Cup of life. Living like a cup? Fill you life’s cup up with coffee, tea, and something called a shakerato at Pasadena’s newest coffee and tea spot, Copa Vida.
We ordered a latte for a whopping $4.50, though to be fair the cafe covers a lot of real estate that must cost a pretty penny to rent (it’s the former home of Red, White & Bluezz), but it was disappointing to receive our morning elixir in a rather small cup—probably eight ounces, though it felt more like six. The initial sip was quite surprising, and not entirely enjoyable, as it wasn’t the Italian espresso “latte” taste to which we are accustomed, but it didn’t keep us from drinking it.
Upon bringing up our dirty plates, we inquired and were told that the espresso used is called Sugar Skull from a company called Ritual. Sugar Skull is described on Ritual’s website as “simple and elegant” and tasting of ginger, sweet cream, red berries, and chocolate. Our taste buds are not that cultured to be able to describe what we drank in those terms, but we would recommend that the person receiving the coffee order inform the patron that a non-standard espresso bean is the day’s specialty. We didn’t dislike the taste entirely, but it wasn’t what we were expecting and our tastebuds were disappointed until we harangued them to be more adventurous (which they are decidedly not if it’s any time before noon and before a “regular” coffee and/or latte has been consumed).
We indulged in a stromboli of ham, cheese, and caramelized onions with herbs. It was good, fresh, but small for the price. Petite even. All of Copa Vida’s—lemon pistachio tea cake, blackberry thyme muffin, salted caramel monkey bread—come from Cake Monkey in North Hollywood (they’re website is drool-inducing; hyperglycemia be damned).
Many appetizing meals—by the looks of it—are on the menu, which we shall need to try, like the farro salad with red bell pepper, eggplant, snow peas, portobello, and caramelized onions with a sweet ginger soy sauce or a twist on the traditional Croque Madame with ham, caramelized onions (not everything has caramelized onions, but obviously, our taste buds are attracted), tomato, gruyere cheese, egg, and bearnaise sauce. Their website has a video of chef Erick Lee making their French toast with cranberry, sunflower seeds, and almond crumbs topped with stone fruit compote that looks divinely perfect for a Sunday brunch.
The space is large with maybe a little bit of a college, blocky feel to it; utilitarian with metal stools and classroom type chairs. The warm wood on the walls against the dark wood of the buttresses and the coffered ceiling is nostalgically reminiscent of the East Coast. If you prefer the dark, the back room is perfect.
Their chalk board menu
Copa Vida, 70 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626.213.3952, copa-vida.com. Coffee drinks and tea $3-$5, salads $9, sandwiches $8-$9.