Coffeebar Byul: OC's Most OCD Coffee Shop

Courtney Hamilton
Nice, white space with everything in its place

By Courtney Hamilton

Husband and wife Jae-Ho Synn and Jin Sun Ahn talk about coffee and tea as if they were the very nexus of art and science. Synn drops words like "manual agitation" and "calibration" when describing brew methods at Coffeebar Byul in Irvine, while Ahn refers to the shop's drinks as her art. But whether they're the results of science or art, the drinks at Diamond Jamboree's newest coffee shop are developed with fanatic attention to detail.

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Paradise Perks, Irvine's Coolest Coffee Shop, Closes Because of Noise Complaints; A Eulogy and a Rant

Photo by Kristine Hoang
Bye :(

As of June 22, 2014, Paradise Perks, the best coffee shop in the City of Irvine has closed its doors. Why? Was business poor? Was foot traffic not enough? No. Paradise Perks closed for the most stereotypical Irvinian reason ever: Its Wednesday night open mics, which ran from 7 to 11 p.m., attracted too many noise complaints.

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Caffè Bene, South Korean Coffee Chain, To Open in Irvine

Flickr User Chantelle
Korean Starbucks?
A reader e-mailed me this yesterday:

"Since you had the scoop on Burntzilla coming to the Trader Joe's shopping center, I'm wondering if you know what might be going in the space across the street that used to be Seattle's Best Coffee? The Quizno's that was next door to that just closed as well and my daughter said both areas are being cleared out. Any scoop?"

I told her I didn't know, but I aimed to find out. So I got a hold of the leasing manager at Heritage Plaza and he revealed that they signed a lease with Caffè Bene to take both spaces.

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Jeff Clinard, Former Portola Coffee Lab Wonk, Opens Bear Coast Coffee In San Clemente

Dave Lieberman
Come to me, my caffeinated baby...
Anyone who went to Portola Coffee Lab after they opened their cafe in the OC Mix in Costa Mesa knows Jeff Clinard. He was as much a fixture there as Jeff and Christa Duggan, the owners; he presided over the place much of the time, and was one of the friendly, approachable faces to what was an overwhelming paradigm shift in how coffee is made.

Suddenly, he disappeared. Clinard lives in San Clemente with his young family, and wanted to stay a little closer to home. He resurfaced with his own brand, Bear Coast Coffee. Like Portola, Bear Coast is starting from a tiny rented space inside another business. In Portola's case, it was Layer Cake Bakery; Bear Coast is inside the Cellar on Avenida Del Mar.

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Starbucks' La Boulange Pastries: The Most Disgusting Breakfast On Earth

Dave Lieberman
Starbucks has always had crappy pastries. Their scones have always been dry; their doughnuts have always been leaden; their much-vaunted hot breakfast sandwiches taste like salty cat tongue and rubberine egg inside a miniature bedroom pillow three weeks overdue for a wash. The pastry case has always been the breakfast of last resort for bleary-eyed business travelers on autopilot, purchased in airports only because it's better than the spooge served on board the aircraft.

They've outdone themselves this time, though, with the co-option of the La Boulange name, a small chain of decent-but-nothing-special bakery-cafés in San Francisco. Starbucks bought them out for $100 million a year and a half ago, in the hopes of revitalizing their quick-service food options.

It didn't work.

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Caffeine and Coiffure at Platinum Brew in El Modena

Dave Lieberman
"ESPRESSO!" screamed the ubiquitous tall flag on a curved pole as I headed east on Chapman, intending to stop for a cup of liquid charcoal at the Fourbucks in El Modena after dropping my daughter off at school.

Quick left . . . okay, where's the espresso? It's not nice to hide espresso from the desperate and undercaffeinated, especially not when it advertises coffee by Kean.

Another sign as my truck bumps over the driveway lip: "LOCATED INSIDE SALON."

That's right; not content with having once sprouted delicious Korean dumplings in liquor stores, fantastic burgers in gas stations, and unbelievable backyard barbacoa, Orange County has sprouted a great coffee shop in a nail salon.

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French Coffee Costs $9.60 If You're An Asshole, $2 If You're Nice

Flickr User Yen Huang Yong
I wonder how this'd go down here..

At a café in Southern France, your coffee's going to cost a lot more if you're an asshole. The menu at Petite Syrah in Nice lists "un café" for seven euros ($9.60) but a "Bonjour, un café, s'il vous plait" at only 1.40 euros ($2.00).

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Third-Wave Coffee Is Killing Itself

I love great coffee; there's something about the first aerated slurp of a truly great cup that suffuses my body with relief beyond the assuaging of my insistent caffeine addiction. I seek out the great when I can, but I am sufficiently dependent upon coffee that, should I need to, I will drink the chemical-laden sludge that oozes forth from the three-in-one spigot at the gas station.

There's one place I won't go anymore, though, and that is the so-called third-wave coffee shops, the new generation of coffee bars with patent machines and a heavy concentration on knowing exactly which patch of steep, shady, equatorial land the coffee beans came from.

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Portola Coffee Lab Announces New Bottled Iced Coffee

Portola Coffee Lab
Legions of Portola Coffee Lab fans will no longer need to wait in line each morning for a cold brew. They can simply open their refrigerators.

OC's temple of caffeine has announced it will offer bottled iced coffee, a move that will expand the Portola empire. Co-founder/owner Jeff Duggan talks to us about the bold new project.

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Web Extra: Highlights And More Photos From Our Cover Story On Portola Coffee Lab

This week's cover story features Jeff and Christa Duggan, the husband-wife team that brought third wave coffee to Orange County in the form of the mad science spectacle known as Portola Coffee Lab. Read the story here and pick up a copy on newsstands now.

Here are a few interesting things we learned about the Costa Mesa-based coffeehouse:

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