Summer is fast approaching, meaning days at the beach, shopping, barbecues and heat. With such busy days, most people are looking for an on-the-go breakfast that is not only tasty and energizing, but Instagram-worthy. Many coffee shops are popping up right and left in Ventura, making them the perfect summer go-to. Each coffee shop is unique in flavor, food and design, and each are more than noteworthy. If you want a cool place to grab a drink or bite to eat, definitely try any (or all) of these shops.
Prospect Coffee Roasters
Coffee shops can be similar to an art museum. There are so many unique things you can do with a shot of espresso, a splash of milk or a brew of tea. Every concoction is put on display for your viewing entertainment, making it not only a delicious beverage, but a true experience. Many Starbucks addicts have no idea what this “art form” of coffee is, but Prospect Coffee Roasters shows not only the beautiful tastes of coffee, but the equally stunning presentation within every sip.
Prospect Coffee Roasters held its grand opening on April 15, and the shop was constantly buzzing with local coffee fanatics. The “coffee bar,” as they call it, definitely has a modern, hipster vibe. The warm, clean and cozy atmosphere mixed with the fast and friendly service provides the classic coffee shop feel with a modern flair that’s hard to find elsewhere.
When looking through the menu, there were several beverages (as well as food items) to choose from. Along with the classic cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, there were lots of “specialty drinks” including the “Ventucky,” consisting of espresso, steamed milk and bourbon honey syrup. There were also specialty tea concoctions, including a mixture of Rooibos tea, steamed milk and vanilla syrup known as “The Bear Hug.”
After a quick glance at the menu, I decided to order what the cashier recommended: the “Solimar” and the “Godzilla.” The “Solimar,” served in a small glass, was filled with espresso, coconut cream, malt syrup and sea salt. The “Godzilla,” being a tea drink, was served in a larger glass filled with matcha tea, milk and their own “Prospect syrup.”
If you are a matcha fan, your life may forever be changed with the “Godzilla.” The “Prospect syrup” added a certain sweetness to the classic matcha flavor that made it oddly addicting. However, between the two drinks, the “Solimar” was truly unlike anything I had ever experienced from a coffee before. The espresso was strong, and the coconut cream (oddly enough) didn’t actually add coconut flavor, but an added touch of lightness. When combined with the unique sweetness of the malt syrup and the contradicting zing of saltiness, it satisfied every aspect of your tastebuds.
Though prices varied, it is worth every penny for whatever beverage you choose to purchase.
Even though after a few more visits my go-to drink is a simple iced oat-milk latte, Prospect serves up both the classics and crazies unlike anyone else.
Stoked Coffee Co. and Acai Bowls
Stoked Coffee is also extremely new, just having their grand opening weekend June 2. Stoked is a true Ventura-vibe shop; highlighting happiness, peace and “shakas,” it’s the perfect place to grab healthy food or a classic coffee shop beverage and head out to the beach.
Located on Main Street in downtown Ventura, it’s a perfect walk from the shop to the beach. Their simple exterior contrasts nicely with the neat yet sharp interior, featuring shiny espresso machines, a case full of tempting baked goods, a large and even more tempting menu and a brightly lit sign displaying their name.
Stoked’s menu not only features the classic coffee and tea, but a wide variety of Instagram-trendy foods. There’s a variety of acai bowls, which are always presented in a camera-worthy style, along with fresh and tempting avocado toast. Stoked also features other toasts, including the comforting classic of nut butter and fruit.
The service was completely friendly, embodying the positive sides of what Ventura has to offer. Though the acai bowls and toasts may take some time to create, Stoked advertises that they are “not fast food,” and consistently prove that each item they have to offer is worth the wait. Though fast service is beneficial at times, it is also nice to have the laid back and relaxed feeling when dining, especially with summer approaching.
Though the coffee was obviously tasty, the acai bowls are what really stood out to me. I ordered their classic bowl: a blend of strawberries, bananas and acai, topped with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, coconut, chia seeds, heaps of granola and a delicate drizzle of honey. The cold and smooth acai is nice on the tongue, and the abundance of fruit on top makes it a true feel-good meal. The granola adds the perfect crunch, making the hugely portioned bowls last a long time in your stomach.
Stoked, much like Prospect, ranges in prices for their food and beverages, but is also worth the money. The bowls provide the perfect meal to pack up and head to the beach with, and can easily be shared or taken home as a snack for a later date. Between the peaceful vibes, satisfying drinks and tasty food, Stoked is a great summer go-to for any chill Ventura day.
Many local coffee shops, if not making their own roast, like to get a tasty blend of beans from other local roasters. Beacon Coffee’s blend is served at several coffee shops, so when Beacon Coffee decided to open a storefront of their own, people were excited. Several unique, completely homemade flavors make each beverage taste unlike the rest. Beacon consistently serves quality you can taste, from their brews to their food.
Beacon Coffee has both Ventura and Ojai locations, the Ventura shop being located on Olivas Park Drive. Though a bit more on the outskirts of town, it’s well worth the extra drive. The interior display is modern yet cozy; featuring cushioned pillows on a couch-like seating arrangement, along with a clean chalkboard menu and lively plants scattered throughout. Upon entering you are immediately greeted by a friendly face or two, ready to meet all your coffee conditions.
Along with a variety of shiny coffee-making machines just behind the counter, Beacon has their own roast of coffee on tap, much like what you would see at a bar. Their menu features a coffee of the day, cold brews, both hot and iced teas, and your classic espresso drinks. Additional unique flavors can be added to any drink, and specially advertised are both their Lavender and Guajillo Chili mochas, as well as a housemade vanilla syrup. Gluten free and vegan baked goods, including scones, banana breads and cookies, are all on display as well.
Though small and cozy, Beacon is a place many can come to gather and chat, work on projects and assignments, or just sit and sip in peace. The service was fast and friendly, each beverage being made completely fresh and to order. The prices are the same as any typical coffee shop, making them well worth every cent.
Because it was a hot day, I decided to try their iced pomegranate green tea. It served the purpose of being a tasty midday pick-me-up perfectly, providing a sweet yet tart flavor with the familiar hint of green tea. Along with the tea, I tried a classic mocha and a plain ol’ black coffee. Beacon truly has one of the best roasts I’ve ever tasted; they magically make the coffee not bitter, but flavorful in all the right ways. The mocha adds the perfect sweet chocolate accent along with a beautiful creaminess of whole milk, and the perfectly designed foam to garnish makes it my personal favorite of the drinks.
So whether you’re looking for a hipster concoction in a cool vibed area, an Instagrammable acai bowl in an embodiment of our beachy side of town or a cozy quiet area that does the classics with a twist like no other, there is a perfect cup of coffee waiting to be tasted by you. Go taste the flavors that summer has to offer.