Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's a Grind, All Right (#4 in a Quest)

Here's what I've been looking for: the perfect coffee shop where I can take my laptop, enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps a bite to eat, and get some serious writing done away from the distractions of home.

Commenters here have given me a list of great suggestions, and I'm ticking them off one by one. Yesterday I crossed off the Daily Grind.

The Daily Grind is a chain, which should have been my first clue. The Pasadena branch sits at the southwest corner of Green and DeLacey Streets, tucked away from the sidewalk with a large, inviting patio out front. Bit with music blaring inside and outside, it's hard to concentrate. I could have left, but then how could I blog about it? So...

I had an iced tea - strong, fresh-brewed, very good. They offer a variety of coffees, snacks and sandwich wraps. You can get free wifi with a purchase, limited to two hours.

The service was friendly and the place is clean, but music is a deal-breaker. It was too loud even for conversation, much less writing. I couldn't write a grocery list in that atmosphere.

So I took my iced tea to go. Didn't get much writing done.

If you're by yourself and you want to have coffee and listen to some music, the Daily Grind might be the place for you. But if you want to have a conversation there, you're going to have to yell.

25 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

Like I said P, everyplace is the not-so perfect place. This has the free wI-fI but apparently 2-loud music. Too bad, that's a real grind.

I prefer background music if it's not loud & we could hold a conversation.

So, it seems w/o the loud music, P, you might have been at least a semi-regular? Aside from de music how was the interior?

I have another place in SMadre, opened about a year. Usually see laptops in it. Gotta get the exact name.

Vanda said...

Those chairs don't look too comfortable either.

My main beef with most coffee shops is actually the coffee. I don't like the bitter kind that Starbucks seems to be so proud of. My choice of brew is the smooth Gavina type.

Miss Havisham said...

Hmmm... I'm curious about the Equator these days== 22 Mills Place

Have not been there in awhile.

HearkenCreative said...

Sorry, Miss Havisham, Equator still has great coffee, but they are more "upscale/posh restaurant" (or at least attempting it) and less "funky coffeehouse with loud music." When I walk in they look at me weird because I'm in grungy jeans, and not with a date, and only want to get a nice big latte to go. I liked it back when their counter had a big sign on it that said "Too loud for you here? Go to Starbucks." But college folk still flock there for the hookahs.

Laurie said...

I'm thrilled to be close to Kaldi and Busters. Both offer me just the right blend of calm, good coffee, nice vibe and organic/non-corporate setting for the little time I get away for some me time.

On the west side, I loved Novel Cafe in Santa Monica and Urban Cafe on Pico in West LA. Also, there was the old Lucy's Alibi. I haven't really explored Pasadena coffee houses because I always have a toddler in tow and I kinda lucked out with my local spots! Seems like I've noticed some interesting folks hanging out at a place right by Pasadena Playhouse -- or am I mistaken?

Okay, I've written a novel here. This is a great shot, P! Even if the mood wasn't right you got a beautiful image.

Kelly said...

When you are back this way again, I hope you can come visit. We will go to Graham's 318 on Third Street!

At least the tea was good!

elizabeth said...

I have never heard of the Daily Grind. I must be living under a rock.

Have you added Zona Rosa to your list, Petrea? It's the coffee place Laurie mentioned, on El Molino by the playhouse. I remember the atmosphere as nice, if a bit echo-y, but I don't know about the wifi situation.

Bibi said...

I don't know why some cafe owners believe patrons want loud music or even any music for that matter. I was kind of hoping it was a Belgrade phenomenon, for often here you do have to shout...so I don't go to those cafes. I do like your photo though!!

Cafe Observer said...

LA, 1 of those "interesting folks" was actually an interesting dog. You people! That place is tiny Zona Rosa Mex Cafe. Upstairs seating as well. It's ok, but no WiFi. And, you haven't "written a novel here." This is very short for you.

Petrea said...

I'm with you C.O. Background music is okay, even better, NO music is better (like Bibi says). The interior of Daily Grind is tiny. This place is all about the patio. Let me know about the other Sierra Madre place and I'll check it out. I'm on a mission!

Vanda, I sat inside and the chairs were fine. Don't know about the patio.
I wrote off Starbucks before I started. Their coffee beats diner coffee that's been on a burner all day, but they run the A.C. up to freezing and I get too cold there.

Miss H. and Hearken, I added Equator to the list and I'll have a peek. If I can't sit in there with the laptop I'll let you know. (The list is long and glorious, so give me time.)

Hello Laurie Love, yes! Kaldi and Busters. I'll take the old Mac to both of those spots but leave the blogging to you. (I posted about each of them before you showed up; click on "coffee shops" in the labels of today's post.) I guess C.O. set you straight on Zona Rosa, which I've also blogged about but will do so again. It's a great spot. Another on my long list to look forward to!

