If you’re looking for an Instagrammable bit of toast on the east side of Long Beach, you need to visit Coffee Parlor (a.k.a. COPA) on Clark Avenue and Spring Street. Founded by Joshua Knight, James Marland and Noah Schneider, this two-month-old coffee shop offers artisanal coffee from around the globe, plus a few breakfast options (including several close-up worthy fancy toasts) and a handful of lunch choices, such as the Market Salad.
That is, if you get there when the kitchen is still open. The website explains that while coffee is served from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. But Coffee Parlor’s physical, in-house menu clearly states, “Kitchen Hours: Depends on the Tide.” In other words, just come in the morning.
Nestled between a taco joint and a bundt-cake bakery in a small, suburban strip mall, Coffee Parlor operates as if it’s in an artists’ district in some hip urbania. Natural light floods the front dining area, and plants potted in paper bags dot every table. There’s a specifically placed Gandhi quote about the importance of customers by the register. It’s all very industrial-meets-midcentury-meets-arboretum.
Its coffee selection reads standard, with cappuccinos, flavored lattes, Americanos, café au laits and so on. But no matter your choice, what you get is excellent: smooth, dark and rich. Hunt around its social-media pages, and you’ll discover more interesting concoctions such as the COPA Quencher, hot espresso poured over sugary Mexican Coke.
The menu offered by executive chef/co-founder Schneider may be pretty limited or, let’s say, well-edited, but it’s a smart move for a new café. Plus, the plating and presentation are wonderfully intricate.
The PB&J starts with a slab of thick, chewy toast. A massive smear of crunchy peanut butter holds up fruity jam, fresh blueberries and banana slices, granola, mascarpone, and bright-yellow dots of bee pollen. The price of this overdressed, open-faced peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich is $9, and though my mascarpone was nowhere in sight (I got a dusting of cocoa instead?), it was a satisfying plate.
While avocado toast is a dish that’s been done, done, then done again, Coffee Parlor’s version was equally as satiating and beautifully arranged as the PB&J. That same chewy toast (the bread’s crust, though obviously fresh, was impervious to a butter knife, making this an “eat with your hands” situation) is topped with a heavy-handed scoop of smooth, mashed avocado, bright Meyer lemon, heirloom tomato pieces, chimichurri sauce, watermelon radishes, pickled beets, microgreens, and a dusting of queso fresco. From the abstract swipe of evergreen herb sauce to the artfully composed slices of root vegetables, it practically poses on the plate. This dish is also offered for $9, but you can add a poached egg for a small upcharge. Mine came out extra runny, but if you like your egg whites translucent, go for it.
On a cloudy Tuesday morning, most of the tables were full, and I watched at least three other patrons snap photos of their food. As one employee said of the dishes’ aesthetic, “They always go off in this kitchen, and I absolutely love it.”
Coffee Parlor, 2944 Clark Ave., Long Beach, (562) 354-6540; www.copalb.com.