Coffee Tsunami Floods Through the Town

Caffe Luxxe’s “Bake & Gather”
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

Last Saturday morning, curious Palisadians lined up to sample the wares of the latest arrival in town, a pop-up store by Caffe Luxxe—handing out samples of cake and coffee to come.

And the conclusion was enthusiastic and unanimous: yes, please.

A rough tally at Noah’s Bagels, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Café Vida, the supermarket and gas station carafes, and Starbucks, which alone, according to an ex-barista, sells between 400 and 800 cups per day, suggests we purchase around 3,000 cups per day in The Village alone.

But, yes, we want more caffeine.

While the battle to sell margaritas in this once-dry town has been fraught with social tensions, the explosion of coffee sales, regarded with equal suspicion by some churches and organizations, has surged largely unremarked.

Bringing the community up to date at the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, March 22, Michael Gazzano, vice president of development at Caruso, highlighted General Porpoise, which will offer “coffees of the month.”

Before the Seattle-based “yummy doughnut” vendor lands in September, Caffe Luxxe and Estate Coffee are expected to open their doors.

And a Scottish expatriate in The Highlands is considering a mobile coffee wagon that will offer whisky-flavored beans imported from his homeland.

The new arrivals alone would have overwhelmed the humble choices that Arnie Wishnick of the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce remembered from 25 years ago. Then, you just had Art Poole’s, Dante’s, Mort’s Deli (of course) and Pacific Palisades Pharmacy.

And some pre-baristas would refuse to serve coffee to minors.

There are local refuseniks who opt out of the 100-million-cup-per-year business.

Wishnick and LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore seem quite bubbly without the bean. They say they never got the taste.

The 2015 guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggested most people can drink up to five cups per day without a problem, although that is without adding cream or, worse, sugar—the more modern enemy.

At the Palisades Drive Starbucks, lattes are number one. According to Zagat, tastes diverge between men, who opt for drip (30 percent) and espressos (14 percent), and women who prefer a latte (22 percent), drip (19 percent) or a cappuccino (12 percent).

People over 50 drink more than consumers in their 30s, yet it is the significantly younger demographic who are first in line for the limited-edition, brightly colored sugary concoctions compared by critics to habit-forming “alcopops.”

They alone could keep the town’s caffeine boom fizzing.