The Coffee Buzz Around Old Towne Orange
Is there anything better than a morning walk through our charming little neighborhood with a fresh brew in your hand? If there is, we can’t think of it! When it comes to Old Towne Orange, we’re all about the buzz—the caffeine buzz, that is. So, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to getting your coffee in towne.
Contra Coffee + Tea
Strong Pick: Gold Rush
Sweet Pick: Uh Huh Honey
On Orange Street, across from Watson’s Soda Fountain & Cafe, you’ll find the most bright, welcoming, and calm coffee shop, Contra Coffee + Tea. Here, the atmosphere may be quiet, but that’s because they let their coffee do the talking. Books line the south wall and the north wall typically features various art installations— the current one is a collection of curiously altered cereal boxes on display. The clean and tidy vibe in this shop is ideal for studying and getting work done.
Our staff pick for those who need a serious pick-me-up in the mornings is the Gold Rush. This Vietnamese-style iced coffee is sure to keep you up, up, up through even the most snooze-worthy workdays. For those that need a gentler and sweeter wake-up call, try the Uh Huh Honey. It’s sweet, without being excessive, and the honey cream makes the coffee enjoyable all the way to the last sip. A cool thing to note about Contra is that their establishment is dairy-free, making it easy for dairy-intolerant people to thoroughly enjoy their caffeine buzz.
Strong Pick: Silken Splendor
Sweet Pick: Iced Coffee Rosè
On the corner of Glassell and Maple, standing tall and proud as if to say “GET YOUR BUZZ HERE!” is Philz Coffee. This San Francisco-based coffee chain knows a thing or two about the art of roasting and is widely known for their unique coffee drinks—most notably their Mint Mojito. The Mint Mojito would have been an easy sweet pick for us, but we thought we’d take a deep dive into their menu to give you some exciting alternatives.
Humming with activity, Philz is a great setting for chatting with friends! This location leaned into covid restrictions in the best way by operating their store partially outdoors—which makes it easy to enjoy great weather while you sip your drink. If you’re looking for something strong, get yourself some of the Silken Splendor, but maybe test-drive a small size first, in case you need to pump the brakes on its powerful flavors. For the sweet tooth, we recommend the Iced Coffee Rosè. This drink is indeed sweet, but also quite refreshing, with delicious notes of rose and a little vanilla. Yum!
Portola Coffee Roasters
Strong Pick: Cold Brew Coffee
Sweet Pick: Iced Rose & Cardamom Latte
On the north end of Glassell, in the same location as Provisions Deli & Bottle Shop, is Portola Coffee Roasters. This shop features a dark and moody atmosphere—perfect for casual dates and lunchtime pick-me-ups. The best part about this place is that the deli is in the same unit, so you can fuel yourself adequately with a bit of grub to go with your caffeine.
For a nice little jolt, go with the classic cold brew coffee at Portola. With it, you’ll be able to tackle just about anything on your to-do list for the day. Our sweet pick, an Iced Rose & Cardamom latte, is less sweet and more flavorful and exotic. In this drink, the notes of rose are present, but are not as bold as the cardamom, which gives it a unique kick. Portola offers a great opportunity to try something new and exciting with their coffee creations.
The Pie Hole
Strong Pick: Cafe Cubano
Sweet Pick: Salted Caramel Latte
While appropriately named for its variety of pies, it could just as easily be called “The Coffee Hole,” for its extensive coffee menu. Located across the street from Philz Coffee, The Pie Hole doesn’t necessarily have a true coffee shop vibe, but their current outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying some java while basking in the sunshine and doing a bit of people watching.
The Cafe Cubano is your best choice to keep yourself awake through even the most mundane tasks. Its taste is smooth, rich, and very easy to enjoy. For something sweeter, get yourself a Salted Caramel Latte. It’s equal parts sweet and salty, just like its name, but completely tasty.
Strong Pick: Spanish Latte
Sweet Pick: Monkey Granita
It’s hard to miss Urth Caffe with its long lines that typically stretch outside its doors. However, a visit during the less busy hours, like weekday mornings or super-early mornings on the weekend, makes the cafe a lot more inviting. The beautifully restored historic architecture is utterly charming and includes delightful details, like vintage tiles and exposed brick walls.
Do yourself a favor and get a Spanish Latte, either iced, blended, or hot. It’s on the sweeter side, but it’s strong enough to make you feel able to conquer any task with ease—even a trip to the DMV. The Monkey Granita is like the Spanish Latte’s sweeter sister. It’s basically a banana milkshake, but with espresso and it is irresistibly delicious.
Now that you’ve got your recommendations, go forth and buzz around towne while sipping your (new) favorite coffee drink. That’s what we call “living the life!”
Don’t forget to pick yourself up a mug that not only represents your love for coffee, but your love for your neighborhood. Get your cute mugs here!