Spilling the Coffee Beans: A Spotlight on Claremont Cafes

May 2, 2024
3 mins read

Ellen Chapman ’27
Staff Writer

As a coffee-obsessed and pasty-scarfing individual, I have taken it upon myself to spotlight some of Claremont’s best coffee shops. If you find yourself in desperate need of caffeine and with money to spend, read on as I share my thoughts on three local establishments. 

Nosy Neighbors Coffee & Donuts

Nosy Neighbor, the recently relocated coffee and donuts shop, could best be described as emanating the same energy as sidewalk chalk and Friday afternoons in May. 

Upon my first visit, I ordered an iced “Happy Nut,” a pistachio and almond latte with macadamia milk, which was slightly underwhelming and lacked a robust nutty flavor or sweetness. My fellow coffee connoisseur, however, ordered the same beverage with whole milk and felt that it struck a perfect balance of strong flavor and subtle sweetness. 

I recently decided to give the place another try. The staff was incredibly kind and helped us narrow our choices to hot “Honey Bunches” — an oat milk latte with honey and vanilla. My friend and I split this beverage, which I highly recommend, as they conveniently have extra cups set out. Although the drink was good overall, the oat milk was incredibly overpowering, and the promised flavors, honey and vanilla, did not come through as forcibly as we wished. Most beverages are geared towards toddlers’ tastebuds and act more as a sweet treat than your daily cup of joe.

The space is welcoming and comfortable, featuring a long bar and a lovely outdoor patio crowded with Macbook-doting work-from-homers. That said, distraction-wise, it is more akin to working in a dining hall than on the fourth floor of the Claremont Colleges Library.

The drinks menu is Odyssian in length and consists of elaborate specials, including ube flavoring, zodiac-specific beverages, and monthly-themed delights. A warning to all my fellow indecisive people: making a decision here can be incredibly overwhelming. 

I recommend this spot for a fun, sweet treat and a vibrant atmosphere akin to their adorable coffee bean mascot. However, be cautious of ordering a beverage with plant milk because it tends to overpower the other flavorings.

Iron & Kin

Tucked away in the packing house, the vibey Iron & Kin coffee shop is the perfect escape when college has become too homogenous to bear, and you need a little change of pace. The cafe itself feels like an industrial greenhouse and has a variety of seating both inside and just outside in the multi-use building. The music here is well-crafted, and the too-cool baristas might even be chattier than Trader Joe’s employees. You will likely leave with a delectable beverage and an idea for a unique weekend activity or new tattoo design. 

Their specialty drinks are incredibly inventive and curated to perfection. My go-to is the “Kind Hearted:” a spicy mocha topped with salt – don’t question it, simply sip away. The flavors are powerful, and each ingredient is weighed out, ensuring balance in every sip. The coffee itself is top-notch. This is the perfect place for tasting unique flavors and spending money on something you cannot make at home, such as the scrumptious “Courageous” latte infused with bourbon and brown sugar or a smooth “Lavender Matcha.”

The magic, however, does not end at their drinks because their food selections are equally delectable. The pistachio croissant and super seed cookie are the perfect pick-me-up sweet treat, and the overnight oats and burrito are mouth-wateringly delicious. The only qualms one might have about this place is how quickly their treats are sold out because, unfortunately, they do not restock pastries in the afternoon. Additionally, the line can be very long because they craft your drink immediately after ordering so you pay with your beverage in hand. 

If you are seeking a unique and tasty drink or bite with a creative and cool atmosphere, this is the place for you. This top-tier spot is too good to gatekeep, and my bank account may be screaming, but it is worth every penny.

Lucky’s Coffee Roasters

I am feeling philanthropic today and will let you in on a little secret: Lucky’s on Foothill. This adorable establishment gives off sweet older sister vibes—cute, kind, reliable, and perfectly reflected by its adorable bunny mascot. The cafe space is simple and classic—nothing too flashy, but cozy and great for grinding assignments. It boasts a large amount of seating and has a secondary room with couches to watch the coffee beans be processed. 

The pastries are from the same supplier as Iron and Kin, so if Iron and Kin is sold out, you might find your baked delight here instead. The croissants are perfect, and once again, the super seed cookie is a magical blend of granola and sugary confection.

Their drink menu is approachable and features seasonal flavors handcrafted by very kind baristas. The “Salted Caramel Latte” is as you’d expect: very sweet and flavorful with a hint of coffee. The “Honey Cinnamon Latte” is a classic that filled me with much-needed warmth on a cold rainy day. I felt somewhat cheated by the seasonal “Lavender Vanilla,” which lacked a strong flavor, but it did redeem itself with its excellent coffee quality. 

I would highly recommend this spot for a solid drink and yummy treat! It is the perfect haven for a cold, rainy Saturday when you listen to Hozier and hurriedly scribble a paper due that very evening. 

In summation, we must thank the coffee gods for blessing us with such a prosperous cafe landscape; you will surely find a cafe to your liking within walking distance. Happy sipping!

Don't Miss