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Apr 19, 2007 09:39 AM

Best Coffee in Pasadena and Environs

I'm sitting in Espress Yourself (courtyard of Pasadena Public Library) drinking my usual triple americano (for hard-core coffee-drinkers, there's also the quad-shot coffee option, but I retreated back to three shots), boyfriend drinking his single mocha. This place has been making consistently perfect coffee since it opened five years ago. Richard and his wife Jennifer, the co-owners, can't make a bad cup. Many people probably wouldn't notice the deftness with which the espresso is pulled, but even the most oblivious mocha drinker will be delighted by the tower of gently sweetened, honest-to-goodness, freshly whipped cream (Alta Dena, not Rockview brand) capping his Guittard chocolate drink. The thermos jug says "cream", and that's what it is, that same Alta-Dena heavy cream diluted with a touch of milk (most coffee houses use half and half.) This makes my americano creamier. Richard also has the knack of microwaving a croissant exactly the right amount to vaguely warm it without destroying its flaky texture.

The coffee, as mentioned, is excellent -- but please note, this is a coffee stand, not house. There are no mugs, nor comfy couches (nor regular indoor drinking area, in general). On sunny days, sit outside and enjoy the free Wi-Fi (with library card number as your user ID). On cold mornings, there are heat lamps, but perhaps the best option is to take your coffee into the library foyer, and sit at one of the beautiful dark wood-stained antique tables. The library opens at 9:00am, but for early coffee-drinkers, Espress Yourself opens an hour prior.

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  1. great review. do you know what beans their using?

    6 Replies
    1. re: revets2

      Thanks for the review. I always assumed Express Yourself made typical mediocre coffee-cart drinks -- I'll definitely give them a try!

      1. re: onebite

        I vote for Gotta Java, the little hut on Arroyo Blvd. with really sweet workers and great coffee and pastries from Europane.

        1. re: TastELA

          drive thru hut with pastries from EuroPane? thanks for the tip!

          1. re: TastELA

            I'd totally forgotten about Gotta Java, but you're absolutely right. I used to drive through there on my way to early morning volunteering at Union Station and get a large drip with cream. Their coffee is THE BEST. And the workers there are wonderful. Thanks for reminding me!

        2. re: revets2

          I'm not sure what beans Espress Yourself uses, but I am sure they're good ones. It's the level of care they take in the process that impresses me most.

          1. re: mancina

            Did I write EXpress Yourself earlier? My bad. Reminds me of the early cappuccino days in Sacramento, when coffee places would advertise their "expresso."

            Gotta Java uses Brazilian beans.

        3. You owe it to yourself to head to the Groundwork at 108 W 2d St, downtown and get a cup of coffee from their $11,000 machine (currently the only such machine in LA) for $2. It makes one cup at a time. Pretty tasty. [Taste before you add anything to it] If Ty the manager is around, he can tell you all about the machine and the coffee they use.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mc michael

            I was in downtown the other morning and wanted to go there, but didn't know the name or the address, so drove around aimlessly while waiting for the library to open. I somehow thought it was around 5th and Main, but of course there was nothing, and I mean nothing, there. lol. Ended up in Chinatown and checked out an interesting bakery, but would much have preferred a great cup of coffee.

            1. re: onebite

              Although the address is 2d Street, the entrance--at least the one I used--is on Main, I think, next to Pitfire Pizza.