In Pasadena (and neighboring Hometown towns) we are blessed with nearly as many independent coffee houses are there are beans in a pound of Mocha Java. Each establishment has loyal fans, each has at least one thing that makes them special, and all make a great cup of joe (espresso/macchiato/cappuccino).
We have listed some of our favorites so that you’ve got a handy guide to getting your java AND your atmosphere on. You should be able to find the right place, whether you are looking for home-roasted beans or a home-cooked meal, a clean, well-lighted place to put your laptop or a convivial place to meet and greet, or some arcane combination of all our categories. If we’ve missed your favorite, either keep it to yourself or contact us! Good luck, and happy caffeinating.
For a great hang, alone or with friends:
Zona Rosa: Has an upstairs lounge, with great light, rocket fuel coffee and a great banana-Mexican chocolate Zocalo con Platano. You can reserve their outdoor patio or upstairs room.
The Sidewalk Café at Hens Teeth Square: Opening April 9. Run by a genial barista-by-day and bartender-by-night who features Kilroy’s sandwiches and baked goods from a Glendale bakery. WiFi and comfy seating make this a cozy spot for a nibble and hob-nob.
Coffee Gallery: Altadena’s funky, quirky community hang-out has a back room you can reserve for meetings of up to ten participants. WiFi available.
Swork: Upscale, trendy Eagle Rock neighborhood hang out with kids’ play area. Just don’t get the little tykes’ macchiatos extra hot! They have WiFi and even computer rental, so as long as the little ones behave you can get some work done too.
Zeli La Canada and Vroman’s: Virtual clones of one another. Down-stuffed chenille pillows and venetian plaster, a seraglio-like atmosphere for lounging and gossiping.
Kaldi: Standing in for Brooklyn or SoHo in a TV or movie near you, Kaldi’s red brick ambiance, mismatched chairs and hipster attitude packs them in.
Jones Coffee: Join regulars including KPCC staffers, doctors and die-hards who mingle with Art Center students. Drive around to Edmonson Alley, parallel to Raymond Avenue – there’s a huge parking lot and the warehouse doors are rolled up and welcoming. Fun, welcoming, relaxing, and getting bigger all the time.
Jameson-Brown Almost severe, with painstakingly prepared coffee and tea, this place is popular with the camping-out-and-working crowd. Woe to you if you get there late—nobody gives up a table, and I don’t blame them. There’s even a working fireplace.
Equator: Funky flava in a classic old-town location. HPT correspondent Sandy Gillis does the place justice in this post.
Buster’s: South Pasadena’s original coffee house, a two-story, kid-friendly, bustling, friendly, efficient, quirky star. Lots of studying for midterms upstairs.
Zephyr: An old craftsman house that somehow survived on the bleak east end of Colorado Blvd. Everything that a coffee house should be, including comfy couches and a garden.
Bean Town: Sierra Madre’s favorite place to kibitz and kvetch. Nice bars to set a laptop up on.
Buster’s: A great selection of lunch, desserts and Fosselman’s ice cream, a full-service coffee bar that is train-friendly (not that we are encouraging you to take verboten drinks on the Gold Line!).
Jones: Delectable Friday Tamales and unusual, creative daily sandwiches (get there early!).
Zeli: Our vote for most decadent bakery case.
Intelligentsia: Even though it’s a chain (of nine nation-wide), this spot ups the Old Town hipster quotient, makes dynamite coffee, and has a great menu from lunch till dinner, with high end pastries and beer and wine too.
Bean Town: Great for lunch.
Taking home the beans:
Zeli: Fisherman’s Blend dark is addictive.
Jameson-Brown: Exotic hand-roasted, small-batch blends that you can even order on-line.
Jones Coffee If you like it dark, try Madison Blend. They’ll sell you a vacuum container and even wash it for you when it gets too oily from their yummy dark roasts. Also lots of nice brewing tchatchkes and classes.
Entertainment (check websites for schedules) :
Coffee Gallery; Jones; Bean Town, Buster’s (jazz on Sundays), Zona Rosa (has hosted Ozomatli members trying out new songs).
Deal of the Century:
Jones: Currently running a promotion: if you load $50 on a card (a virtual one that they keep track of in their computer, another plus) they will add $10 to it – and it’s good for food and beans too.
Find Your Favorite Java Spot
Bean Town 45 N. Baldwin, Sierra Madre, 626.355.1596, beantowncoffeebar.com
Buster’s Ice Cream and Coffee Stop 1006 Mission St. ,South Pasadena, 626.441.0744, busterscoffee.com
The Sidewalk Cafe at Hens Teeth Square 2057 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, 626.797.9255
Coffee Gallery 2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena 626.398.7917 (Backstage: 626.794.2424) coffeegallery.com
Equator 22 Mills Pl., Pasadena, 626,564.8656 equatorcafe.com
Intelligentsia 55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.578.1270 intelligentsiacoffee.com
Jameson-Brown 260 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena, 626.395.7585 jamesonbrown.com
Jones Coffee 693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626.564.9291 thebestcoffee.com
Kaldi 1019 El Centro St., South Pasadena, 626.403.5951
Swork 2160 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323.258.5600 swork.com
Zeli 639 Foothill Blvd. (Vons shopping center), La Canada, 818.790.2315 and 695 E. Colorado Blvd (in Vroman’s), Pasadena, 626.356.9901
Zephyr 2419 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, 626.793.7330 zephyrcoffeeandart.com
Zona Rosa Caffe 15 S. El Molino, Pasadena, 626.793.2334 zonarosacaffe.com