Ultraserious Coffee, Orange County Edition

"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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