In the past few months, we have gone from endless rainy days to May gray, and now we predictably transition into June gloom. What does one do to brighten up what feels like endless gloomy mornings? Drink good coffee, of course!
Until recently, San Pedro remained unaffected by the popularity of craft coffee culture all over Los Angeles. One could argue that Pedro is simple and can’t be bothered with fancy hipster expensive coffee. As someone who habitually makes her own strong coffee at home, I remained indifferent, because experience has taught me that expensive coffee does not automatically equate to a good cup of Joe. But recently, I have been venturing out for morning coffee dates.
Colossus Bread’s (2311 S. Alma St.) opening was a game changer in town because their offerings are very different than Pedro’s long-standing bakeries. Owner Kristin Colazas Rodriguez is an experienced pastry chef, and her husband Nick Rodriguez is a coffee connoisseur whose company, Penny Coffee Roasters, supplies all the beans at the bakery.
The years of experience shine through the coffee drinks and baked goods. My regular order is primarily iced drip coffee and, occasionally, a latte. Colazas Rodriguez recently told me their Breakwater coffee, a cold, sweetened sparkling vanilla bean Americano topped with a dollop of house-made whipped cream, is very popular. The sweet and savory baked goods are the perfect companion to your coffee option. Overall, Colossus’ popularity is not coincidental; they consistently offer delectable options with quality ingredients.
When we first walked into Distrito Coffee (345 W. 7th St.), most longtime residents thought the same thing, “This is so not Pedro.” The minimalist décor is not what we are used to. But in my opinion, Distrito is the type of coffee shop that none of us knew, or realized, we needed in town. The menu, created by owners Gene Nagata, Kari Kennedy, Paula Bernal, Julián Ramírez, and Mateo Toro, is inspired by the Latin American coffee culture. They use organic ingredients and make in-house syrups with panela, an unrefined cane sugar popular in Latin America. The difference in taste, compared to commercial overpowering sugary syrups, is noticeable because there is a balanced level of sweetness.
Overall, what keeps me going back is the consistency of the drinks. Popular menu items are honey vanilla latte, panela limeade, and cortadito (espresso, panela, and milk). My new delightful discovery is their espresso tonic, a cold drink made with a shot of espresso and botanical tonic. They also have a selection of good sweet and savory pastries to enjoy with your coffee.
The oldest coffee shop in town is Sacred Grounds (468 W. 6th St.); however, its future is uncertain due to the upcoming Warner Grand Theatre’s renovations closure at the end of the year. During a recent visit, owner Dave Lynch told me that the coffee shop remains open until further notice and that, for now, there aren’t any plans for them to reopen on the property in the future.
For a long time, Sacred Grounds was the only coffee shop in Downtown San Pedro; it has endured the test of time and has served our community for many years. Its clientele and vibe are unique; it’s unpretentious, with a steady stream of regulars who pop in to pick up coffee or hang out in the sitting area.
They roast their beans in-house, and their menu offers a variety of hot and cold coffee drinks. It is also the only coffee shop that offers self-serve coffee. My friend Mitch Riggin, who moved to town a couple of years ago and enjoys stopping by regularly, suggested ordering the off-menu dirty chai, a chai latte with an added espresso shot. I had never had one and liked it. They offer the usual coffee shop sweet options such as muffins, cookies, brownies, bagels, etc. But if you are a pecan bar lover like me, you must treat yourself to one with your coffee. They are simply perfect. spt