Beginning our daily routines with a delicious cup of joe is a fundamental element to living a good life in California's desert communities. For many, the java jolt revs up our mornings and then, motors it throughout the day. While the global green mermaid chain dominates, there are still many independent coffee shops which are just as essential to community-building as the neighborhood watering hole. We have selected our favorites:
KOFFI (North and South Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage)
Founders John Abner and John Strohm opened their first Koffi shop in North Palm Springs in 2002. Over the next 15 years, they slowly grew the desert-born java roaster and retailer to include additional sites in South Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and soon in redeveloped Kaptur Plaza, on Tahquitz Way. Along the way, also developed a kitchen where they crafted pastries and other baked goods for their customers.
Noted as being the Coachella Valley’s largest bean-to-beverage maker, Koffi sources nearly 20 café noir bean varieties for java Jonesers and its nine cities. “The Desert Sun” and “Palm Springs Life” have named the mud brewers, “Best of the Valley.”
ERNEST Coffee (Palm Springs)
While Koffi brings a well-worn native vibe to the coffee experience, brashier Ernest feels as if it’s ready to change the world. Created by a former travel photographer, Jaime Kowal, who fell “in love with the weather,” the store serves Stumptown beans and will make any urban millennial feel they were in their hometown of New York City, PDX, or Los Angeles. Kowal, who’s icon seems to be Moon Juice’s Chantal Acker Bacon, also owns a series of area hotels and a bar, under the moniker “The Desert Collective.” Ultimately, Ernest’s atmosphere makes you feel like being anywhere. That can be a good thing.
Vintage Coffee House (Indio)
On the other end of the Valley, squirreled away in a this-is-any-place-in-America, lies a real mom and pop. Currently, with one location, the coffeemakers source their grounds from Oregon. With mouth-filling and gut-busting jitter juice creations like a white mocha or lavender. They serve delicious pastries and well sourced from around local bakeries. Fast wi-fi. Hours are only from 6:00 am – 2:00 pm.
To quote Rhianna, IW (Indian Wells, natch) Coffee “shines bright like a diamond” in the small town of Indian Wells. Sequestered in a strip mall, with red tile shingles atop pristine, white buildings, and mature date palms swaying in the desert breeze with the San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop, the well-appointed java shop is worth a caffeinated look. Glass chandeliers, sugar-dusted croissants, and hi-back chairs dominate the atmosphere. Friendly and very nice “foam art” served on cappuccinos. Even better, they use Joshua Tree Coffee Roasters as their bean supplier – instead of making it hip, they made it more environmentally friendly.