“Those guys are nuts. Truly nuts about coffee,” says bsquared2 about Portola Coffee Lab, hidden inside the SOCO Collection. The place is nice, with “a bit of a laboratory feel to it, with lots of beautiful glassware and fancy-looking apparatus,” says mikester. 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.

Those baristas are using top-quality equipment, and they’ll ask you a bunch of questions to figure out what kind of coffee you want. There’s a Slayer espresso machine, a syphon, a Trifecta machine, and two methods for making iced coffee, as well as a wide assortment of gear for your home-brewing efforts.

A double macchiato was “flawless—perfectly dark, deep, complex and subtly, inherently sweet,” says mikester. And the regular iced coffee is very good, says Dommy. But the real specialty, Kyoto-style drip iced coffee, sells out fast, often well before noon.

Portola Coffee Lab [Orange County]
3313 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa

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