It’s officially September and that can only mean one thing for coffee orders: the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Considered the quintessential fall drink, this beverage is hyped from September to Christmas almost every year, with countdowns to when you can buy one for yourself. Sure it’s good, but did you know there are plenty of Long Beach coffee shops with their own specialty drinks?
Viento Y Agua: Mexican Mocha
Viento Y Agua is a coffee shop in Belmont Heights. It features an extraordinary mixture of Mexican themed decor, local artwork, and some macabre elements. This certainly isn’t Starbucks! It’s a coffee shop unlike any other you’ve visited. Directly across the street from Fremont Elementary School, and very close to Scratch Bakery, you can spot this cafe by its brightly painted exterior. This is not the ultra-sleek modernist coffee shop that many up and comers are styling themselves as. Instead, it is funky, comfortable, and friendly in a way that makes you visit again and again.
Now to the coffee itself: Viento Y Agua has cold and warm options for visitors seeking Long Beach coffee. It offers appetizing combos like lavender and vanilla, classic favorites, and our pick for the most unique draw: the Mexican Mocha and the Mexican Hot Chocolate. Made with Mexican chocolate that contains cinnamon, these drinks warm you to your toes and feel like the holidays year-round.
Steelhead Coffee: Chuck Palmer
Steelhead Coffee is located in the California Heights neighborhood. It sits close to the corner of Wardlow and Orange, with a great front-window view of the community’s famous farming mural. In comparison to Viento Y Agua, Steelhead is distinctly more of a third-wave coffee shop with a minimalist design, clean white walls, and a whole lot of local craftsmen swag. Home to many craft coffee roasters’ goods, Steelhead is a great place to head for a more artisanal approach to Long Beach coffee. It still has that relaxed coffee shop atmosphere we’re used to though.
Be sure to check out their second location at Bixby Knolls’ Steelcraft too!
All the classics are here, with espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and pour over coffee available. The real head-scratching but delicious drink to get is listed towards the bottom of the wall menu board. Their best specialty drink isn’t coffee at all! It’s the Chuck Palmer, a great iced mixture of lavender, lemon, mineral water, and tea. This fizzy drink is sour with a touch of sweetness and is absolutely delicious. Pair it with an espresso shot to get your full and flavorful caffeine kick.
We’ll be sitting in warm weather and Santa Ana winds until well after October. So why not accept our version of fall in Southern California, and get yourself a cold beverage?
Recreational Coffee: The Basilfruit & The Espresso Shake
Recreational Coffee is against the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Their front door mat says so.) So, when you go into this little shop off Long Beach Boulevard in East Village, expect high caliber coffee from good roasters and attentive care to your drink.
Continuing the theme of warm weather drinks, Recreational Coffee serves two unique local specialty coffee favorites: the Basilfruit and the Espresso Shake. The Espresso Shake is exactly what you think it is: a shake made with espresso. The quality of the coffee mixed with Strauss ice cream makes it richer than anything you’ve had before. We can assure you that it will indulge every sweet and coffee craving you have.
The Basilfruit is on the other end of the spectrum. It has an edgy mix of flavors that seem strange at first glance but actually make a really polished and well-rounded drink. A mixture of iced coffee and a basil-grapefruit reduction, this drink is sweet, herbal, and tangy all at once. It’s served with a wedge of grapefruit and looks like a cocktail from a distance. It’s perfect for sipping from the sidewalk seats.
Carmen’s Coffee Company: Nutty Brunette (Polar)
Carmen’s Coffee Company isn’t a coffee shop but actually a coffee truck! They are parked outside of the Naples Island Car Wash every day from 6 AM to 4 PM. They offer espresso, tea, vegan and gluten-free pastries, Spanish pressed paninis, breakfast quiche, house nitro cold brew, and a toddler-friendly drink menu. If that’s not enough for you they also offer some amazing, Instagram worthy drinks.
One of Carmen’s specialty drinks might be more in the dessert category than coffee category! The Nutty Brunette is a mix of peanut butter, chocolate, espresso, milk, and whipped cream. It won’t warm you up this fall, but it will definitely keep you coming back for more!
Check Out Your Neighborhood
Long Beach’s small businesses are a celebrated and valuable part of the community. The drinks featured here are only a very small collection of options. Plus, many of the shops we mentioned have even more to offer than these drinks. Almost every major Long Beach neighborhood has its own privately owned coffee shop with unique options far beyond the usual Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donut options. Next time you need a morning boost, consider visiting a local Long Beach coffee shop. It’s good for the local economy and your tastebuds, year-round. Maybe they’ll surprise you with a pumpkin-flavored drink of their own this fall!
If you want to be within walking distance of one of these great spots, send us a note! We’d love to help you find your dream house right next to your dream coffee spot!
More Local Spots to Visit: