HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


The Absolute Best Espresso in Orange County

I am still looking for the Best, most Authentic Espresso in Orange County. Please do not post Starbucks or any other corporate coffee house. I am looking for a real Barista who puts his heart and soul in to every cup.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Try Kean Coffee

    They roast in store, and the baristas who know what they are doing.

    Kean Coffee
    2043 Westcliff Dr Ste 100, Newport Beach, CA 92660

    5 Replies
    1. re: christoofat

      I second Kean. I think it was started by the son of the Dietrich's chain, after they sold out to *ahem* Starbucks. It doesn't pop up in the links, but there is one in Tustin as well on Newport and Main near the Souplantation.

      1. re: ocshooter

        Thank you for the recommendations, I will try it and post my results.

        1. re: Frankie D

          IME, a complete game of chances. I had 2 pretty bad ones there, one AMAZING one, and then two more bad ones. I don't play that game anymore.

          1. re: jaykayen

            I know what you mean, it seems like inconsistent baristas is the curse of Los Angeles espresso. Luxxe in Santa Monica, Coffee Klatch in San Dimas, Kean, these are some of my favorites and I have had exquisite, but also subpar drinks at each one. This is the thing, now I just take it back and ask for another, and even, last week at Coffee Klatch, a third before they got it right. This doesn't happen in SF or Portland, because the clientele would pitch a fit. So stand up for your espresso until they get it right.

            Coffee Klatch
            806 W Arrow Hwy, San Dimas, CA 91773

      2. re: christoofat

        Had an espresso on Sunday at Keans and it was just awful. I didn't expect something on Intelligentsia level but you would get better espressos at Starbucks (if I ever would buy one there).

      3. Consistency, lack of same, is the problem at Kean, whose beans are delicious.

        Such nice people work there... wish there was more attention paid to quality control or training or whatever it would take to make it dependable.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Allmodcons

          In particular, the beans from Rwanda were delicious, at least I thought so.

        2. I absolutely LOVE Kean Coffee. By far one of the best coffee shops around.

          Kean Coffee
          2043 Westcliff Dr Ste 100, Newport Beach, CA 92660

          1. Hidden House Coffee in San Juan Capistrano is the absolute best, every time.


            1. The absolute best espresso in Orange County is at Paninoteca Maggio, in the little live-work lofts near Mother's Market in Santa Ana. For some reason, the Italians can make an amazing espresso even in the United States without some big hipster fuss about it.

              It blows—and it sorrows me to say this, because I love both these places—both Kéan and Portola out of the water.

              (Yes, I know this was an old post... but Paninoteca Maggio is new.)

              5 Replies
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Had a Toscana and an espresso for lunch here today. So damn good!

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I am in the area at least twice a week, but they close so early and are not open every day. I want to go... but keep getting thwarted.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    I'll have to hit it up. Is it pretty close to Lola Gaspar's ???

                    Speaking of which what do you think of LG ?

                    1. re: kevin

                      It's about 2 miles North up Main St.; by the 22 and the 5.

                  2. Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa seems to take their coffee very seriously. I'm not an espresso connoisseur, however, I think it would be worth checking out. It's in that SOCO shopping center off of Harbor and the 405. They're part of the OC Mart Mix. Good luck!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: iheartgelato

                      Also, Cafecito Organico is opening up (or perhaps it already has?) at the Lab on Bristol in Costa Mesa. I've been to their location near LACC a few times and the roasts have been excellent, though barista skill is hit-or-miss.

                      1. re: Bradbury

                        oh, this is the joint catty-corner from Scoops on Heliotrope ?

                        1. re: kevin

                          Cafecito Organico is directly next door to Scoops. Scoops is 712 N. Heliotrope, Cafecito Organico is 710.

                        2. re: Bradbury

                          I think it opens this weekend. (The OC location that is)

                      2. Portola Coffee - Not quite to the level of Intelligencia, but the best in OC.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: funkyshanna

                          Given the choice of Intelligentsia-level coffee with Intelligentsia-level attitude, or not-quite-Intelligentsia-level coffee with very little attitude, I'll pick the latter every time.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            Never had any problems with attitude at any of the Intelligentsia places.

                          2. re: funkyshanna

                            I honestly want to know what this means. Not quite Intelligentsia level? Intelligentsia does not even do the best espresso in Los Angeles.

                            Portola's espresso is pulled to at least the level of Intelligentsia, and higher at Theorem.

                            The only answer to this thread should be Theorem.

                            Forget Orange County, Theorem ranks in the top 5 espresso bars in the COUNTRY.

                          3. The absolute best? It very well might be the espresso you'd make in your own kitchen after investing a few hundred dollars in equipment and learning how to use it. You'd likely find that was money well spent if you amortize the investment cost over, say, a period of a year or two, versus what you'd otherwise pay over the same span of time for often hit-and-miss products at vaunted espresso joints.

                            My always perfect - or at worst near-perfect - double cappuccino each morning costs me only a few cents to make. And I'm still in my pajamas.