DOWNEY -- People traffic fills the store, as coffee-deprived customers are being held up by the girl attempting to order at the counter. She mutters, "Umm… I'll have a… no, wait. Hold on," as the giant line behind her turns into antsy customers glaring down at the girl who cannot make up her mind on her coffee selection.That girl was me. Quite an embarrassing ordeal, all the business people, students, moms, and coffee lovers anxiously waited, while staring me down with angry looks and annoyed feet tapping. To make things worse, I had to fumble through my disorganized purse and find my wallet to pay the cashier. Feeling guilty for the holdup, I promised myself that I would become familiar with my coffee taste, along with the perfect coffee shop, so that next time, the angry line would not be my fault. My expedition in search of my coffee preference was hardly a challenge. With all-nighters for homework, study sessions and personal statement essays, caffeine was greatly welcomed. With that said, I started my search at the most popular coffee franchise in California: Starbucks. With laptop in hand, along with a mess of wires, papers, and books, I drove down Firestone Boulevard to cozy up in the café and finish my work. To my disappointment, every table, chair, and nook was occupied by a crowd of people, and shockingly it was only Wednesday night. Making matters worse, I stood in a line, and had to squint at the menu and figure out whether I wanted a tall, grande, or a venti, whatever that meant. To top it off, I finally found a tiny corner to sit at, before I realized that the Starbucks did not offer free Wi-Fi. It was not a pleasant experience. I ended up going to the Coffee Bean down the street, and although I admit their cold blended drinks are much too creamy and caramelized for my taste, at least they had free internet service. Friday night, after a movie at the Krikorian theatres, I made my way across the street to the darling of Downey, 3rd Street Coffee. This coffee shop has everything to offer that a homely café ought to have, and their coffee selection is decent as well. With a wider variety of foods and snacks to offer than say the scone from Starbucks, 3rd Street Coffee is an ideal stop for a coffee and quick lunch or snack. 3rd Street Coffee is also known as a popular meeting location for groups and businesses. The location also helps business for this popular café, although I would avoid Friday nights when the middle school crowd swarms the entire street. Looking around for more coffee places to test out, I drove to the Tropicana on Paramount Boulevard. Although their coffee was a bit strong, a few of their amazing pasteles de Guayaba were the perfect complementary desserts and well worth the long wait. For a quick coffee fix, McDonalds may not have the highest quality burgers, but their inexpensive iced coffees and new frappe's are worth the visit. Especially because they are always open, while other coffee places generally close at 11 p.m., McDonalds is a convenient place to drop by for a quick caffeine dose. Numerous times, I have whizzed through the McDonalds drive-thru, and ordered a late night caramel iced coffee. One of my absolute cold-blended coffee favorites is in, surprisingly, the Stonewood Center. Right next to the food court, Kelly's Coffee and Fudge is home to the unique Kelly's Cappuccino, the only cappuccino that I've tried that is able to pull off honey and nutmeg along with coffee. Kelly's also has the Raspberry Truffle with espresso, and is definitely the place to try an interesting combo off of their Specialty Coffees menu. Trying to do work with my laptop at such a place probably isn't the best idea, but after a day of shopping at the mall a stop by Kelly's is my favorite. Happy about my progress in the caffeine world, I now know the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino, and I also learned my preferences from each coffee shop. I can venture to try other things than just the typical caramel. Word to the wise, however, when venturing out on your own coffee discovery, daily visits to café's are not advised, or else the coffee rush will leave you addicted, like me.
********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25