Local coffee shops offer unique options unlike typical chains

Melanie Villasin, Staff reporter

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In need of a quick jolt to wake you up while on the way to school? Check out these local suggestions that are a change from your typical visits to Starbucks or The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Hopper & Burr, Santa Ana

Melanie Villasin
READ IT AND ENJOY: Hopper & Burr’s storefront sign speaks the truth. Stationed in front of the operation, their sign encourages coffee lovers nearby to come and enjoy their “really good coffee.”

Many students are drawn toward simplistic, aesthetically-enticing environments, and Hopper & Burr is the perfect setting for taking a mental break while enjoying a caffeine boost.

“The environment is clean and minimalistic unlike other places that seem chaotic and busy,” new employee Timber Charter said. 

Everything Hopper & Burr offers to customers is made in-house, and employees have dedicated shifts for creating every product, from almond milk to pastries, making the establishment highly respected by frequent customers and distinct compared to other shops.

“We have a simple menu and it’s small, but everything is intentional and well-made,” Charter said.

The seasonal drinks are popular options, such as the Campfire Cappuccino for fall. But since these drinks are only available for a limited time, their lattes are well recommended year-round.

Additionally, the employees are always cordial and inviting, making it feel like a safe haven when the pressures of life and school become overwhelming.

Hopper & Burr is located at 202 W 4th St. in Santa Ana. For more information, visit their website.

Milk and Honey, Costa Mesa

Senior Ruby Corbett’s favorite place to unwind with a cup of joe is Milk and Honey in Costa Mesa.

“I always order the Spanish Latte; it’s definitely my favorite thing to get from there,” Corbett said.

In addition to the Spanish Latte, there are also the highly recommended tea lattes and shaken iced teas. Milk and Honey offers a variety of drinks in addition to coffee, which is perfect if you’re looking for a healthy decaf option.

The rustic feel of Milk and Honey is very popular among students and many take the time to go after school whenever they are stressed and need a coffee break to unwind. The environment is usually busy so working on homework may not be ideal at this location, but it’s perfect for relaxing with friends after school or on the weekends. The prices are relatively inexpensive making it budget friendly for all.

Milk and Honey is located at 2981 Bristol St. in Costa Mesa. For more information, visit their website.

Portola Coffee LabOrange

Melanie Villasin
ALTERNATES FOR YOUR PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE: The drink seen here at Portola Coffee Lab is a highly recommended “Honey, I spiced the latte.” This seasonal drink is festive and popular among customers this time of year.

If a laid-back, casual environment to spend time with friends entices you, the Portola Coffee Lab in the Orange Circle is the place to be. While there are a few Portola Coffee locations throughout Orange County, this specific branch came about in an interesting fashion.

“It started out very scientific with lots of chemistry involved, hence the Lab part of the name, and originally everyone wore lab coats when we worked to connect with the theme,” employee Erin Aguirre said.

Portola has transformed over the past few years, becoming increasingly popular among high school and college students.

“The branch really evolved in 2015 when [we] received the Roaster of the Year award and transformed from a scientific coffee lab into roasters that are more guest-service oriented,” Aguirre said.

At this particular coffee spot, there is only one barista working at a time, which may be off-putting for a time-constrained person.

“There are lots of locations in Orange, but this branch specifically has only one barista working, so I really get to own my shift and every experience with each customer,” Aguirre said.

The engagement with every individual who decides to come to Portola Coffee Lab is what makes her passionate about her job, making the experience enjoyable for herself and the customer.

“I love how I get to engage with everyone who decides to come here,” she said. “Even if the line goes all the way to the back of the room, I try to make their wait more than just wasted time and have a conversation with each person that enters.”

Portola Coffee Lab is located at 143 N. Glassell St. in Orange. For more information, visit their website.

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