It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite places to be in the world is a coffee shop. The atmosphere is always pretty calm and relaxed, and I’m always surrounded by one of the things I love the most –tea!
I’ve lived in many places throughout Southern California and Minnesota, and I’ve grown to love many coffee shops that I frequented. Of course because there seems to be fewer and fewer independent shops around these days, the majority of my favorite places are corporate-owned. And that’s fine. Honestly, I should be thankful that even these are around and seem to financially secure for now. But what matters to me isn’t what the shop is called, but how I feel when I’m there. When it comes to the location, the workers, and the atmosphere, these are the places that have made an impact on me.
Well, duh. Starbucks is easily the most accessible coffee shop to find these days, especially in Southern California where you can probably find one on every corner. Luckily I really like their teas, so it makes having to go there worth it. Also, I like having a Gold Card, which works exactly like a gift card, except after 12 drinks you get a free drink (any drink, any size), plus a freebie on your birthday. But not all Starbucks are the same – in fact, there are a couple that I know I usually avoided – but there are definitely some standouts.
My fave location:
Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills, CA – The mall itself is meh (trust me, I used to work there), but the Starbucks is great. It’s big, has plenty of seating indoors and out, and the baristas are still the best I’ve encountered. The only downside is that even when it’s 100 degrees outside, it’s freezing inside, which makes it hard to stay for long periods of time unless you have a sweater to throw on.
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
My very first job when I moved out to California 12 years ago was a barista at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. At that time, the only thing I ever drank was Diet Coke, so tea wasn’t even on my radar. It wasn’t until years later when I became an iced tea drinker that I learned to love their teas. They have a great variety of teas, a good pastry/snack selection, and a cheery atmosphere. Unfortunately there are no Coffee Beans in MN, but it’s always a place I like to stop into when I’m back visiting CA.
My fave location:
Manhattan Beach, Manhattan Beach, CA – While the one at which I worked in Studio City was pretty awesome, I prefer beach views as opposed to views of The Valley. Located just a block from Starbucks, but has about half the crowd and double the seating. Plus, it’s just up the street from the Pacific Ocean, so the views from the outside seating are pretty fabulous.
Caribou Coffee might be the only coffee shop to outnumber Starbucks in the state of MN, due to the fact that its headquarters is right here in the Twin Cities. The reasons why I love Caribou Coffee is mostly due to atmosphere, which is a lot more welcoming than most Starbucks. I love the décor of the shops, which make them all look like you’re sitting in a comfy cabin in the woods, and I love their mantra of living life to the fullest and all that philosophical stuff. When it comes to their tea, I thought the plain iced tea was pretty good until they accidently made me their Mango Black iced tea, which fortunately I ended up loving. Now that’s my tea of choice.
My fave location:
Highway 55 & Vicksburg – Plymouth, MN – My favorite thing about this Caribou Coffee is the atmosphere. It had lots of seating, lots of windows, and a friendly staff. If I ever want to go somewhere to sit and write, this is the one I always pick over any other coffee shop. I could spend hours at this location and not feel stir crazy or cooped up because the layout is so open. Plus it’s right across the street from the Plymouth library, so that’s always a plus!
Those are the big three in terms of where I get my tea, though I guess now it would be two since I don’t live in California anymore and don’t have access to The Coffee Bean. I wish there were more local independently owned coffee places near me, but in my day-to-day routine, I always choose between the ‘Bucks and the ‘Bou.
What are some of your favorite places to get tea or coffee?