• LACoffeeMate

The Best Coffee Shops Between LA and Monterey (Open During the Pandemic)

Updated: May 4


The quarantine finally got to me, so John and I got creative on how we could take a trip but keep all the social distancing orders in mind… So we took a road trip up to Monterey and back!


We mainly stopped for photos of the coast, a few nostalgic stops like Solvang and Cambria, and of course, GOOD coffee.


Finding a list of great coastal shops in California was harder than imagined, so I did a lot of research (not to mention, finding out what’s open, what the reduced hours are, etc.). Let the below serve as a quick, caffeinated detour for your next PCH drive...

Malibu: Caffe Luxxe 


One of several locations in LA, Caffe Luxxe disappointed in the iced coffee and greatly impressed in the hot coffee. I can highly recommend the Ethiopian pour over, but I’d stay away from the iced coffee (they did not have cold brew) since it was extremely dark and lacking in notable flavors. 

The Ethiopian was a luscious, fruity experience I savored slowly. All the fruit, citrus and floral notes were there like a musical; notes hitting one after the other.

We snacked on a cinnamon pastry and lemon poppy seed muffin. The cinnamon pastry (which had a name I’d never heard of before, so you’ll know it when you see it) was heaven, and the lemon poppy seed muffin was about 1” x 1” so it was a good snack for a mouse but didn’t wow me.

You may enter this location, but obviously, not hang around.


Santa Barbara: Dune


In beautiful, central Santa Barbara, Dune was the popular recommendation to me. They had several good sounding pour over options, but I went with the Honduras (Bourbon) at the barista’s reco, and John got a cold brew.

The Honduras was great and the cold brew was good, very light. I would visit again but try something else, as I didn’t taste a lot of flavor in the pour over.

You may not enter the cafe, everything is order and pick-up “window-ed.”


Big Sur: Big Sur Bakery


While Big Sur is mostly picturesque cliffs and deep blue beaches, stopping at Big Sur bakery enhanced the experience, tenfold. 

I had a macchiato and cinnamon roll and I can say undoubtedly, you must order both! Maybe I just hadn’t had a good macchiato in a while, but it reminded me why it’s my favorite espresso drink: the ratio and taste! 

Honestly, the cinnamon rolls changed my life - probably the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot. DO NOT miss this stop, and remember to stop and eat/drink at one of the thousand viewpoints along the coast.

You may enter this location, but obviously, not hang around (also a convenient stop because they have bathrooms)!


Pacific Grove: Crema


In an old wooden house, the restaurant and espresso bar Crema is one of the few places around Monterey still open! The setting is adorable, and I bet the restaurant is a beautiful experience. They serve Verve coffee, and at the time just had a dark roast on tap so I opted for a latte. 

John’s cold brew was very interesting -- it almost had the consistency of nitro, but it was a funky flavor (in a good way, like Califia Farms’ cold brew). My latte was good, but honestly needed more espresso, as I felt the ratio was off.

You may enter this location, but obviously, not hang around.


Seaside: Acme Coffee Roasting


When you think you’ve taken a wrong turn, you’re here! In a somewhat industrial area neighboring Monterey you’ll find Acme Coffee Roasting in Seaside. 

The sweets looked too good to pass up, so now I can strongly recommend you grab a glazed donut (at least) with your joe. 

I had the lightest roast (Costa Rican) and John had a cold brew (do I even need to mention at this point? Haha). 

I could swear the cold brew and Costa Rican were the same coffees, but interestingly enough, I wasn’t a fan of the hot, but the cold was great.

The baristas were fun and extremely friendly, so for that reason alone, I would give it another “shot” (heh).

You may enter this location, but there’s nowhere to really hang around (due to size).


There are several other coffee shops/bakeries I didn’t get to go to due to time (and limited shop hours), but that I wanted to check out and by all accounts, appear to be open:


Solvang: Good Seed Coffee

Pismo Beach: Surfside Donuts (serving Stumptown)

SLO: Scout Coffee

SLO: Ascendo Coffee

Morro Bay: Skippers Brew

Cambria: Lily’s Coffee House

Carmel: Lafayette Bakery

Pacific Grove: Bookworks


If you’re local or in the neighborhood, check out these shops soon to support small businesses during this difficult time... And tip generously.


Cheers!

Written by: @LACoffeeMate & autumnskinner.com/coffeemate-blog

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