In those first couple months after college, there’s a lot of sitting around wondering what a bachelor of arts will get you. So at first you sit at home – then you get bored. So then you sit around coffeehouses with your similarly degreed friends looking for jobs and reworking resumes. This is a lot of your time, so you have to change venues on occasion. My friends and I are experts on this post-college sitting in coffeeshops. Pasadena has the most delightful places for caffeine, with great environments beneficial to working – or procrastinating. That depends on you. Here are some great places with table space and wireless, for all of your laptop needs. To enjoy these you don’t need to be in this awkward phase. They are good for any stage of coffee-loving life.
Cafe de Leche
Cafe de Leche just opened up in December. I know this because there’s a prominently displayed certificate signed by Mayor Villaraigosa congratulating them on opening in December. It is now my favorite place to be. A little one-room place on the corner of York and Avenue 50 in Highland Park, it is filled with small wooden tables that are always cluttered with laptops. For better or worse, they are always the same white MacBooks, which is both creepy and comforting — if you have a white MacBook. Each table has two or three plugs, so there is no chance you’ll run out of power while searching for jobs on Craigslist for the third time that day. The back corner is carpeted and full of toys and books for kids, which draws dozens of hipster parents with their stylish children. There aren’t many items on the menu, but everything is delicious. A great new spot, highly recommended. 5000 York Blvd., Highland Park, cafedeleche.net
One of the two South Pas hot spots, Buster’s has a second floor, more table space than its rival Kaldi, and just as many indie kids. I would particularly recommend the upstairs bar overlooking Mission Street. If you’re not sure what to write about, something will appear on the street to inspire you. The second floor is typically the quietest, if that is beneficial to your work habits. But beware of Fosselman’s. Many times I have come to Buster’s intending to work and sip some tea, only to find myself full of peppermint ice cream. I don’t really have a problem with this, but in case you might, I thought I would warn you. All around, a good cafe environment for work. 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena.
The other side of the South Pasadena debate, Kaldi is definitely a scene. It’s great for working if you are a twentysomething indie kid, or if you don’t mind being looked at strangely by twentysomething indie kids. Needless to say, before I became one of those twentysomethings, I found it an odd place. Now it’s great, with table space and great coffee. Most of the time it is wonderfully quiet and appropriately toasty. If it’s a nice day, consider taking up residency at one of the many sidewalk tables. Definitely check out the excellent Mexican hot chocolate. Note: The workers who will benefit the most from this environment will be those working on their next self-reflexive novel. Just a thought. 1019 El Centro St., South Pasadena.
Sometimes I forget how adorable Sierra Madre is. If you feel you might be forgetting, too, head on over to Bean Town the next time you have a book to read or an assignment to finish. It’s fantastic — plenty of chairs and tables, some couches, and free wireless. You’ll find Fosselman’s and all sorts of pastries, as well as a great selection of coffee and tea — although the last time I was there the barista had no idea how much loose leaf to put in a tea bag. I like my tea dark, but this incident nearly killed me with tannic acid. This doesn’t stop me from loving this friendly place, a perfect setting for a calm task. 45 N. Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre, beantowncoffeebar.com
Although I find Zona Rosa a better spot for a quick chat than a long work day, people I know insist it’s one of the best places to write in Pasadena. I’ll often convince friends to grab a coffee there as an excuse to hop over to Vroman’s, so maybe the feelings are similar. The small second floor has the most laptop-friendly tables and a pleasantly quiet atmosphere. As all Pasadenans know, the coffees, teas and hot chocolates are excellent. My favorite is always the Mexican hot chocolate. Parking is sometimes tight, but once you find a spot for your car it’s easy to find a spot for yourself to happily spend a couple of hours. 15 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, zonarosacaffe.com
The Coffee Gallery
A staple of northern Pasadena and Altadena life, the Coffee Gallery is a well-known work and meeting space. Located conveniently on Lake Avenue, the cafe is funky but practical. For instance, it has a conference room that can be rented for your next big meeting — as long as it does not interfere with the regularly scheduled massage therapist or the watercolor workshop. Service can be slow, but if you’re sitting around working, will you really be counting the minutes? It also has concerts almost every night, some quite good, so even if you don’t want to work, you should keep up with the lineup. A friendly local spot. 2029 Lake Ave., Altadena, funkylittlecoffeehouse.com