(Photo by Samantha De La O)
How-To: The 5 Best Cups of Java
By Ashley Scriven
Mornings mean coffee. One of the first things I do when I wake up is flip the switch on the coffee maker. I need the caffeine to jump start my day. I value the quiet moments I spend sipping the warm liquid before I tackle my hectic to do list. Often, I’ll pray and plan out my day over my morning java. Quite often, I drink a second cup in the late morning or early afternoon and sometimes a third. As a college student, my life is very busy and constant coffee breaks are necessary to keep me going. More than a need for caffeine however, I value coffee because it is comforting. Some of my best conversations have happened over coffee mugs and when I write, a cup of joe is usually close by. As an avid coffee drinker, I have an uncanny ability to locate coffee shops a mile away. I’ll share a few of my favorites with you so you can enjoy them too.
New to Orange County, this shop’s original location is in beautiful San Juan Capistrano. The shop in Costa Mesa has a very clean, minimalist interior. It’s usually not crowded and their free Wi-Fi makes this the perfect spot for students to study. All of their coffee is fair trade and they support farmers in places like Ethiopia. When I go, I almost always order an Americano with a little swirl of cream, but their vanilla latte is delightful. They have almond and soy milk available if you don’t want whole milk. Hidden House also has a small selection of muffins and breads baked in house to complement your drink.
If you find yourself on the rainy streets of Washington, duck into Storyville Coffee for a warm experience. Their menu is fairly standard; they don’t have a crazy signature drink, but the barista did recommend their cappucino which was the perfect frothy blend of coffee and milk. If you decide to drink your coffee inside, it will be served in a mug which has the Storyville logo on it; a child flying an airplane. The shop is quite cozy with a warm red interior and seats facing the window which allow you to watch the rain while staying dry. The shop has a couple games available to play with friends and they thoughtfully provide umbrellas at the door.
Talk about unique charm, this shop is full of it. This shop has a wide selection of drinks available including a “zebra mocha” which is a mix of white and dark chocolate. If you’re hungry, The Lost Bean offers a variety of superfood salads, organic quiche, and gluten free sandwiches. Orders are placed under the sign that reads “lost” and picked up at the sign reading, “found.” I usually order a cafe au lait, a fancy name for coffee and milk. Coffee wise, it’s not as strong as I would like, but the atmosphere makes up for that.
Nestled in the hills of the small town below Yosemite National Park, this coffee shop is a true gem. All of their products are fair trade and they have a large tea selection in addition to serving really excellent coffee. If you actually enjoy the taste of coffee, I suggest the cafe au lait with almond milk. The dirty chai latte is another one of my favorites. However, Cool Bean has their own equivalent of the Starbucks frappucino with flavors like Snickers and Butterfingers. Also listed on the menu is a berry smoothie, yogurt parfaits, quiche and organic granola. The Cool Bean is only open til 3 and is closed on Sundays so the employees can attend church.
If you’re looking for cheap, then this is not the place for you. However, if you appreciate quality coffee and good, friendly people then check it out. The baristas at Milstead Coffee are professionals who know how to brew a cup of coffee well. They feature coffee from various parts of the world that are blends of various flavors. One cup is so carefully brewed that each distinctive flavor can be picked out and enjoyed. Their cafe mocha tastes like liquid chocolate gold. Simply scrumptious are the words to describe it. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, Milstead sells thick peanut butter cookies the size of salad plates. I can’t vouch for the taste, but I was sure tempted. The entrance is lined with hanging succulents which offers a nice aesthetic for your Instagram and the friendly baristas are more than willing to strike up a conversation with you.
I could go on and on about coffee shops, but all of this talking about coffee has made me want some. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta get caffeinated.