Beanscene Espresso - Oak Park, CA
There exists on almost every block in Southern California an outpost of the "chain who shall not be named". They brew mediocre coffee (badly), serve scalding hot tea, and have low-caliber baked goods. Sadly, the prevalence of this chain has pushed out many of the funky, local, high-quality coffee shops, especially outside of LA.
Luckily, for all of those in the Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks/Agoura Hills area, there is Beanscene Espresso in Oak Park. It's a small, one-outlet place in a strip mall squished between a scrapbooking store and a dentist. It may not be as serious as the Silver Lake heavy-hitters, but what they've got is wonderful.
What sent me through their doors was a cappuccino from the evil chain: not only was it too hot, the foam had the texture of styrofoam and the coffee had a nasty metallic, burnt taste. So I stopped by Beanscene and ordered a 20-ounce nonfat cappuccino. Their chalkboard is a great guide for coffee newbies or anyone curious about what different drinks are, as each drink is accompanied by a brief description (i.e., below Cappuccino it says "1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 foam"). Prices are in the moderate range, with my order being $3.95. They offer a variety of seasonal drinks, and a selection of "Blasts", blended beverages that come in a bunch of different flavors. Iced teas and water can be refilled for $0.50.
The cappuccinos are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up; the coffee's natural bitterness is tempered by the milk, leaving only the faintest impression of equal parts bitter and toasted. There is no skimping on foam, but it is a softer, more natural creature than that found in the drinks from the chain.
Food-wise, they have diverse offerings. I haven't tried anything except a biscotti (from Naughty Biscotti); they make some of their baked goods in-house, while others come from local bakeries. For example they offer loaf slices from Stone Ground Bakery in Agoura Hills and Suzy Lou Who bars from Susie the Baker. There is also oatmeal, granola, panini, and yogurt, so they would make a good breakfast stop.
Instead of taking your coffee to-go, hang around and benefit from their free Wi-Fi. So if you want great coffee and high-quality pastries, but don't want to give-up Wi-Fi, then ditch the chains and swing by Beanscene. I might even see you there!
(Does anyone agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear opinions!)
610 Lindero Canyon Rd, Oak Park, CA 91377