In case you couldn’t tell or it wasn’t obvious I have become quite enthralled with coffee this year. Thanks to some coffee-loving family and friends, I think I’ve firmly joined Camp Caffeine–though only time will tell if I chose wisely 😀 The energy and time I spent debating clothes is now split with researching new coffee shops and subsequently being exposed to coffee culture and history, which is extremely exciting to me. Or is it the rapid heartbeat talking?

Fortunately, there is no shortage of coffee shops in Southern California, and most especially in the city of Long Beach, which is a short drive away from North Orange County. It is home to quite a few coffee shops and coffee roasters who have contributed greatly to the city having a specialty coffee scene. One of those newcomers is Steelhead Coffee in the historic neighborhood of California Heights in Long Beach. I found out about them through–you guessed it–social media, as suddenly my favorite coffee accounts started to post and tag the shop. I decided to go into Cal Heights to see and taste the place for myself.

On the corner of Wardlow Road and Orange Avenue.
First glance into the shop upon entry.

Steelhead Coffee owners John and Rany Aguirre, a husband-and-wife team, were interviewed by the Long Beach Post shortly after they opened, and are already garnering attention from foodie databases such as dineLA. The combination of a clean, bright interior, local coffee from Rose Park Roasters and bottled cold brew from Lord Windsor Roasters, and a rotating list of featured coffees from around the country make Steelhead Coffee a very welcome addition to the neighborhood, which has long needed a space for people to congregate and interact with others.

The most-photographed area of the shop even has its own hashtag: #thatsteelheadwall


A macchiato.

The fire-engine red of a custom-painted La Marzocco 3-group espresso machine, and the register area.

Behind the bar, and glassware from nonNeutral.

Steelhead typically uses Rose Park Roasters coffees but also rotates other coffees/coffee roasters. In this shot on the far left shelf are some coffees from Huckleberry Roasters from Denver, CO. On the right shelf are two boxes of bagged teas from Rishi Tea, Milwaukee, WI. The coffees may be featured in espresso-based drinks or as brewed coffee or pour-overs.

Baked goods display case.

The pastry and sweets collection is modest, but does feature local bakers such as The Caffeinated Kitchen (donuts) and also pies and quiches from Scratch Baked Goods.

Vegan donuts from The Caffeinated Kitchen.
Wall opposite the register displays the seasonal roasters available.

As mentioned before, Steelhead also carries fellow Long Beach shop Lord Windsor Roasters‘ bottled cold brew:

The tea offerings from Mad Monk change with new stock. A local leatherwork shop called Anvil Handcrafted has selected products (wallets, keychains, candles) available for purchase at Steelhead.

Additional seating toward the front of the cafe.

What I like the most about Steelhead Coffee are the people. The owners and baristas are friendly and approachable, and almost everyone that comes in picks up on that mood and responds accordingly. Then again, I find that on the whole people are a bit more open in Long Beach as opposed to Los Angeles proper or even Orange County–there’s enough grit for a city/urban feel in LB, but there is also a focus on community and connectedness that is easier to reach.

Where would Kristina be sans mocha?

For a new shop (less than 6 months) and such notice as it has already received, I have little doubt that Steelhead Coffee will soon be charging its way to the front of the Southern California coffee scene.

Steelhead Coffee (hours and contact info on Yelp)
1208 E Wardlow Rd
Long Beach, CA 90807


4 thoughts on “Steelhead Coffee / California Heights

  1. Interesting to hear your thoughts on these different coffee places! I’m not a coffee connoisseur but I wont’ say no to a mocha and one of those donuts haha.

    1. I’m not a coffee-savant yet. The vegan donuts are a lot less sweet than traditional cake donuts, but somehow they go really well when dipped in coffee.

    1. I don’t doubt it! The wall is really beautiful; people are drawn to it.

      I can’t believe SBux actually had to close! That’s quite a message to send to big corporations. Not that I think Starbucks is inherently bad, I do like their hot chocolate. I just think that there’s so many local options that are far more interesting to support!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s