Kelly, you're on! For those who don't know, Kelly's in Geneva, Illinois, a beautifully-preserved town that resembles Pasadena's Old Town or even more, Sierra Madre. Businesses thrive in the old buildings and the town's just gorgeous, with easy proximity to all Chicago has to offer. Check out Kelly's blog.

Elizabeth, I wouldn't have known about it either, if Cafe Observer hadn't told me about it. It's new. Cafe Observer is very observant about cafes.

Bibi, doesn't it seem like someone would have done market research? Maybe they don't want people to sit and relax. Maybe they want us to buy our coffee and leave. Or maybe I'm not their target customer.

marley said...

I'm enjoying your reports of your mission! I never understand why places play music so loudly that it is off putting. It can't be good for business.

HearkenCreative said...

And the overloud music is spreading beyond coffeeshops, too: I was with a colleague in Pinkberry on Myrtle in Monrovia this afternoon, and the music was so loud inside I couldn't hear my own comments in the conversation. Shorter lines than the Pinkberry in Old Town Pasadena, though.

Daily Grind is so new I haven't been there yet, and it's right around the corner from my office. I'll go try it out, too...

Cafe Observer said...

I have to believe they believe their target customer is someone who likes music, and louder de better.

But, too many businesspeople only think they know who their customer is & what they want from their business. This new economy will do well to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Petrea, continue on your mission. Thank You! But, I'm afraid we've sent you to play a part in Mission Impossible.

Irina said...

Hmmm.... first I've heard of the place. I don't think that I'll be visiting it since unless I'm out dancing, loud music is not for me. :-)

Petrea said...

Hi Marley, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Is pub life the Cheltenham counterpart?

I don't get the music thing. A lot of people work on their laptops in coffee shops. Could be the younger generation works better with noise than I do - in fact I'm sure of it. And writers aren't the only people at coffee shops. Folks go there to converse, hang out, read, etc. But still, music should be background, not foreground. Unless you're going for live music, in which case if I complained about the noise I'd be nuts. But I'm not nuts, I swear it...

Loren, I don't get this whole thing of blasting music inside, or especially outside, like in outdoor malls. It's a huge turn-off, an attempt at cheer that feels fake and flat.

C.O., it's not impossible! I've found a great one, but I'm saving it. And there may be more.

Irina! I haven't been dancing in ages, have you? I wonder if I still can.

Susan C said...

I read on Caroline on Crack's blog that Equator now has a "dim sum and then sum" event on the weekends. The "then sum" is bottomless champagne cocktails and mimosas on the weekend. Definitely not conducive to writing, but could be a nice prelude to a Sunday afternoon nap.

Petrea said...

Susan, I checked out her blog (not sure I'd want to be known as "Petrea on PCP" or whatever, but hey) - It seems to me that an establishment that has an international chef on staff is probably not a coffee shop, wouldn't you say? I'm thinkin' I should take Equator off my list...

Susan C said...

Equator Cafe used to be on the funky side, but I'll bet that they couldn't make ends meet with their old coffee house model, especially since they're off the beaten path. I haven't been there for years, but am now curious to check it out.

Christie said...

Sorry this one was a no-go. Hope you keep on persevering though. It is fascinating to go with you to all these places. It is also fascinating that there are that many to try!! We have about 3 coffee places with Wi-Fi in town, and that's it. (And one is a Pie Company with sandwiches, coffee, and of course, PIE!! It is really, really good pie, in case you're wondering.)

Petrea said...

PIE! I love pie. With a good cup of coffee and some pie, who needs to write?

Dina said...

Hey Petrea, check out Jerusalem's new answer to your quest:
http://www.jerusalemite.net/blog/3676/work-at-home-jerusalemites-unite%21

Petrea said...

Pretty cool, Dina! I've heard of a place like that in Santa Monica. I think it's just for writers but I can't be sure. It's not a bad idea!

Dina said...

Maybe you should take a sabbatical and go as a volunteer (or pay as a guest) to the contemplative monastic community in Switzerland. There are several "silent gardens" or you could sit in your cell or go down to the lake or river and write. The nuns even have WiFi now.
Ever since I lived there I can't take music or noise very often.

Petrea said...

Now THAT's a good idea! It's just what I want! Every writer's dream! I'll start saving my pennies...well, my ten dollar bills...well, my--nickels.

Dina said...

Once you're there you don't need any money. Well, maybe some Swiss francs if you need Swiss chocolate...
Sorry, I forget that some people can't just pick up and leave like I did. Some people have a husband, house, dog, job, etc.