Lattes and Luaus

A hip coffee and Tiki bar in the Uptown Design District brings a taste of Portland and Polynesia to Palm Springs

Ashley Breeding Restaurants 0 Comments


Hugging the corner of Via Lola and Palm Canyon Drive, the historic Beachcomber building — easily identified by orange metal Tiki torches projecting from the roof — has been a landmark of Palm Springs since its heyday in the 1950s, when Don the Beachcomber operated his iconic restaurant here.

The eroding structure sat vacant for many years, until two local entrepreneurs envisioned a contemporary spin on this classic establishment.

“We wanted to create a vibrant, inspired space for the community to come together and have a great time,” says co-owner Jaime Kowal, who partnered with designer Chris Pardo, to open Ernest Coffee Co. and Bootlegger Tiki.

The name pays homage to the original owner and founding father of Tiki culture in the United States, whose birth name was Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt. 

The building is divided into two separate spaces designed by Pardo. In front, Ernest Coffee Co. exudes a warm, modern atmosphere with reclaimed wood counters sculpted around the Beachcomber’s concrete bones.

Cozy leather booths and an art installation featuring old books juxtapose tables with wrought iron details and bare metal chairs to lend a hip aesthetic. A wooden bar running the perimeter of the shop is fitted for computer and Wi-Fi use. The dog-friendly outdoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy a bit of sunshine (and stunning mountain views) with your cup of Ernest.

The shop exclusively brews Stumptown coffee (based in Portland, Oregon), because “it’s the best-tasting coffee there is,” Kowal says. “We invited several of our friends to taste coffee from roasters around the country; the rich, full flavor of Stumptown was the favorite, hands down, and our customers love it.”

The eco- and health-minded shop also offers specialty coffees with organic soy and almond milk, as well as fresh pastries, including vegan and gluten-free options.

At the peak of the afternoon, the coffee bar transitions to a wine bar, when Bootlegger Tiki opens its doors for happy hour. Sharing the outdoor patio with the coffee shop, the traditional Tiki bar, featuring hand-carved totems at the entryway, evokes authentic kitschy charm.

Walls covered in velvet Chinese-print wallpaper and grass cloth surround bamboo tables beneath hanging blowfish chandeliers lit with red bulbs. Pineapples, coconuts, and historic photos and postcards displayed under polyurethane-topped counters add to the ambiance, pulling you not only into Tiki culture but also that of the distant past.

In addition to a carefully curated selection of wines in the coffee shop, the bar features such traditional craft Tiki cocktails as the Rum Runner and Navy Grog.;

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