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Friday, November 7, 2008

Bean Town (#3 in a Quest)

As part of my quest for the ideal coffee shop, here's one for Karin, the Altadenahiker. Her favorite coffee shop in the Pasadena area isn't in Pasadena at all. It's Bean Town in Sierra Madre.

Our Karin has excellent taste. I'm not crazy about this photo; it doesn't convey the comfy, cozy homeyness of Bean Town. The decor is eclectic, with old signs, vintage furniture and exposed brick walls. The service is friendly and fun. The music playing the other day was orchestral, which I don't mind because it doesn't interfere with concentration (or conversation, if that's your preference). And the coffee is downright tasty.

When I first arrived Monday afternoon, though the outside tables were crowded, inside I had several tables to choose from. As the afternoon progressed, however, the place filled up. A woman approached and asked politely if she could share my table. I didn't want to be rude so I said yes, thinking "I'll never be able to concentrate with another person here." I was wrong. She sat down, we exchanged pleasantries, she opened her laptop and got to work. A perfectly workable situation.

I did ask her, "Is it often this crowded?"

"Usually lots of laptops," she said.

To sum up Bean Town: great coffee, great atmosphere. Free Wifi, though it was really slow at first and I gave up on it. I don't know if the speed picked up later. It's a bit far for me to drive on a regular basis so it probably won't become my daily grind. But I like Bean Town. And Sierra Madre loves it.

22 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

Like de Beaner 2.
I'm there about once a week, usually just to eat their soup of de day or get one of their house coffee's. Quiet for the amount of customers inside.

Nice young people who work the register.

USelaine said...

Hey, I like all the different kinds of light in the same room. I didn't know there was such a thing as slow WiFi, but then I've never owned a laptop.

Rose said...

I love places with odd furniture and signs on the walls.
Was the coffee good too?

Dina said...

What a strange scene, when you think about it. Each absorbed in her own cyber world. It looks as cozy as the old Student Union at UofM, except then PCs did not exist.

Madruh Mama said...

I have lots of funny stories that have gone on there in this cafe. My daughter used to work there in her HS years. We've had some bathroom tragedies!

It's great for live music--Lisa Finni et al.

JM said...

Glad your quest is start 'giving you some fruits'. The place looks really nice.

altadenahiker said...

Yea! It reminds me of the pre-Starbucks coffeehouses, before funky was a corporate branding decision. (Did you say soup CO?)

Petrea said...

Mmm, soup. "Quiet for the amount of customers inside." Absolutely right, C.O.

Maybe my browser was slow Elaine? But in my experience it's the connection and not the browser that slows things down.

Coffee was great, Rose. Do you have a lot of spots like this in Canterbury? The coffee craze is huge in California cities, and we have coffee shops all over the place.

Strange but true, Dina. Then if you replace the laptop with a book it doesn't seem so odd.

Hello and welcome, madruh mama! I'd love to hear your stories - except maybe not the bathroom tragedies? You decide...

JM, I'm glad I chose this quest instead of "best vacuum cleaner repair shops" or "best car wash." This is way more fun!

Mmm. Soup. Let's go, AH.

Saretta said...

Do they have American, Italian or other kinds of coffee?

altadenahiker said...

Love to. Soup is one of my favorite food groups. On a Tuesday, after my ceramics class, which is right across the street.

Loren said...

Spreading the BeanTown love, here's a video that I filmed of Buddy Zapata performing there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0Ke2l4rxG4 -- the atmosphere at BeanTown is awesome, the drinks are good, and, when they have music, it's beautiful. Good choice.

Cafe Observer said...

K, Tues? what time?

Cafe Observer said...

Uh, I was just at Bean Town a few minutes ago & wish to add to my "review":

Avoid M-F btween 2:30-4:30 becuz school lets out & they invade BT & can be a bit noisy. That is, if you're an "adult" who wants 2 do a little work/study, or discuss the opposite sex.

Petrea said...

I didn't notice what kinds Bean Town had in particular, Saretta. Maybe C.O. can tell us. Typically the local shops will import several. Some will also have their own roast.

Hey Loren! He's sitting in the corner by the shutters! (Left side of my photo.)

Thanks for all your tips, C.O. And we forgot Zona Rosa. I put that on my list.

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

A couple of nice coffee shops in Monrovia on Myrtle above the 210.
AH "corporate branding decision" Thats good. I'm more familiar with the term co-op. Anybody remember the Expresso Bar in it's first location?

Cafe Observer said...

P, I didn't 4get Zona Rosa. I visit it bout twice/mth as well. Great for coffee, conversing, & reading. Upstairs or outside is feel-good.

But, otherwise it's limited if u wanna spend a couple of hours: a few pastries & coffee is about it. No WiFi. However, it does works nicely if you start or end there, combining it w/doing sum time at other cafes nearby.

I should change my name to Cafe Observer or sumthink similar.

JT said...

Great choice of coffee house and review. One of my favorite places to hang out.

pasadenaadjacent, I do remember--and used to frequent--the Espresso Bar in Old Town Pasadena. I used to go to and read poetry at their "Espresso Yourself Night" as well. I took a few photos in the mid 80s, which I will post in my blog in a few minutes.

The Espresso Bar was THE place back then.

USelaine said...

Hey, I just remembered. I thought you were trying to get away from the internet. Wazzup?

Chuck Pefley said...

Any coffeehouse with exposed brick walls is a welcome place in my opinion. I simply love the look of warm, worn, red brick!

Petrea said...

Hey JT that is cool! See my comment on your post.

Elaine, I have a really good excuse. Really I do. I have a PC at home and a Mac laptop and two different email addresses. Whatever documents I plan to work on, I email them to myself so I can download them to the Mac to work on. Usually I download them before I go out, but I had forgotten when I got to Bean Town so I needed the Wifi.

Well, you asked.

Chuck, there's a lot of that around here just waiting to be uncovered.

USelaine said...

I'm just sayin'. 6^)

Christie said...

Sounds like your "research" is a lot of fun!! I hope it continues until you find the great spot!