Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture elevates environment of 60-year-old building

Juliette Chung, of Juliette's Cafe & Coffee Culture, prepares handmade pastries.
Juliette Chung, of Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture in Newport Beach, prepares dough for her handmade pastries.
(Susan Hoffman)

Rounding the corner of Dover and Westcliff drives in Newport Beach, it’s hard not to notice the recent activity taking place in front of the 1964 commercial mid-century modern office building anchored by US Bank. Behind a newly planted privacy wall of greenery is a cluster of ivory umbrellas attached to tables where people are seated eating on the outdoor patio of Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture.

He handles the coffee, she handles the baked goods. Together Newport Beach married couple Juliette Chung and John Hughes opened shop last August inside the old bank building.

“The space had always been Union Bank for years, and never a food facility,” said Hughes, explaining the change-of-use issue that prompted the delay. “It took almost two years to open, not only with construction delays, but the parking study and conditional-use permit each took six months to get approved.”

Juliette Chung greets diners inside Juliette's Cafe & Coffee Culture.
Juliette Chung greets diners inside Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture, inside an old bank building in Newport Beach on Nov. 28.
(Susan Hoffman)

Inside the 3,500-square-foot cafe are high ceilings and a wall of windows that create a light and airy open environment.

“We wanted to create a nice atmosphere in the cafe different from other cafes in the area,” said Chung. “I love this neighborhood, and the city ambiance is great. I’m happy to be in this location.”

Chung immigrated to the United States in 1996 from Seoul, Korea. She became a self-taught baker when she took over a small bakery in Laguna Beach in 1997, where she perfected her pastry skills. In 2000 she and Hughes opened the Filling Station Cafe in Old Town Orange, which he designed and built as a ’20s style cafe and diner inside the original 1913 gas station.

Chung and Hughes sold the establishment in 2010 and took some time off to travel.

In 2012 they opened Juliette’s Kitchen and Bar, a casual fine-dining restaurant located on Bristol Street in Newport Beach until the pandemic shut it down in the fall of 2020.

John Hughes operates a Bellwether electric coffee roaster at Juliette's Cafe.
John Hughes, co-owner of Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture, operates a Bellwether electric coffee roaster to ensure peak freshness.
(Susan Hoffman)

Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch only.

“Everything is done in house, baked goods and coffee roasting,” said Hughes. “It’s a culmination of everything we’ve done in the past.”

Contributing to the elevated presentation of the third-wave coffee is the dedication to flavor quality. The state-of-the-art roaster, called Bellwether, creates a small-batch artisan-quality coffee on the world’s lowest-carbon roaster for the most sustainable coffee available, Hughes said. “It’s unique, no exhaust since it’s all electric, since most others are gas,” he explained. “Roasting all electric in small batches gives our coffee peak freshness and flavor while cutting the carbon footprint of roasting by 87%.”

Blending of the coffee culture and cafe culture elevates the ambiance, a number one priority for Chung. “It’s important to provide to the customer great food, drinks and service,” said Chung. “We bring the best quality we can.”

Head chef Daniel Hyatt serves a breakfast burrito, left, and egg croissant sandwich.
Head chef Daniel Hyatt of Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture in Newport Beach serves a breakfast burrito, left, and egg croissant sandwich.
(Susan Hoffman)

Head chef Daniel Hyatt has been with Chung and Hughes since 2012 at the Bristol Street location. “We pretty much do everything ourselves,” added Hyatt. “We’re trying to do a simple menu taking more care for a better quality product.”

First-time customers enjoying dining on the 1,200-square-foot patio, Sierra Tolis of Costa Mesa and Michelle Upton of Huntington Beach, couldn’t stop raving about the food and vowed to make it a point to be back. “It’s amazing, everything is super high quality and fresh, the flavors are outstanding,” said Upton. “The eggs Benedict are phenomenal.”

Tolis added, “And the almond croissant, I haven’t tried one as good as that.”

Sierra Tolis and Michelle Upton enjoy pastries and coffee on the outdoor patio at Juliette's Cafe.
Sierra Tolis, left, and Michelle Upton enjoy pastries and coffee on the outdoor patio at Juliette’s Cafe & Coffee Culture in Newport Beach.
(Susan Hoffman)