Those of us who love both books and coffee have gotten used to the corporatization of both, often in the same place — as in the case of Barnes & Noble outlets and Starbucks shops. But Pasadena continues to buck that trend. Vroman's Bookstore, which was founded in 1894 and is still independently owned, has long had a coffee shop in the front of its flagship store. After 20 years, the previous tennant left, and will be replaced in early January by the Next Chapter, a new coffeehouse from Pasadena's Jones Coffee Roasters.
Founded in Pasadena in the mid-'90s by Mireya Asturias Jones and her sons, Jones Coffee Roasters is based down the street from Vroman's in a big roastery and adjacent coffeehouse on South Raymond Avenue. The coffee for the new shop will be roasted there, using beans sourced from around the world, but also from the family's coffee farm in Guatemala, Finca Dos Marias, where Mireya Asturias Jones grew up.
The Next Chapter will have a 3-group La Marzocco mechanical paddle espresso machine, plus Wilbur Curtis drip coffee brewers and pour-overs. There will be pastries from downtown's Homeboy Industry and, eventually, soup.
"The idea is to let the community build its own coffee house," said Chuck Jones over a cup of coffee at the roastery. Jones says he's going to keep it simple, with a seating area inside plus eventually a more "loungey" area outside, near the Vroman's newsstand along Colorado Boulevard. No television, but there is wi-fi from the bookstore. The theme, says Jones, will be adventure.
What that means, in this case, is an antique Indian motorcycle with a freezer built into its sidecar for ice cream. It also, if Jones can figure out the logistics, may mean a sailboat. The idea for that is "to pack it with desert island books." In other words, Jones means to have fun with this shop — the kind of fun that Vroman's patrons have long found in the bookstore itself.
Jones says they've been working on the project since early this year. "It seemed like kind of a natural," Jones says about partnering with the old Pasadena institution. The new coffee shop will also have its own built-in fan base, namely the bookstore's 250 employees.
The Next Chapter is still under construction, but Jones hopes to be open by Jan. 11, after the Rose Parade crowds have gone. In the meantime, Jones will be keeping busy, as the business is the coffee sponsor for this year's Rose Parade — which means that he and his crew will be making 19,200 cups of coffee for the volunteers and others working the parade this Friday. It's a good time to be highly caffeinated.
The Next Chapter, at Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.
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