Two Gals Eat: A Walk to Find Good Coffee

Portola Coffee Lab barista pours their specialty iced coffee into a cup. The owner was too busy to give him name since they were short-staffed that day. Photo given on Weds., Nov. 6, 2019.

Courtesy of Portola Coffee Lab

Portola Coffee Lab barista pours their specialty iced coffee into a cup. The owner was too busy to give him name since they were short-staffed that day. Photo given on Weds., Nov. 6, 2019.

Jennifer Pompa and Sam Trejo

Whether you are craving a snack for the day or simply want some coffee or possibly something you can nosh. Join us on a journey to try out underrated coffee shops around 4th Street in Santa Ana, Calif. All locations are within a 5 min. walk from each other and have their own identity in location and menus. If you are tired of going to the same coffee shops and want to try something new, here are some of the highlights of our coffee walk.

The first coffee shop we visited is Portola Coffee Lab located just under the clock tower on Fourth Street linked to various other food shops. When you enter Portola, the location to order is in the center with plenty of space to sit and enjoy your food. The menu is clear and concise and the wait for your food is quick. 

Sam Trejo
Portola’s coffee bar and menu displays coffee specials of the day.

We decided to try the caramel macchiato as our first coffee of the day. The caramel macchiato had the perfect proportion of milk to an espresso shot which went down very smoothly and is highly recommendable at $4 a cup.

Sam Trejo
A display of sweets sold at Portola’s coffee lab.

The coffee shop has a wide range of sweets you can chow down with your coffee. We decided to try the raspberry-rose croissant and the churro croissant. When you bite into the croissant they were a little flaky but melted in your mouth at the same time. Raspberries are naturally sour but to our surprise, it was very sweet and was worth every penny. The churro croissant was very sweet but enjoyable. It was covered in sugar and cinnamon but it wasn’t too much. Bakery items items run anywhere from $3-5 each.

Sam Trejo
Jenny Pompa and Ashley Ortega playing Loteria.

Our next stop was Coffee Muse a new addition to 4th Street. The coffee place has a very different aspect to it that makes it very interesting. Each table has a cup filled with coffee beans and a deck of cards to play the Mexican game Loteria. We both ordered an iced caramel latte which had a great taste to those who don’t like strong coffee and is a reasonable $4.75. 

Jennifer Pompa
The interior design of The Den.

Our second to last stop was The Den which is located next to the Santa Ana art walk which runs the first Saturday of every month. The place has a very Bohemian vibe and great options for food. The place is very well lit and the service was great. We were seated immediately and the servers were very kind. Although the place wasn’t what we expected, it was very pleasing and welcoming.

Jennifer Pompa
Vegan Burger top right with BLTs bottom left and right.

We ordered an iced latte and a mango lemonade along with a BLT and the vegan burger.  With the amount of coffee we drank today, we believed we were going to have a sugar crash and decided to fill our empty stomachs with the food options they have on their menu. We were skeptical of the vegan burger due to the fact that we’ve never had anything vegan. However, to our surprise, we couldn’t tell the difference between a beef burger and the vegan one. The food was delicious, but unfortunately, the iced latte wasn’t as good as we thought it could be. The coffee was very watery and extremely light with coffee. Drinks run around $4-5 and the BLT was $11 with the vegan burger at $12.

Courtesy photo of the shop owner
The interior design of Maz Cafe Con Leche.

Our last stop was Maz Cafe Con Leche. It is located close to Garfield Elementary School at 608 N Lacy St. It’s a little further than the rest of the coffee shops, but it was worth the 10 minute walk from Portola Coffee Lab. The shop has a hipster vibe and a very welcoming aura.

The coffee we tried was the Abuelita Latte and the Mazapan coffee. The Abuelita Latte at $4.75 was very sweet and tasted like the brand, but with a hint of strong coffee. The Mazapan coffee at $4.25 is strong and had the taste of peanuts just like the candy that is commonly known in Mexican households.

The coffee shops we visited, overall,  was such an experience with so much coffee to try and all within a close distance of each other. Although we enjoyed every place we tried, our favorite coffee place was Coffee Muse. The coffee is close to perfect for all coffee lovers and those who don’t drink coffee. The place had a wonderful atmosphere and incredible service along with games to play.

Everyone tends to go to the same coffee shops, so take a break from the coffee chains and try something new as you get some exercise.