Whether you’re a writer looking for a spot with the perfect ambience or a coffee connoisseur in search of well-crafted brews, some of the best coffee shops in Orange County are hidden among its coastal areas. With businesses and locally-owned shops finally allowing guests back into their lobbies, you can finally catch up with an old colleague or friend at one of these spots while sipping on your favorite latte.
With everything from botanical-themed coffee shops to small locally-owned cafes that have perfected the craft of roasting, there’s something for everyone among the best coffee shops in Orange County. So if you’re ever cruising through these beach cities, be sure to stop in at one of these OC coffee shops for a mean cup of joe.
Contra Coffee and Tea
Located in the small town of Orange Historic District is Contra Coffee and Tea, one of the most unique shops Orange County has to offer. Adopting the traditional methods of a brewery, Contra specializes in crafting their own in-house coffee and tea. Because of their brewing style, all of their crafted beverages are served cold and tapped fresh from their kegs. Thanks to the commitment and creativity of owners Paul Del Mundo and Julie Nguyen, Contra’s menu is the epitome of diversity.
Drinks like the “Dirty Horchata,” a dark coffee infused with their house made horchata, or their Vietnamese-style iced coffee known as “Gold Rush,” keep locals coming back for more. The menu can be a little intimidating at first glance, but the customer service here is beyond exceptional, so don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or adjustments on your drink. And just like most breweries, they also have flights available if you’re wanting to experience more than one drink.
Tru Bru Organic Coffee Roasters
Hidden away in the hills of Orange is an independent cafe and roastery that is committed to making you feel right at home. Tru Bru recently renovated their space, so outside seating is available as well as a high-top bar and plenty of tables within.
The inside has a modern botanical theme as well as couches and a fireplace for making cozy conversation. Coffee lovers come here to relax and have a drink or a bite to eat and take a breather from normal everyday life. To fully enjoy the vibe, come prepared with a good book and nothing planned for the rest of the day.
They not only specialize in organic coffee but also offer a food menu that puts emphasis on organic, real ingredients. Protein choices are all sourced from organic chicken, eggs and grass-fed beef. Or, try out their smoked salmon with your choice of a bagel or toast. The coffee menu may seem a little standard, but the quality that comes from their roasting process is what sets them apart from others.
Balboa Lily’s has been serving the locals of Balboa Village for just under 5 years now. This small neighborhood coffee house is next to the lovely beaches of Newport, so it’s the perfect spot to stop by in the morning before venturing to the ocean. Balboa Lily’s has a reputation among locals already because of their signature menu of creative lattes and coffees.
Fan favorites include drinks like the Rose Orange Latte, an infusion of rose and orange mixed with espresso, steamed milk and orange zest, or their Spicy Mocha that highlights flavors of chocolate ganache and cayenne. Their unique menu features espresso roasted from local fave Kéan coffee, and their breakfast and lunch menu puts the emphasis on farm-fresh. A little out of the way, it’s worth the trip for something different.
Common Room Roasters
One of the more well-known coffee shops in Orange County, Common Room Roasters is the definition of specialty coffee. Although they may not have your typical Instagram-worthy latte to post, the coffee is why this roastery is so popular in California. Offering a range of both single origin and blended coffees, they offer a seasonal contemporary coffee menu with a variety of different brewing methods. The team at CRR believes that great coffee starts with high quality beans, so expect the perfect cup from these baristas.
The menu is limited to standard coffee shop classics, and you’ll be met with award-winning coffee blends like their Brunswick Blend; a coffee with notes of dark chocolate, almonds and blueberries that won second place for “America’s Best Espresso” in Portland, OR. You can order this go-to signature espresso to have in-store or buy it wholesale for your French press at home. Wanting to enjoy the simplicity of a perfect cup of black coffee? Go here for flavor – no frills.
Thunderking Coffee Co.
With their motto being “simply delicious,” Thunderking Coffee set out in 2015 to learn how great coffee was made, and soon they offered one of the best tasting cold brew coffees around. The Black Gold cold brew was such a hit that you can now purchase it wholesale for your fridge at home or visit in-store to taste it right off the tap.
Dean Tompkins has been serving the community of Costa Mesa for more than five years now, and you can expect your coffee to be prepared with the same enthusiasm as an expert mixologist crafting a cocktail. Carefully measuring out syrup along with a handful of distinctive ingredients, Thunderking Coffee serves a fresh list of cold brew cocktails.
Try The Best Buzz, a coconut rum cold brew that blends the flavors of amaro, cream and salted vanilla. It will have you wondering why you haven’t mixed alcohol with coffee before. If you’re looking for nonalcoholic beverages, go for drinks like the Oh Snap! Ginger, a cold brew with hints of ginger, oat milk and salted caramel. But, you can’t go wrong with the Black Gold cold brew that’s been a city favorite since they opened.
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