Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Coffee Gallery (#7 in a Quest)

The Coffee Gallery on North Lake Avenue is as much a part of the Altadena community as is Altadena Hardware or Webster's. Every morning the locals hold round table discussions at (where else?) the round table in front, where local, national and international issues of the day are settled over coffee, pastries and a decent egg and spinach croissant. There's a conference room you can reserve for your writers group and a back room for musical performances or stand-up comics. Everything you need to know about Altadena is pinned on the community bulletin board, and everyone you want to know, or just about, will stop through at some point during the day.

I'm quite familiar with the Coffee Gallery. When John and I first moved to Altadena we thought it was called "Awake and Open" because of the sign that hung above the sidewalk, alerting us to caffeine. We liked the coffee and the laid back atmosphere. It was a good place to hang.

The photo above is of barista Fly in a rare moment of peace after last Friday's monumental morning rush. That day the local chapter of the Independent Writers of Southern California met at the Coffee Gallery, in addition to the usual regulars, and the cook didn't show up. Fly was on his own. He handled it with grace and even humor. Mid-morning was much quieter.

I like the food, when I can get it. At any another place if the cook hadn't shown up, the manager would have been in the kitchen cooking, making sure the customers were fed. At the Coffee Gallery, well, we all had to make do with bagels and muffins. And to give you an idea of the vibe of the place, we were fine with that.

I stayed after the meeting and sat with my laptop near the front to enjoy an extra cup of coffee. The huge picture window views Lake Avenue and lets in a lot of light. I got some work done, but I was too hungry to stay long. Still, I'll go back. For me, the key with the Coffee Gallery is to go at a time when it's not crowded (and when I'm not hungry). It's a great little place with free wifi, and guess what: no music! They don't play any music! Eureka!!!

The Coffee Gallery marches to its own drummer. After all, its website url is funkylittlecoffeehouse.com. But as long as those drums are silent, hey - I'm there.

20 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

Again, a nice, good place, but another imperfect place - food is just ok, with your average pastries, and I'm too lazy to drive up into Altadena when I can have my cafe & much closer here too.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Rolfmao alfaromeo hilarious no sound


What about da power? My laptop she's a cacputzsky.

Keith said...

Been to see musicians a couple of times in their backstage room and enjoyed it. It's a good place to see acts and they have some good acts to see.

Jilly said...

I love this series. You and I would have a ball in Menton, with the necessary trips across the border to Italy - for even better coffee.

Sharon said...

Even though I'm not a coffee drinker, I do love little places like this. There is a locally owned place close to me that is in a converted gas station. I stop there often for a pastry and an iced tea.

altadenahiker said...

Was there yesterday. Yes Miss H, you can plug in. I didn't realize they had real live food -- like of the bacon and eggs variety? Gonna have to try that.

Susan C said...

I'm walking distance from the Coffee Gallery, so I'm a regular. I like to plop myself on the back sofa with the laptop on my lap and my pot of tea on the coffee table.

Petrea said...

It's imperfect, C.O., but have you been there since they added an actual kitchen and cook? Pastries are average, I grant you.

Miss H, I forgot to check to see if you can plug in. Thanks, Karin. I've got to put that on my checklist from now on. I remember the power cords at Bean Town.

Keith, I know others who love seeing acts there. I've never done that. I find the back room claustrophobic (not sure why - no windows?). But maybe I'd like it at night. Everyone I've talked to loves the acts they get.

Jilly. Jilly. Jilly. A little obsession has begun in my heart and it won't stop until my coffee shop quest has been fulfilled with you in Menton.

Sharon, that sounds like a cute place. I love it when a building is reused in an innovative way.

Yeah, breakfast, AH. They call it the "Beat Kitchen." I don't know if they do lunch, definitely not dinner. They do it their casual, wholesome way and it's tasty.

Susan, if I'm really going to do this Coffee Shop Quest right, I'll have to get used to having the laptop on my lap. So many of the places have inviting couches.

St├ęphane Kardos said...

I've never been there yet, been across the road a lot at Ronnie's to sketch the fantastic cars and gas station, so I'll give it a go next time, I can draw the vintage cars from the Coffee Gallery sipping a good cup of French Roast :)

USelaine said...

This sounds like the best "fit" you've described so far, but you are so diplomatic about them all, it's hard to tell. I hope you'll do a compare and contrast recap at some point.

You've pulled me in, and I don't live anywhere near these places!

Tash said...

Good to see an independent coffee place doing well. I'll check it out sometime when I'm out that way. This one is a good find, Petrea.

Margaret said...

There is a great energy about the Coffee Gallery too. I don't live in Altadena, so I don't make it to the Coffee Gallery too often, but when I do, the place always seems vibrant.

maria said...

okay i was ready to comment on the coffee shop when my eye caught a glimpse of Mrs. Petrea Clause. love the hat.

one of the jobs that i want to have in my life time is to be a barista. i would love to express those expressos.

ms. jilly......i may have to hop in Petrea's luggage or die and come back as a dog ;-)

Leslie in Altadena said...

I've attended many outstanding performances in the back room and the acoustics are fantastic! This place is a hidden gem for live music.

marley said...

Have you reached the Holy Grail in your quest?! I like the sound of this place, my cup of tea (if they serve it!)

Christie said...

Hooray! It seems like you have found a contender. Congratulations on your find, but may you continue searching so that we may enjoy more posts about it! :)

Virginia said...

Humor me. I'd like to rename it to... Hunk and a Muffin.
V

pasadenapio said...

When I was working on a long-term project at KPAS a while back, I stopped at Coffee Gallery on my way to the station every morning to pick up pastries and hot chocolate for the crew. They swore it was the best hot chocolate ever.

Haven't been there lately because it's not on my way to City Hall. Will have to make a detour.

Petrea said...

Elaine, I didn't think I was being all that diplomatic. When I said the coffee was BAYAD at Zeli, I meant it. And I don't like the food I've had at Zephyr, though I love the atmosphere. (Saying that is sacrilege in this town, the Zeph's an institution.) I like your idea of a comparison recap.

Marley, I do have a couple more up my sleeve that I think are pretty great. My list is looooong! Many more to visit.

"Hunk and a Muffin." I LOVE IT. Just remember, west coasters, Virginia's in a whole different time zone.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Was just in the Coffee Gallery this afternoon. Way different than being there in the morning--calmer. Perfect for working. But...there was music. Nothing too egregious, but it was there.