For fans of "serious" espresso / coffee, there's a new player in the OC area. From what I understand from an OC Weekly blog, the people behind Portola Coffee have been around for awhile now, but this is their first brick-and-mortar location, and it's quite wonderful ! As the name implies, it's got a bit of a laboratory feel to it, with lots of beautiful glassware and fancy-looking appraratus. But it's all very open and airy, and clean-feeling (yet not sterile). The baristas and other staff even wear white lab coats, to complete the picture.
The place is located in the SOCO Collection, a sort of a shared, multi-use building clustered with other mostly design/furnishing-related business north of the 405 freeway, a block west of Harbor, on Hyland Avenue.
These folks clearly care very much about the quality of their coffee -they're using top-notch equipment, and the counter-person who was helping me asked a short series of clear questions ("Is this your first time here ? Do you enjoy really good coffee ?...) to determine just how "into" the details I was and what type of coffee I would most enjoy, versus just wanting a decent cup of joe. I won't get into the details but they have an array of nice equipment (Slayer espresso machine, syphon, TWO different methods for iced coffee) to make your brew. Whole beans and teas are also sold, and a mouth-watering assortment of gear for your make-at-home efforts. That Japanese syphon at $99 is tempting...
So anyway, my double macchiato was flawless - perfectly dark, deep, complex and subtly, inherently sweet (without any sugar added, as a great espresso does not need any) flavor that lingered and lingered. Served with a nice little glass of sparkling water, too. A nice selection of pastries is also offered, and they've teamed-up with Wicked Wich, a sandwich place that seems to be turning out some great sandwiches (they looked really good, I must return soon), so you can come here and have the full lunch.
Here are their details: