Mad Science Skills at Portola Coffee Lab


Everyone loves meth. Wait no… Everyone loves Breaking Bad. It’s one of those shows that your friends are constantly bugging you to watch, reminding you that it’s the best show on television and how amazing and groundbreaking it is, except they’re actually right. Just like quality television, everyone has an opinion on quality coffee. Portola Coffee Lab is the Breaking Bad of coffee.

This analogy is fitting, because the first thing you’ll notice about the little island where your coffee is prepared is that is looks like a fancy meth lab. At Portola they don’t simply grind and brew coffee, they respect the chemistry of it. Using precise laboratory equipment, the “technicians” (all the baristas wear lab coats) are able to extract the true flavor of their house-roasted beans, without the burnt or acidic taste that normally accompanies it. There are three different brew methods: Hario, Trifecta, and Siphon. I have no idea what the difference is between the three, but any of the baristas will be happy go over the sometimes confusing and intimidating options, putting you at ease and tailoring a coffee experience that suits you best.

I strongly recommend you try their mocha. It’s perfect. With house-made chocolate ganache and carefully steamed milk, you’ll start planning your next trip immediately. I prefer espresso drinks, but if you enjoy chocolate, I would suggest the “Alchemistic” Melange coffee. It has a rich, full-bodied taste with a hint of chocolate in the aftertaste. Or, if you get there early enough, you can try the iced Kyoto drip. It takes 8 hours to brew over slow drip (seriously, drop by drop) and they only have about 20 cups available a day, but it’s smooth and savory with a natural sweetness you won’t find anywhere else. There’s also enough caffeine in it to kill a small horse or at least keep you working on that paper well into tomorrow.

Portola takes its tea and food just as seriously. All their teas are loose-leaf and handpicked, brewed with the same exactness as the coffee. Food is served until 3pm, with an selection of sandwiches and salads freshly made with high-quality ingredients. The breakfast sandwich is a standout, though the brioche bun can taste a bit too rich at times.

The location is a bit out of the way, but it’s worth the drive and time for the excellent service and superior cuppa. You might have to put up with some hipster bullshit (people, stores, art, etc.), but it’s worth it to the last drop.

Rating: Mile-High Club     First Class     Business     Coach

Check ‘em out at:

3313 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 284-0596