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.