Contra Coffee and Tea Might Make the Best Thai Tea (and Vietnamese Coffee) in Orange County

Photo by Charles Lam
Currently only available by booth :(

So, my friends and I were trolling last weekend's Orange County Night Market on Saturday evening, looking for things to consume, when a girl in a fancy t-shirt walked up to us and handed us a tiny piece of paper with a coffee and tea menu on it. Being that both I and one of my friends basically run on caffeine, we sauntered over to the Contra Coffee and Tea booth and took a look, and man was that a great idea.

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Finding the Perfect Bean at Hidden House Coffee

Hidden House mid cupping
Photo by Ryan Beitler

By Ryan Beitler

Five men surround the lone table inside Hidden House Coffee, a small yellow building blanketed by trees and bustle that sits across the train tracks in San Juan Capistrano's Los Rios District. Here amongst the distant noises of passing travelers, street performers, and the cackle of hand roasted coffee, the men are discussing their next business deal.

They are preparing for a coffee sampling process known as a "cupping," which is a standardized way to taste coffee. For a cupping, they grind the beans, pour hot water over them in thick glass cups, and wait four minutes. When the timer goes off, the group "breaks the crust" that gathers at the top of the liquid before ritualistically sniffing and tasting the coffees with cupping spoons. When the crust is broken, the enhanced aroma of the coffees punctures the air. They go around the table first to sniff each of the nine coffees, and then to taste them.

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Portola Coffee Lab in Tustin Opening THIS WEEKEND

Coffee til we drop

Before the Orange and Santa Ana spots make their official debut, the crew at Portola Coffee Lab are about ready to roll in Union Market at The District at Tustin Legacy (whew!). Which is great, since the other foodservice outlets aren't.

In fact, the Micro Roaster of 2015 is having a job fair that goes on through today over at 4th Street Market in Downtown Santa Ana [Note:They also want you to apply online]. New hires are currently practicing pour-overs at Theorem when closed. The walk up coffee bar has adjusted hours in the meantime: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Santa Ana's Fourth Street Market To Open Feb. 16, Preview at Savor Santa Ana Feb. 12

Anne Watson Photography
Fourth Street Market opens Feb. 16.

[Updated 2/3/2015 with the correct pricing for Savor Santa Ana tastes: $2. Still cheap.]

It's been a long time coming, but downtown Santa Ana's food hall is finally ready to throw open its doors to the public. The paper is down, the signs are up, and the tenants are buying their start-up ingredients. Fourth Street Market (4SM) is located at 201 E. 4th St., adjacent to Style World and across from the East End Marketplace. Monday, February 16, 2015 is opening day, though there will be a public preview during the Savor Santa Ana event on Thursday, February 12 from 5-8 p.m. where the vendors will sell small tastes for $1 $2 each.

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On the Line: Jeff Clinard Of Bear Coast Coffee, Part Two

Photo by LP Hastings
Who, me?

Comedy is a recurring theme in Jeff's life. Whether as a career choice or in his day-to-day experiences, it is those laughable moments that define who he is: a person who can not only laugh at himself, but can make others laugh. Stir in some solid work ethic, and Bear Coast has what it takes to succeed.

Have you checked out the first part of our interview with Jeff? Catch up by clicking here.
Then when you're ready for more, keep reading below.

Do you have any skills that are not food-related?
I have a laundry list of boring skills! Including, but not limited to fixing my mother-in-law's iPhone that breaks weekly, Photoshop and I am very good at presentations/PowerPoint. But my interesting skills include stunt driving, triathlons and stand up comedy.

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Portola Wins Best Micro Roaster of the Year; Plans to Expand to Four New Locations


We've known about how awesome Portola is for awhile now (They won Best Coffee 2013. Also check out Michelle Woo's 2013 story, The Deans of Caffeine), and I'm glad to say they're getting some national recognition.

Not only were they tapped to host two national barista competitions earlier this year (as well as sending their wonderful Jon Paul Doerr to the US Barista Championship to be held in long Beach in February), but they've just won Roast Magazine's Best Micro Roaster of the Year.


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Surge, Legendary Cult Soda from the 90s, is BACK!

Coca-Cola Company

From 1920 to 1933, America experienced the dark days of Prohibition. Apparently forgetting the lessons taught by those 13 grueling years, America endured a similar dry spell of the nation's lifeblood from 2001 until today, this most historic and glorious of days.

Surge is back, you guys.

The legendary super-soda with a cult following reigned supreme in the late 90s with it's "fully loaded" citrus taste that came with a buzz fit for a rabid monkey, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere.

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The Lost Bean Branches to Anaheim

The Lost Bean FB page
Something's brewing even further north

Bodie Rasmussen's oft under-the-radar coffeehouse has kept Tustin residents caffeinated for a number of years. Most recently, they took over the neighboring space to launch a modest wine bar serving small batch varietals. They are now moving on up in the world, recently announcing their expansion.

The Lost Bean is the first of six tenants to lock in a contract with ARTIC. What exactly is ARTIC? You may not be familiar with the name, but if you drive by Honda Center (via the 57 freeway) on any given day, you'll see its future home. Yes, the monstrosity of a structure being built is that and then some.

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Five Terms Angelenos Need To Know To Order Dunkin' Donuts Coffee

Cue the huge lines... glad I don't live around the corner anymore...
Dear Los Angeles:

Congratulations! You are about to (re-)embark on your Dunkin' Donuts experience. Camp Pendleton was nice, if you had access, and Barstow's a nice stop on the way to Vegas, but now Dunks is coming to the beating heart of L.A., opening on 12th and Wilshire in the People's Republic of Santa Monica on Sept. 2. More are coming, including here in Orange County, so it's time to see whether it will take off, or fizzle like Krispy Kreme.

I have bad news for you, though: you have to learn how to order coffee. See, there are no condiment stations at Dunkin' Donuts (except for that disgusting travesty of a Dunkin' Donuts in Penn Station, the shame of the entire chain). You tell the person taking your order how you want it, and there's a well-known jargon, as well known as In-N-Out's secret menu.

As a loyal, expatriated son of New Jersey, where Dunkin' Donuts has held total sway since I was a small child, I grew up speaking Dunkies' jargon, and since I love their coffee with a nostalgia only understood by Californians separated from their In-N-Out, I order it whenever I can. (I can take or leave their doughnuts, though; I actually prefer the doughnuts from the Cambodian Doughnut Cartel, except for the French crullers.)

Here, then, is how you order coffee in a Dunkin' Donuts. Don't argue: millions of people from Maine to Maryland cannot all be wrong, because, well, we're from the East Coast and we hate to be wrong.

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5 Other Orange County Coffee Roasters You Need to Try

Photo by Cleo Tobbi

It seems as though you hear about a new coffee shop opening and adding to the world of latté art and vegan scones everyday. However, as hip and prim as they are, not many of these joints actually roast their own coffee. That's no fun.

Here's a list for you of the places that do. For these guys, getting from coffee berry to cup involves hand-picking, manual roasting and no shortage of attention and care. Yes, yes there's Portola at the OC Mix and Kéan Coffee too, and they're great, but here's to the little guy in no particular order.

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