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Choosing a place to buy coffee in Santa Monica during the day may be the hardest choice to make. With a Starbucks or a Coffee Bean just a mile away, smaller coffee shops must have a unique trait that sets them apart from all the other competitors.
After 10 p.m., very few coffee shops are still open to accommodate to the thirsty public. These are a few coffee shops I found in Santa Monica that not only stay open at odd hours, but have a certain quality that isn’t represented in the corporate coffee houses.
Cacao Coffee House
11609 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Paintings on the wall for sale, statues of Tiki-men, and a flying saucer can all be seen when first walking into Santa Monica’s Cacao Coffee House.
First opened in 1990, Cacao was a place to buy coffee with no real personality of its own. In 1993, Cacao was sold to Bobby Green and Alastair Newbery. Green and Newbery combined their vision of what the coffee house should look like and came up with a sci-fi / Hawaiian theme.
In 2000, Cacao was sold to Jeremy Bell and is open during unusual hours (6 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily). Cacao is “a haven for those who can’t sleep or don’t want to,” according to their Web site. Customers are encouraged to bring their study groups, play boardgames (which they provide), or just hang out and chat. Free wi-fi is also available to anyone that would like to bring their laptops.
The employee working at 10:30 p.m., when I showed up, had total control of what music gets to be played in the small coffee shop. The musical choice started with Jazz and slowly crossed over to soundtracks of popular movies (Superman, E.T., and Indiana Jones).
“Jazz is what I’m into and Cacao offers that to me,” said customer Kyle Klose. “It keeps me coming a few nights a week. The other customers and I have been coming here for so long, Cacao’s just become like a second home to us.”
chocolate/espresso milkshake topped with whipped cream.
20 oz. = $4.65
3301 Pico Blvd.?Santa Monica, CA 90405
Unurban in Santa Monica is a coffee shop that welcomes the average person to come in and perform in their open mic night. ?Usually held on Fridays, I stumbled into Unurban Wednesday after 11 p.m. and discovered that they were holding an open mic event. Audience members don’t have to pay (donations are welcome), but to perform, it costs $3. Performers have ten minutes on stage to share songs, poems, or anything else they want. Open mic is held from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
At the beginning of the open mic, 24 slots are filled with the performer’s name and the order is then drawn from a hat at random.
“I thank this place for giving me the chance to share my work,” said performer Rico Martinez. “Any opportunity given to me to get my opinion out is appreciated. I feel as if the audience at Unurban truly respects all performers that go up on stage.”
Performers are encouraged to only share original work. Covers are not allowed.
The Novel Cafe
212 Pier Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Encouraging customers to walk in and stay for more than just their drink/meal, The Novel Cafe includes a miniature library for people to sit down and read.
While waiting for my Turkey Avocado Club ($8.95 with a choice of soup or salad), I ventured off into the cafe and walked into the cafe’s personal library full of bookshelves (at least 10-15). I have been told that you are welcome to “check out” a book if you bring one of your own. A sort of “leave a penny, take a penny” kind of thing.
“I don’t think anyone goes to libraries anymore,” said Susan Michaels. “I used to go when I was a kid. I remember being dropped off and spending the whole day there until my mother would come pick me up. I don’t go to the library anymore, but I come to The Novel every week. I sit down with my cup of coffee and pick up a new book.”
Mon-Fri 7 am-1 am;
Sat 8 am-1 am;
Sun 8 am-midnight