When Matthew Torres founded Long Beach Coffee Club in 2016, he expected to meet one or two new friends who shared his love of coffee. Today, the Meetup.com group has grown to more than 350 members, hosts social and educational gatherings at local venues and even has a sweet line of merchandise for coffee fans.
The club, which is open to all coffee fans—regardless of whether they are casual hobbyists, expert baristas or roasters, or brand new to the world and possibilities of coffee—focuses on educating, building and promoting the coffee community and culture. It also recently released its annual list of top coffee shops in Long Beach, which grew from seven to 13 spots this year—indicative of Long Beach’s burgeoning coffee scene.
“Long Beach is becoming more populated with coffee, but I think it can be supported,” said Matthew Torres, founder of Long Beach Coffee Club. “My goal with this year’s list was to focus on how the coffee shop serves their community, and if they’re doing everything they can to provide good coffee that’s local.”
Steelhead Coffee in California Heights (1208 E. Wardlow Road), for example, made the list for being a neighborhood hangout where “most regulars know each other, and the baristas are super friendly,” according to Torres. Meanwhile, downtown caffeine hub Recreational Coffee (237 Long Beach Blvd.) hosts public cuppings on Sundays and experiments with innovative infused and cocktail-like coffee drinks. (Oh, and if you are curious about what a cupping is, you should probably join Long Beach Coffee Club.)
Newcomers to the list this year include Cuppa Cuppa, also located downtown (455 E. Ocean Blvd.), which Torres says has a great food menu in addition to serving Rose Park Roasters coffee. Polly’s Gourmet Coffee in Belmont Shore (4606 E. Second St.) also makes its first appearance. The shop has been around since the 1970s, standing its ground just steps away from the likes of Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
“There’s a lot we can learn from Polly’s,” Torres said. “It’s not just about the ratio of coffee they use. Polly’s has one of the most genuine communities. People go there, and they all know each other. They’re asking each other how their families are.”
To view the full list and find out more about the club, visit the Long Beach Coffee Club website. Additionally, you can join Torres and a select group of local vendors (including The Caffeinated Kitchen and Commodity) this weekend at CoffeeCon LA, a large consumer coffee festival and coffee university that also hosts events in some of the country’s top coffee cities: New York, Seattle and Chicago. The club is offering a discount to anyone who joins the Meetup.com group.
“It took me a long time to realize that I wanted to created a space and a community for coffee nerds or coffee enthusiasts—whatever you want to call them—to just have a conversation about coffee,” Torres said, adding that the club’s next event, an introduction to roasting coffee at home, sold out in two days. More events, however, are on the horizon. “I think we have something very special in Long Beach, coffee-wise and community-wise. I’ve been to a lot of coffee cities, and we have some of the best baristas, some of the nicest people who will invite you into their whole world, and great people in the Long Beach Coffee Club.”