Best Coffee In Costa Mesa

Coffee shops are a college staple for anyone wanting to meet up with friends, wake up before class or find somewhere to study for a few hours. Since Costa Mesa has over 20 coffee shops to choose from, here is a guide to the five best near Orange Coast College.

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#5: Bad Coffee

Drinks: 3.8/5 stars

I opted for a safe vanilla latte at Bad Coffee, and it was generally good. The vanilla flavor is not too strong, making it a pretty standard coffee. It was definitely tasty and not very bitter, but this latte was not necessarily anything special or unique. They did not have traditional matcha, but they did have an alternative type of green tea called hojicha- a smoky, toasted matcha- which the barista made me a glass of when I mentioned I was a matcha enthusiast. It was definitely different from traditional matcha, it almost had an earl gray taste, but it was a nice and mellow tea.

Overall: 3.5/5 stars

Bad Coffee is a nice, classic coffee shop with a really convenient location four minutes away from OCC. There is a fair amount of high top seating and Wi-fi for students to come and do their work. The interior is filled with plants and earth tones, making guests feel like they are in nature while they work on their assignments. They occasionally have pastries but predominantly sell drinks, so if you are looking for a meal while working on homework, I would recommend somewhere else. Unfortunately, a downside of this location is the poor temperature regulation – during the colder months, this place will do great, but the beginning-of-semester heat is difficult to avoid sitting inside or outside of Bad Coffee.

#4: Hola Adios Coffeeshop

Drinks: 3.5/5

Out of personal bias, I typically would rate a matcha drink higher than any coffee, but Hola Adios’ brown sugar latte definitely outshined their Matcha Latte. The matcha was mostly milk without much concentrated matcha. It tasted somewhat artificial, and lacked that earthy flavor that typically makes matcha stand out. On a more positive note, the brown sugar latte was more bitter than I typically prefer, but the other ingredients made the flavor profile more complex and really enjoyable. The brown sugar was light but pleasant, and there were little hints of cinnamon flavor that were not expected for this drink, but balanced it very nicely. This was the perfect warm and spicy drink for fall.

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Breakfast Burrito: 4.2/5 stars

Ironically, as a vegetarian, most of the ingredients in the Bacon and Friends breakfast burrito called to me: charred green onions, white cheddar, and ancho sauce were all ingredients I don’t typically see in an average breakfast burrito, so I had to have it. The barista was really nice and accommodating, switching out the bacon for avocado so that I could enjoy the same flavors in a veggie-friendly way. The creamy ancho sauce in this burrito was amazing and stood out more than anything.

Overall: 4/5 stars

The inside of Hola Adios is obnoxiously cute. They sell little trinkets on one side of the store, including crystals, plants and blankets. The baristas are very nice as well, as the person who made my drinks made the pictured Brown Sugar Latte for me on the house. Another nice quality about this place is the variety of drinks, and the amount of caffeine-free options. They have kombucha on tap and in bottles, and various fruit sodas available. There is lots of seating and a really mellow atmosphere, an ideal spot for studying. Hola Adios is a six minute drive from OCC, in an unassuming residential neighborhood.

#3: Philz Coffee

Drinks: 4 / 5

Philz’ recommended drink was the Mint Mojito -mint and coffee is not a conventional combination of flavors, but it was way better than I expected. It was creamy and not overly minty, and had just a slightly spearmint flavor that made it a fresh tasting drink. The Philz Iced Tea was refreshing as well – very smooth yet strong. One downside of Philz drink selection is the lack of variety outside of coffee – they do have tea, but not as many as I hoped, and there are no fun specialty teas. There are so many creative coffee drinks, so it would have been good to see some of that energy put into their tea or juice selection.

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Food: 4 / 5

The pastries at Philz were tough to rate because they were so different: the chocolate donut had vibrant flavor and was really moist, while the blueberry muffin was dry and really lacked much taste. The donut was definitely a 5/5, but the blueberry muffin was a 3 / 5. They also have breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches, making it a nice breakfast spot.

