Good independent cafés are few and far between, so I count myself lucky that one of them, Javatinis, is right on my doorstep. Admittedly, the setting isn't the nicest, set in a lackluster strip mall on what feels like the edge of the world.
The drinks list is familiar (including frozen drinks with names like Mango Tango), and there's a limited choice of food (bundt cakes, muffins and plain bagels, for instance).
But the coffees are the real deal, created by people with passion for what they do.
A must-try is the javatini itself, a perfect, chilled combination of sweet and smooth (tip: don't dump any sugar/sweetener in it till you've tasted it, as I almost did).
The lattes are a cut above too; be sure to request a china cup if you're hanging around: the barista might treat you to some latte art. It's poured art, as opposed to the more complicated etched art, but it's a nice touch nonetheless. Update: now that my camera's playing ball again, I've added a photo of my latte.
So what makes Javatinis stand out from its competitors? The secret is in the beans. Owner David Vallejo buys his directly from the growers, and makes his espresso from a blend of four types. The beans are roasted on site, but they aren't ground until someone places an order. That keeps everything fresh tasting, and the rich crema long lasting. And if you buy a bag of coffee to take away, they'll custom blend it.
It's no surprise that this mini chain (there's also a location in Laguna Hills) has a loyal following. It's a shame they're not open longer at weekends (only till 2pm on Saturday, 3pm on Sunday, as opposed to 8pm Monday to Friday), but Vallejo hopes this will change in the future.
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Keep an eye out for events: as well as jamming sessions on Thursdays from 6:30pm (everyone welcome), there are monthly invitation-only roasting/tasting sessions--give the store a call if you're interested.
Javatinis, 3960 S. Main St., Costa Mesa, (714) 662-2224.
And, now, folks, for that John Lennon Latte: