By Emily G. Peters
It’s early morning at Lavender and Honey Espresso Bar, but the place is already buzzing. A steady queue of Pasadena locals stream in for their caffeine fix, sipping on everything from cold brew espresso to Earl Grey lattes. Here, you’re just as likely to see a dressed-down family-on-the-go as you are to see a businessman heading to a meeting. It’s a snapshot of L&H’s kaleidoscopic clientele, all seeking, as co-owner Melanie Porter put it, a “home away from home.”
Over the last few years, this award-winning coffee bar and deli has found its place in the neighborhood routine. Its owners, husband-and-wife team Charlie and Melanie Porter, both enjoyed stints as young baristas before establishing successful careers in hospitality and accounting. Despite this, their dream was always to bring unimposing coffee culture to underserved areas—and in 2014, they found the perfect spot in northern Pasadena.
“We wanted our space to feel like an escape of sorts, light and refreshing,” said Melanie Porter, describing the ambiance at L&H as evocative of the French countryside while honoring its SoCal roots. “Our coffee shop culture makes coffee approachable, abandoning the pretentiousness that can sometimes sneak into the specialty coffee experience.”
Signature items like the Honeybee Latte and L&H toast (home-style bread with a thick layer of goat cheese, honey drizzle and delicate lavender buds) set the bar apart. But the menu also boasts familiar items executed at a high level—like the Parisian sandwich, a deceptively simple baguette loaded with ham off the bone, swiss cheese, and creamy butter. The made-to-order variety makes for a more complete cafe experience.
“We offer a full array of specialty coffee and tea beverages as well as a gourmet toast and sandwich bar—which, in many ways, is what we’ve become known for,” said Melanie. “Our menu also incorporates a hot chocolate bar and kids’ bar that the entire family can enjoy.”
Of especial importance to the Porters is their partnership with fellow local food service entrepreneurs. Their menu and market items incorporate products from LA-based Bread Lounge, Klatch Coffee and others, allowing L&H customers to patronize multiple small businesses at once. “We aim to support local artisans in addition to neighborhood interests,” said Melanie. “We consider ourselves lucky to be in a place with so many talented producers of coffee, chocolate, bread, jams, and other market items.”
As the coffee bar develops, so does the Porters’ plan for the future. Their signature cold brew, now available by the bottle, will soon be in local markets, and an online store with exclusive L&H merchandise will launch later in 2017. Never to be pigeon-holed, the pair plans to share new menu items with their L&H patrons—who, ultimately, are the lifeblood of the cafe. “The area around Washington and Hill is full of diversely-talented and truly amazing people, as committed to their community as we always wanted our shop to be,” said Melanie. “We’re all very excited to see where our little mom-and-pop shop takes us!”
Lavender and Honey Espresso Bar is located at 1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, CA, 91104. Contact the bar at (626) 529-5571 | firstname.lastname@example.org and explore the pretension-free fare at www.lavenderandhoneyespresso.com | Instagram @lh_espresso and @lh_coldbrew | Twitter @lh_espresso and @lh_coldbrew | Facebook @lavenderandhoneyespresso @LHColdBrew