From personal experience, Pasadena often gets overlooked when living in Los Angeles. There aren't that many reasons that I have to drive out there except for my rare trip to Whole Foods (it has an awesome Whole Foods, just fyi). That is, until now. I have finally found my absolute favorite coffee shop. I awaited the opening of Copa Vida from when I was out of town this summer and immediately visited the first chance I got back. From the pictures, I was expecting the typical LA coffee shop experience--adorable, well-decorated interior, perfect detail--and then mediocre to bad espresso. Not this place, ladies and gentlemen, because I present to you a place that is beautiful inside and out. Well, inside your espresso cup and outside your espresso cup. In fact, it is so great that I came back the very next day and mind you, Pasadena is 13 miles away from me. Enough hype. Copa Vida is located in Old Pasadena in the red brick buildings and relatively walkable area off of Colorado Ave. They have an extremely impressive Strada machine (and know how to use it) and currently carry Verve, 49th Parallel and Ritual coffees, rotating daily. The interior of Copa Vida is spacious and divided into two rooms (the first time I didn't know their was a back room because it can be reserved for private parties). Every time I've been in, they've played great music and the baristas are kind and knowledgable. The shop has a very clean feel with slight accents of Old Pasadena, such as old photographs and dark wooden columns. The three categories that separate their menu are "Steep", "Pressure", and "Brew". Both Single Origin espresso and regular espresso are available everyday, along with many options for tea and coffee. Unfortunately, both times I have visited I was not able to try the food but the pastries and lunch foods look fantastic. On to the important things: espresso. On my first life-changing visit I tried the Single Origin Guatemala from Verve Coffee Roasters. The barista took a good amount of time dialing in the machine, which I am grateful for. I would rather wait ten minutes for an amazing espresso after the machine has been dialed in rather than get a mediocre espresso in ten seconds. Single Origin is usually easier for me to pick up on distinct flavors and in the Verve Guatemala I picked up interesting lavender and lemon flavors. The next day when I returned, a different barista pulled a very decent shot of 49th Parallel's Epic espresso (from their batch of regular espresso). Although it didn't wow me as much as the first day, I was extremely pleased. Everything about Copa Vida is fantastic. Although it could result in drastic gas costs, I will be returning to Pasadena again and again to drink glorious espresso and even just hang out at Copa Vida.
Recommend: A straight up espresso-give it a chance because they actually do it right here!! Also, from the looks of it I would recommend the pastries (Cinnamon swirl monkey bread anyone?).
Note: It is in Pasadena, but it's worth the drive if you live in Los Angeles for a quiet place to study, meet, or hang out.
Vibe: Laid-back, small-town Pasadena feel
Espresso Rating: 8/10-- The past few times I've been back the espresso has been pretty inconsistent!
Overall Rating: 8/10
Hours: Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-9pm