Caffeine and Coiffure at Platinum Brew in El Modena

“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.


Platinum Strands, the salon that hosts the coffee bar, is part beauty-supply store, part hair salon, and now part coffee shop. Given that I wear my hair clipped to No. 2 and have a longstanding professional relationship with Xuan, my barber, it was the coffee I was after. The coffee bar, located on the left as you walk in, serves Tao of Tea and Kean Coffee in various drip and espresso variations.

I ordered a small latte (no stupid terminology here, just 12-, 16- and 20-ounce drinks) and chatted with Sandra, who was working behind the bar. It's been open for about two months; the only way you'd know there was a coffee shop is that flapping monstrosity outside.

The latte was excellent: whole milk and espresso, with that unmistakable gentleness that is the hallmark of Martin Diedrich's coffee. I didn't even have to add sugar, which will make the diet that much easier. There were a few muffins and things scattered around, a selection of natural sodas and iced teas, and IBC root beer, with tables scattered here and there. In short, just what you want a coffee shop to be, except with the possibility of getting your hair and nails done at the same time.

The only thing that could possibly make this better would be if they made Vietnamese iced coffee. Vietnamese iced coffee in a salon? That'd be Orange County right there.

Platinum Brew, 3443 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 532-2724.

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