pristine restrooms of any coffee bar in Orange County.


There are provisions, as well as a menu of salads ($11), flatbreads ($11), sandwiches ($8-10) and libations. Happy hour runs 4 p.m. until closing with hard seltzers and kombucha, sabe (fortified Japanese sake) cocktails, wine and draft beer as well as discounted appetizers. The coffee? Oh yeah, it’s Starbucks.




At Roosevelt Coffee, neutral colors, curved walls and lush landscaping soothe customers as much as the creamy coffee drinks, like the mocha with latte art in the second photo. You can shop for beans and syrups to keep the mood going at home. Décor is subtle as seen in the sign pointing the way to this coffee oasis in the fourth photo. Photos by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC


Roosevelt Coffee

If a clean look helps you think better, park at Roosevelt, where neutral colors, curved walls and lush landscaping soothe as much as the creamy coffee drinks ($5-$6.75) made with whole milk or oat milk only. There’s soft vibey music in the background and a worn Persian rug to put you at ease. Teal velvet and pony fur poufs provide a convenient place to put your kicks up. Shop for beans or vanilla and lavender syrups to keep the mood going at home.


Open 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. 670 Roosevelt, Irvine, rooseveltcoffee.com


At Vanilla Street Bakery & Coffee in Laguna Hills, mod seating and a well-stocked pastry case will make you feel like you’ve arrived in Paris without paying the airfare. Special vignettes, like the one seen in the second photo, seems ideal for an Instagram moments. As seen in the fourth photos, a pâte à choux ($6.50), stuffed with creamy vanilla filling may make you feel as if you’ve just bitten into a cloud. A perfect iced latte is just the beginning of the coffee menu. Photo by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC


Vanilla Street Bakery & Coffee

Daydreaming of Paris patisseries? This is the spot for you with Danish mod seating indoors, croissants and other mostly European high-toned treats. Sinking your teeth into a pâte à choux ($6.50), stuffed with creamy vanilla filling, sporting a strawberry hat affixed with a dollop of whipped cream, makes you feel as if you’ve bitten into a cloud.


A perfect iced latte ($5.20) is just the beginning of the coffee menu. All drinks can be served iced. There are lunch and breakfast items too, like avocado toast with a poached egg ($12) and Belgian waffles ($13-$16). Just make sure to save room for macarons ($4) in American flavors like chocolate peanut butter crowned with tiny candy cups or bright teal cookies and cream with itsy-bitsy Oreos hanging on for dear life.


Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 22972 Moulton Pkwy., Suite 101, Laguna Hills, vanilla-street-bakerycoffee.business.site


Wall Writers is another hideout tucked into an Irvine office park. Look for a painterly mural on the façade of the building. Inside there’s the clean and serene feel of a hip study hall where a younger clientele opens laptops to settle on long live-edge tables. There’s also plenty of seating outside near a vine-covered pergola. Photos by Anne Valdespino, Culture OC


Wall Writers Coffee

Here’s another hideout tucked into an Irvine office park where it’s least expected. Look for a painterly mural on the façade of the building in a space that seems designed for events with a grill outside and plenty of seating near a vine-covered pergola. Inside there’s the clean and serene feel of a hip study hall where a younger clientele opens laptops to settle on long live-edge tables.


Grab-and-go snacks will keep you fueled. Large format portraits dominate the room and a shelf with a few carefully placed knick-knacks on the back wall feels like a library awaiting a curated collection. A black and white color palette and pendant lighting keep the look mod and fresh. Order at the coffee bar on the right where you’ll find fun latte flavors ($5.50) like salt caramel, blueberry mocha, honey rose and an Instagrammable purple and green ube matcha.


Open 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. 7755 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, wallwriterscoffee.com

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