Overall: 4.2 / 5

Philz’ environment was really welcoming and sweet – there are pride flags and signs about inclusivity everywhere, which really made me feel like I was supporting a good business. They also had a mini-library, a quirky and cute addition for any book lover. There is so much seating, indoor and outdoor, and a strong Wi-Fi connection for studying. It is eight minutes from OCC, and conveniently located right across the street from South Coast Plaza, giving people plenty of options to go eat or shop after they are done with their drinks.

#2: Lion and Lamb Coffee Roasters

Coffee: 4.6/5 stars

Baristas recommended the Salted Toffee Nut Latte – I ordered it iced with oat milk, and this coffee did not disappoint. As a matcha enthusiast, I usually shy away from coffees if there are tea options. However, the flavor in this drink was so complex and I loved it more than any tea I’ve tried at this cafe. It was sweet enough without being a one-dimensional sugary drink; the slightly salty notes created a unique twist on a classic caramel macchiato. There was no bitterness at all, which I really appreciated.

Breakfast Burrito: 5/5 stars

As a vegetarian, it can be hard to find a breakfast burrito that aligns with my lifestyle without being an obligatory veggie choice. Lion and Lamb’s breakfast burrito is from Rooster Cafe, typically made with bacon, but they were able to switch the meat out for avocado as a vegetarian option. This is genuinely the best breakfast burrito I’ve found in Orange County. It included egg, cheese, potato, avocado, two sides of salsa and a creamy cilantro sauce.

Overall: 4.8/5 stars

Lion and Lamb has a great environment and quality of products. The employees are very friendly and helpful when choosing a coffee drink, and the decor is cute and inviting while not being too distracting to study in. The menu is very unique and features different drinks not found in every coffee shop, with options to order in person or mobile order. They also focus on sustainability in their company, making sure to choose organic coffee and donating to various causes such as clean water, helping people afford meals and planting trees. They are located nine minutes away from OCC. It’s not the closest location to campus, but the quality outshines the distance.

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#1: Moongoat Coffee Roasters

Drinks: 5/5 stars

A very friendly and helpful barista at Moongoat recommended the churro latte as a fun, specialty drink and it was so unique in the best way. I got this hot, and it almost reminded me of a dirty chai in the best way possible. This is a really festive drink that I would highly recommend on a fall or winter night. All the coffees sounded really good, and they had a lot of really fun options.

I’ve made it clear I am typically a matcha person, but I am not exaggerating when I say this matcha latte with pumpkin cold foam was the best drink I’ve ever had. The matcha powder was well-incorporated, where a lot of times it can clump up at the bottom. I got it with oat milk, creating a pleasant and creamy texture in the tea. Above everything, the pumpkin cold foam really stood out. It is seasonal for fall, but it’s definitely the best cold foam I’ve tried. It sweetened up the matcha really nicely, and the pumpkin flavor had a nice balance of spice and vanilla in it.

Banana Bread: 5/5 stars

It’s really rare to find a good vegan pastry, but Moongoat’s gluten free and vegan banana bread was fantastic. It was so soft without being too dense, and the banana flavor was strong without tasting artificial. It was topped with walnuts, adding a nice, slightly crunchy texture. A lot of gluten free or vegan baked items can be a little too hard due to the alternative flours or too oily because butter or milk is often substituted for vegetable oil, but the texture of this bread was my favorite I’ve had.

Overall: 5/5 stars

Moongoat overall has the best quality of drinks, great snack and lunch options, prettiest interior and nicest baristas. As a student, I felt way more relaxed inside of Moongoat, like I could study there for extended periods of time without getting too overwhelmed. It’s a little unassuming from the outside, as it blends in with some office and industrial buildings – I almost passed it trying to get there. However, Moongoat is worth it if you can find it.