The 10 Best Coffee Shops In Orange County, Ca, Top 10 Orange County Coffee Shops

Critic Brad A. Johnson says locally roasted coffee has jumped from trend to full-blown revolution. After sampling 39 different coffees from OC-based roasters, he picks his 10 favorites.

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A cup of “Para Ela” Fazenda Serrinha coffee from Brazil, roasted by Common Room Roasters in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Once you’ve smelled it, you’re hooked. 

There’s simply nothing comparable to the wafting aroma of coffee beans roasting, except maybe the smell of freshly ground coffee brewing. What’s more, coffee always tastes better when it’s brewed shortly after it’s been roasted. This is not up for debate. 

Nor is this: There are two types of people in the world, people who live for coffee and the weirdos who don’t. That first group includes a growing subset of serious fanatics (often bearded and tattooed but sometimes surprisingly buttoned-up) who roast their own beans. That fanatic subset produces a mind-boggling array of freshly roasted coffee for sale in Orange County. 


Brewing a cup of “Para Ela” Fazenda Serrinha coffee from Brazil, roasted by Common Room Roasters in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)


A cup of Morning Would coffee from Old Town Roasting in Santa Ana (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Cappuccino made with Anaheim Roasting Company’s dark roast beans (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Italian-style caffe lungo made with Wilson Coffee Roasting’s organic Mexican beans (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)


A cup of “Para Ela” Fazenda Serrinha coffee from Brazil, roasted by Common Room Roasters in Newport Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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There are dozens of coffee roasters in OC. Many are well-known enterprises operating out of warehouses that double as coffee shops while others exist quietly under the radar, roasting beans out of garages or even home kitchens. Fortunately, they all sell their beans online. 

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I whittled down the options and ordered 39 different beans or blends from 18 different roasters, large and tiny. I ground the beans to order and brewed a pour-over exactly the same way (Chemex) with every variety shortly after it arrived on my doorstep. Based on my first impressions of those cups, I then brewed espressos or lungos (I own one of those fancy espresso machines) and crafted dozens of macchiatos, cappuccinos and whatnot. I’ve been doing this nonstop for weeks. I no longer sleep.

Fully caffeinated, I can’t stop telling myself there’s still more research to do, more beans that need sampling, but I’m calling it. These are my 10 favorite local roasters:

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Dark Side of the MoonGoat, a dark roast coffee bean from MoonGoat Coffee Roasters in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

1. MoonGoat Coffee Roasters, Costa Mesa

MoonGoat opened in 2019 on Costa Mesa’s Westside, and they’ve since opened a second location in Garden Grove. The coffee from here that speaks to me most is one they call Dark Side of the MoonGoat. It’s a medium-dark roast of beans from Costa Rica, Brazil and Ethiopia. This is their signature espresso blend, and indeed it makes an extraordinary espresso or macchiato with velvety crema. But it also makes an incredible cup of pour-over coffee (and presumably standard drip). It’s a full-bodied brew with notes of chocolate, dark caramel and toast. When this stuff is brewing, the aroma infiltrates the entire house. The neighbors can probably smell it, too. 

Alternatively, MoonGoat’s 18th Street blend is not quite as dark but just as incredible. The 18th Street blend is what’s served at Eat Chow, a restaurant with locations in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.

1985 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-612-2875,


Mexican organic coffee from Wilson Coffee Roasting (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

2. Wilson Coffee Roasting, Costa Mesa

Wilson is one of OC’s oldest roasters, having originated at Alta Coffee in Newport Beach in the ‘80s. The roasting facility eventually moved from Balboa Peninsula to Costa Mesa’s Westside. Their Mexican Organic Cadena Tres from Chiapas is phenomenal. They roast it fairly dark, but for such a heavy roast this coffee comes off surprisingly smooth. It’s got a sweet, pleasant fragrance and a creamy, chocolaty charisma. Whether brewing a standard drip, caffe lungo or cappuccino, I couldn’t screw this one up. 

Alternatively their 31st Street blend, a much lighter roast and the signature brew at Alta, easily ranks among the finest coffees in OC. Fun fact: Other restaurants serving Wilson coffee include Taco María and Lola Gaspar.

1651 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-574-9444,


Brazilian coffee beans from Common Room Roasters in Costa Mesa (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

3. Common Room Roasters, Newport Beach

Common Room opened several years ago on the industrial perimeter of Newport Beach near Costa Mesa, not far from where Wilson and MoonGoat are located. My favorite bean from here is the “Para Ela” Fazenda Serrinha from Brazil. (The “para ela” in the name is a nod to the fact that these beens are picked exclusively by women.) This is a medium roast that results in a rich, clean cup of coffee, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Meanwhile, the Brunswick Blend from here makes a deliciously potent espresso that holds its own in a latte or flat white.

882 Production Place, Newport Beach, 949-244-1449,


Brazilian coffee beans from Able Coffee Roasters in Huntington Beach (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

4. Able Coffee Roasters, Huntington Beach

Although Able didn’t open its first retail shop until December (near Bella Terra), they’re not exactly new. They’ve been selling their freshly-roasted beans online for a couple of years. The recently added a Brazilian fair-trade organic bean that, similar to the Fazenda Serrinha from Common Room, is picked entirely by women. And while they describe this roast as medium, I’d categorize it as dark. The beans are almost black, with an even extraction of oil slicking the surface like a classic espresso roast. However, when brewed it doesn’t come across as dark as one might expect, which might be why they decided to call it medium. It’s full-bodied, a little nutty and toasty, but also surprisingly smooth — a very gratifying cup of coffee. 

