Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pasadena Coffee Company (#2 in a Quest)

On election day I needed a break from the TV, radio and noise. I took my laptop out to continue my quest to find the perfect office/slash/coffee shop for me to write in. So here's installment number two:

I'd been wanting to check out the Pasadena Coffee Company, a.k.a. Caffe d'Amore, for a long time. It got glowing reviews on

My experience was different from that of the happy reviewers. I expected a charming hole-in-the-wall. It's not a bad spot, but charming it is not. The counter guy wasn't rude, nor was he particularly friendly. And the place is low on atmosphere. It's small, with fluorescent lighting and bright, white shelves with not much on them. There are about five tables with chairs inside. The tables at the front were occupied (lots of chatty folks and some kids) so I moved to the back where the tables needed wiping.

The Pasadena Coffee Company, based in Monrovia, has specialized in gourmet coffees since 1969. The latte I got tasted fine but not strong enough to suit my palate.

The chair was way too low for the table. Or was the table too high? I was like a little kid a the grown-ups' table. Bad bad bad for typing.

No wifi.

Conservative talk radio playing. Talk radio of any kind is not conducive to writing.

I wouldn't give the Pasadena Coffee Company a bad review. I think they're geared more toward retailers, though they do have a consumer product line. It's obvious from the insider pages reviews that the cafe has its fans, but it's not a spot for quiet communion with one's muse.

I soon left and continued my quest that very day. More exciting installments to come! Do you have a suggestion or request? What's the best spot in the Pasadena area to park one's butt and one's laptop? I will not stop until I've tried them all! Well, all the good ones at least...


Cafe Observer said...

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any cafe that will completely satisfy, P. They all fail in some area. I wish I could open The One up.

4 me wIfi & good coffee are the minimum. EuroPane comes de closest for me...but no WiFi & can get very busy. 1 day I hope to help the owner get wifi. If that happens, the 2nd happiest person, after me, will be Jill D.D!

Thanks 4 your review of PCC. I always thought it was a college.

btw, re your question last nite: I left the answer over at pa's

freefalling said...

Don't those two palm trees look like something has given them a fright?

Dina said...

Well, the sky is impressive.
Good luck in your quest for the holy grail of cafedom.

JM said...

I'm very demanding on a couple of things and coffee is really one of them. I think that is my only frustration when travelling abroad cause I've never tried a really good expresso as I can have it here or in Italy. Combining that with a great atmosphere is a pleasure of the Gods! :-) So, good luck on your quest.

Loren said...

I second your quest for a good shop to write/reflect in; the only ones I have found that work well are Zephyr on Colorado -- they have a nice outdoor back patio, and Kaldi in SoPas. I usually work outside at both locations. Both have free WiFi and good coffee beverages. Unfortunately, both get busy/noisy often. Keep us posted if you find any good new spots!

JT said...

I have similar thoughts about Pasadena Coffee Company. My favorite is Bean Town in Sierra Madre.

Kathy said...

Here's a completely random suggestion: the La Canada McDonald's playland. Our pastor mentioned this Sunday that it's one of his favorite places to go, and that he's able to concentrate well amidst the chaos. I think they have wifi.

But that takes a certain mentality to endure. My kids are teenagers, and I'm happy to be out of that toddler stage. I can't imagine hanging out at McD's to get work done. :)

Susan C said...

I think The Coffee Gallery in Altadena has just the right noise/activity level for writing, but their coffee isn't great. I usually opt for tea.

Stéphane Kardos said...

The sky on your photo is beautiful, great sky to paint.

Petrea said...

I may have already found one, C.O. Maybe two. Yeah, Euro Pane gets busy, but I could try it non-lunch hour.

Freefalling, maybe it's the cloudy sky. A lot of palm trees in town lean south. I guess it's because of the sun in the southern sky?

Thanks, Dina. It's a fun quest.

A pleasure of the gods indeed, JM! And the atmosphere I seek for writing may not be the same as what I seek for relaxation or people-watching. This is indeed a particular quest.

Thanks, Loren. Perhaps I'll give Zephyr another try when I'm not hungry. They do have the choice of good atmosphere either indoors our out. Kaldi's great, but that's Laurie's territory (

Bean Town comin' up, JT!

Hi Kathy, I'm not sure I could endure a McDonald's, but would love other suggestions from LCF!

Susan, I love the Coffee Gallery and have done some quiet work there before. I'll put it on my list.

Petrea said...

Bises to you, too, Stef!

Cafe Observer said...

P, you found TWO!?
I hope they're not any place I've been 2.
When will you reveal the secret info?

Trish said...

hole-in-the-wall places CAN be good. Just not this place. Tough to enjoy your coffee if you're trying to type at the kids table.

The palm trees, I have been told lean that way due to the wind. But I have no proof.

Have to agree McD's is not conducive to writing, especially if some kid is beaning you with a plastic ball! Kaldi's is great---hey, you ventured out to Monrovia...why not SoPas? Quaint little town, you outta try it (I'm a little biased)! ;-)

Good luck in your search!

Anonymous said...

I like the coffee shop at the Put and Strut in South Pasadena.

altadenahiker said...

By pure coincidence, I was there this a.m., on my way to Huntington. Wish I'd seen your review first. I thought they were rude and I'll never go back. Coffee was not good.

Beantown in Sierra Madre is still my favorite.

Cafe Observer said...

