I look forward to the early morning. Rise and shine when the desert is coolest, the traffic on Highway 111 hasn’t quite peaked, and it’s perfectly acceptable to cruise into a coffee shop sporting a messy bun and sweats with dried toothpaste on the front. No judging before 8 a.m., folks.
The aroma of just-ground, dark-roasted coffee beans is right up there with new-car scent, chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, and freshly cut grass. Here are the best places in the Coachella Valley to get your fix.
Customs Coffee at the Arrive Hotel, Palm Springs
The baristas are not only delightfully friendly but are #goals when it comes to how gracefully they work that monster of a coffee machine. The Intelligentsia coffee is made from single-origin beans of the highest quality, with unique flavor profiles. It’s strong yet smooth and comforting.
A vacation without leaving the desert while enjoying a lovely cup of Cortado.
Ernest Coffee, Palm Springs
This place is geared for the writer’s life: lightning-speed wifi, outlets aplenty, and bold coffee from Stumptown Roasters to keep you alert for those tight deadlines. There are daily baked pastries and all types of dairy-free milk alternatives. A bit of history: Ernest Coffee is named for Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, the birth name of Don the Beachcomber, whose tiki restaurant stood in this exact location back in the ’50s.
Hot Butter Yum is made with Zaya rum, butter vanilla cinnamon syrup, espresso and steamed half and half.
And guess what? You can get booze here too, including a happy hour with generous $3 beers and half-price wine. The time between coffee and cocktails just got a lot more bearable.
What to order: I love the Hot Butter Yum, made with Zaya rum, butter vanilla cinnamon syrup, espresso, and steamed half-and-half, served undercover in a porcelain latte cup. It’s like coffee but elevated — perfect for those mornings when you just need a little “extra.”
4 Paws Coffee's latte menu is as clever and creative as their latte art. Loved my paw print caramel latte.
4 Paws Coffee Co., Palm Springs
The newest coffee house on the block is for the dogs. 4 Paw Coffee Co. is a spacious hangout for you and your best friend (the furry one). You can order a tasty latte for yourself and a Pup Cup (whipped cream with a dog biscuit) for your loyal sidekick. (Amethyst is the resident latte art designer, and she can turn your boring foam into a masterpiece.) In addition to a large selection of hot, iced, and frozen coffee and tea drinks, there are bagels, pastries, and sandwiches. Bring your human besties and sip on piña colada smoothies while playing a mad game of Jenga. Bonus points for the vintage phone booth and the large Palm Springs mural, both begging for an Instagram photo.
What to order: Lattes. I love the salted caramel with the paw-print foam art.
Gré Coffeehouse & Art Gallery, Palm Springs
This is a midcentury-inspired beatnik coffee lounge that serves fantastic brews and original concoctions. It’s open late nights Wednesday through Friday, hosting jam sessions, book clubs, and art exhibits. Gré herself features her stunning photography on the walls; other artists are encouraged to submit their work for a chance to be displayed.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY GRE´COFFEEHOUSE
It's hip to be caffeinated.
The space is small but inviting and full of personal treasures like vintage typewriters, retro board games, and books. Sounds from vinyl records and mix tapes fill the air. And each morning during happy hour, you can score $2 house coffees and $3 lattes and cappuccinos.
What to order: The Upside Down Latte, which comes iced in a mason jar. Be ready to lick foam off the top before it spills over like an active volcano.
Starbucks Reserve Bar, Palm Springs
The Reserve Bar at Starbucks in downtown Palm Springs is like a coffee shop on steroids. Rare, small-lot coffee is the signature, along with a complete immersive brewing experience. The use of “master” techniques gives the coffee a satisfying taste that will have you asking to turn that Tall into a Venti.
Ok, ok, it’s Starbucks, but it’s the Reserve Bar and they made my Dirty Chai like a mad scientist.
Koffi, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage
You’ll find Koffi’s signature organic coffee at all four of its desert locations, as well as several restaurants. The coffee bar serves up fresh grab’n’go breakfast and lunch items like sandwiches, bagels, pastries, and parfaits. If you’re not in the java mood, Koffi also serves fruity iced teas and decadent smoothies like strawberry-mango topped with whipped cream.
What to order: Black coffee, straight up.
I love to order just a good ol' black cup of coffee so I can take in all the natural aromas and flavors of those amazing beans.
IW Coffee, Indian Wells
Just off Highway 111 in Indian Wells, this place is playing old-school jams and stealing my heart with its giant cookies, fancy chandeliers, and the hot-pink desert sunsets spilling through its large windows. IW roasts Joshua Tree Coffee Co. organic beans and has talented latte artists making themed creations for such occasions as Thanksgiving, the BNP Paribas Open, and of course, Star Wars Day.
Blend it Like it’s Hot: the honey cinnamon blended latte is perfect for those hot desert days.
IW has a generous food menu as well, baking its own pastries daily and serving up breakfast bagels, granola and fruit, sandwiches, and feta salads. I love the comfy, oversized seating.
What to order: The honey cinnamon blended latte. It’s essentially a decadent caffeinated dessert.
The Vintage Coffee House, Indio
This is one of the few places in the valley that serves Bulletproof coffee, a specialized brew that its makers claim boosts energy and improves brain function. The long dining space with plenty of seating and a lush outdoor patio make it easy to find a spot to enjoy your coffee and get lost on Instagram.
I love to relax with a soothing cup of Lavender Mocha at this local coffee shop just blocks from the Empire Polo Club.
There’s a wide variety of latte flavors, including almond roca, berry white mocha, and malted hot mocha, served in glass coffee cups. They also have cold brews and boba iced tea.
What to order: The lavender mocha latte. Made with premium lavender syrup, this soothing, warm, comforting drink will give you all the feels.