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On the lighter side, their Best of OC blend reminds me of the best old-fashioned, roadside American diner, the kind of coffee you’ll want to fill an entire thermos with.

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7451 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach,


Capistrano blend coffee beans from Golden State Coffee Roasters in Placentia (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

5. Golden State Coffee Roasters, Placentia

Golden State started roasting coffee in 2012 but didn’t open their retail coffee shop in downtown Placentia until 2019. The roast I’m obsessed with from here is the Capistrano blend. This is a medium-dark choice with beans that range from medium-brown to almost black. When brewed in an espresso machine, these beans produce a truly gorgeous crema. The aroma is intense, like walking into a smoky old coffee bar in Rome. The flavor is smoothly pungent and slightly chocolatey. While this blend makes a great cup of drip coffee, it’s even better as an espresso or macchiato, and it’s smooth enough to forgo any sort of milk.

109 W. Santa Fe Ave., Placentia, 714-646-9652,


Morning Would coffee beans from Old Town Roasting in Santa Ana (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

6. Old Town Roasting, Santa Ana

Another old timer in the local coffee scene, Old Town began roasting in 2011. All their coffees are good but the best is something called Morning Would, a blend of beans from Indonesia and Central America. There’s a distinct variation in the size of seeds in this bag, but they are uniformly roasted to a creamy shade of medium brown with just a hint of oil beginning to pop. It brews darker than you might expect. The aroma quickly fills the house and makes a great alarm clock for anyone not already awake when the hot water hits the beans. It’s the kind of coffee that’ll make you want bacon. It’s really good stuff. 

This is the roaster that made the signature blend for Mead’s Green Door Cafe, a vegetarian coffeehouse in Orange that recently closed because of the pandemic. But you can still buy that excellent blend online from Old Town.

3011 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 866-432-6333,


Composition House Blend coffee beans from Chapman Crafted Coffee in Orange (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

7. Chapman Crafted Coffee, Orange 

Chapman Crafted might best known as a craft beer company. But there’s another side of this brand that makes very good coffee. Their Composition House Blend is especially good. If you drink a lot of coffee, you will have noticed a trend in recent years toward lightly roasted (ahem, some might say under-roasted) Ethiopian beans, which produce a lighter, more floral, fruity cup of coffee that all the young hipsters adore. I usually don’t love that sort of coffee. It strikes me as downright sour and lemony. But never mind that. This particular Ethiopian light roast is the exception to that style. It is genuinely excellent: light and floral, yes, but it still tastes like coffee, with a lingering toffee finish. It also tastes best with milk.

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123 N. Cypress St., Orange, 844-855-2337,


Dark roast coffee beans from Anaheim Roasting Company, a micro roaster with online sales from Anaheim (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

8. Anaheim Roasting Co., Anaheim

This micro roaster in Anaheim started selling beans mid-pandemic in 2020. They don’t yet have a brick and mortar shop, but it looks like they’ve been making the rounds at some of the local farmers markets. I bought a sample of everything they roast, and the one that stands out above all the others is their medium-roast El Salvador. The beans are roasted until they barely begin to release little flecks of oil. The fragrance of the beans is calming, like brown sugar and spice. This coffee begs to fill a large pot, to be shared and passed around. 

Meanwhile, if you want an espresso, their dark roast is a highly refined monster. If you’ve got a Vespa, you could probably pour this coffee into the gas tank, and the engine would purr for days.

Online only:


Colombia coffee beans from Golden Lantern Coffee Roasters, an online micro roaster in South OC (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

9. Golden Lantern Coffee Roasters, South OC

This small-batch roaster launched about a year ago in a home garage somewhere in South OC and sells primarily online but occasionally pops up at coffee bars and cafes around Laguna Niguel and Dana Point. Their coffees are uniformly delicious, but the best might be the medium-roast Colombia, which produces a light, bright pour-over with a lingering finish that reminds me of those Valentine’s Day chocolate truffles filled with strawberry cream.

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Guatemalan coffee beans from Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, one of Orange County’s biggest coffee roasters. (Photo by Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register/SCNG)

10. Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, Orange

Bodhi Leaf is one of the most prolific local roasters in OC. They operate seven coffee shops here. They are also one of the area’s largest sources for green (unroasted) beans from all over the world — and likely provide beans to some of the other roasters on this list. They roast more than a dozen different styles, with an apparent affinity toward lighter and medium profiles. Of the several coffees I sampled from here, the one that intrigues me the most is the Guatemala Quetzal. This is one of those new-style coffees that skews toward fruitiness but it avoids any of that unpleasant sourness. It’s almost like black tea, but in a good way (no offense to tea drinkers). It works beautifully in a pour-over, but it’s even better as iced coffee.

428 W. Katella Ave., Orange, 657-391-9002,


Macchiato made with Dark Side of the MoonGoat coffee beans from MoonGoat Coffee Roasters in Costa Mesa

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