Beantown, K?
I'm there at least 1/week. I gotta ck you out!
Just got back from Zeli's. One of my fav's.

Miss Havisham said...

Oh, that place has a little backstory that I know about. When I worked in the English Dept. at PCC (the college) one of the employees was the mother of the new owner of the Pasadena Coffee Company. He had inherited it from his grandmother who had died sometime around 2005 or 6. I don't think there is a Monrovia connection. It's a family that owns a bunch of small businesses around this town.

But since my mother taught me to not say anything at all--if it wasn't nice, I'll have to stop. What I think about it is not vetty nice at all.

It surprises me that Rush Limbaugh himself wasn't sitting across from you chewing on a stale sandwich. The place gives me the creeps only because it reminds me of a certain person whose negative energy is splattered all over it.

So vetty different from a place like the old Ebar off Raymond, where Margaret Schermerhorn's lovely smile could light up a path for the next century and beyond--the warm feeling still remains in my cups of espresso memories.

Miss Havisham said...

Caffe D'Amore is a cmpletely different company from pasadena Coffee Company... not the same thing. Totally different.

Mary Kathleen O'Looney said...

Yeah, Miss H is right. They ride the coat tails of the outfit in Monrovia (an actual coffee roaster, etc.), Pasadena Coffee Company is a full-line distributor of coffee & tea related products and a scroungy place to spend even 5 minutes in. I've had better times in a dumpster with Aunt Sally and a couple of Red Bulls.

altadenahiker said...

I like to go the anything but Starbucks route and tuck in to a local business. What are the best ten places around town?

Cafe Observer said...

Top 10 list 4 what, K?
Cafe's & Coffeehouses to do a little work & eat?
Well 5 at least:
Main Pasa Library
Fuller Seminary Bookstore & Cafe

They each have their faults. I'm sure I'm 4getting at least one other.

There are others in ye Olde Town which look good from de O/S but I'm not familiar with bcuz I tend 2 stay outta de touristy Pasadena.

Christie said...

Good luck with your quest!! I hope you find the perfect writing spot soon, but I have to say the search is, in itself, a fascinating study. Maybe someday that will be my life, but not for several years yet. I have 2 prior commitments, one of whom I'm helping through 4th grade this year, the other, 1st grade. But I have to admit, homeschooling is fascinating as well.

Petrea said...

Trish, I've ventured to Sierra Madre, but I think the only time I posted a Monrovia photo was from a blogger get-together. Keith does a great Monrovia photo blog and Laurie does a great South Pas blog, so although I happily tread in those lovely burgs, I don't post photos of them here anymore. (Might occasionally do so on Overdog if I see fit.)

Put and Strut?

Interesting history, Miss H. The place is a little confusing. The address for Cafe d'Amore is 1633 Walnut but there's no building there. The Pasadena Coffee Company's at 1625, and their stuff has "Cafe d'Amore" logos on it. Their website, too (where I got the Monrovia info). I don't know what's up.

But Aunt Sally and a couple of Red Bulls - who doesn't prefer that to just about anything, even the Rose Parade? It's not a fair comparison.

I'm trying to stay out of the chains but I found one good one. I'll share it soon. No Starbucks, though. Although they accommodate laptop jockeys like myself and they'll do in a pinch, they run the A.C. at freezing cold temps and I'm not crazy about the coffee.

Thanks for the suggestions, Mike. My list lengthens.

Christie, your noble pursuit is more important than any coffee shop. Though you've mentioned one in Petoskey that sounds cozy. The Roast & Toast? I think I'd like it.

Cafe Observer said...

Petrea, other places 4 U & other loco's 2 ck out.

1st in the tourist Old Pasa:
The new Daily Grind on Green St
Aux Delices Bakery Cafe on Colorado; French & haven't been there in a while.
The new Bird Pick Tea & Herbal on Delacey.
And, Cafe Alibi on S. FairOaks. I think it used 2 b called the 2nd Cup Cafe. Looks attractive but since I don't go much indie Oldie Pas...

So, a couple more where I have been 2 regularly indie past:
Schuberts Cafe @Colorado/LosRobles. Small/Quiet. No WiFi last I ck'd.
And, Lovebirds Cafe on Colorado, basically across de st from EuroPane! How could i 4get it. That's what 1 of de owners said 2 me when he saw me on the street last week. Used to be a regular. I told him, "I'm coming over, again." Free WiFi last I ck'd. AVOID 12-2 lunchtime if you want quiet study time.
Zephyr we already know. And, I'm sure others will come 2 mind while asleep.
Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock is 4 de occasional out of town change.

So, P, this is your new non-paying role, should you decide 2 accept.
Rehearsals? Not 4 this. Even make-up is not provided. Admittedly, this may be 1 of your most challenging roles, but your pay will be in the satisfaction you provide 2 your fellow locals as they search for de Holy Cafe at the end of de rainbow located somewhere in Pasadena.

Bernie K. said...

Put and Strut?
Bird Pick Tea?
You people don't need anymore coffee—you need a nap.

Cafe Observer said...

B de K: a nap 4 me, 4 sure at the very least!

Then some good coffee 2 awaken.

Petrea said...

Great suggestions, C.O., thanks! My list continues to grow. It will be a pleasure to check out every place. Some of them I've been to, but the blog needs a report. My payment may be in satisfaction to others, but certainly to me as well.

Then my nap, Bernie.