Artisan coffee shops in Glendale, a suburb in Los Angeles County, aren’t super easy to come by. But in late 2016, a new shop called Highlight Coffee popped open near the city’s downtown area on the corner of Glendale and Broadway.
It’s a welcome addition to the city. Now, residents and people who work there don’t need to always opt for chains – not that there’s anything wrong with chains, of course, but it’s always nice to have some variety to choose from – nor do they need to drive to surrounding neighborhoods (including Eagle Rock and Atwater Village) to find a unique place to enjoy tea and coffee.
I first visited Highlight Coffee about 6 weeks after it opened. Since then, I’ve been there probably over a dozen times. I’m always excited about supporting local businesses and I’d love to see this one stay open for many, many years.
Probably the most noticeable feature of Highlight Coffee is that it is very well-lit. The bulk of the space is surrounded by large glass panels so there’s always a generous amount of light that pours in. It has a bright, inviting minimalist theme that makes it an appealing place to do some work. White is the predominant color inside, and wooden chairs and tables line the walls for customers to sit at.
One thing to watch out for is that during the afternoon, the side of the shop parallel to Broadway can get really bright because the sun sets in that direction. Because of that, the side parallel to Glendale Avenue can get full, so it’s good to take note of that if you’re going to visit during the afternoon.
It’s impossible not to notice the quality of the beverages at Highlight Coffee. Teas are brewed to perfection and coffees are rich in flavor. The owner, Frank, said that he wouldn’t offer anything on the menu if he weren’t proud of it, and it really shows.
On the menu, one thing I appreciate is how simple it is, so you won’t need to spend too much time deciding on what to get.
If you’re looking for recommendations on what to try, it’ll really depend on your preference. (That’s an answer I got when I asked the baristas working there, but it’s a good answer 😛 ) Some of the ones I really liked were the butterscotch latte, chai tea, and orange vanilla latte. If you’re a tea person, you’ll be happy to know that their teas are brewed with care (they don’t just leave the tea bag/tea leaves in hot water and hand it to you) and served in glass containers that you can pour into a glass cup.
While the focus of this local coffee shop in Glendale is on drinks, it also offers a tasty grilled cheese sandwich and some soup if you need a quick bite to eat. The owner said they only bring in one loaf of bread per day, and after that’s gone, they don’t serve any more grilled cheese sandwiches. Highlight Coffee has also partnered with a local resident who sells cookies and other sweets. Croissants and danishes are other food items you’ll find at this local coffee shop in Glendale.
Customer service at Highlight Coffee is authentic, accommodating and friendly. It’s one aspect of the shop that stood out to me the most. They initiate and carry conversations with customers, and they seem to enjoy where they work and what they do.
The owner says he places high importance on customer service, and you can tell he really values his employees: “If my staff weren’t here I’d pretty much be dead. They’re all able to run this shop without me, they know what my standards are,” he said.
Meet the owner, Frank!
Frank was nice enough to talk to me in between preparing drinks for customers one weekday morning to tell me all about how Highlight Coffee came into existence.
Here are some quick facts about him:
- He has 3 years of experience with specialty coffee
- The first time he tried coffee was about 5 ½ to 6 years ago
- He has previously worked at Demitasse and Dinosaur Coffee
- Before going into specialty coffee, he was on track to becoming a firefighter. He has also worked in the retail business.
- The hospitality part of the service industry is what he said was probably the biggest driving force for his decision to go into the coffee business
This local coffee shop in Glendale is located on the corner of a busy street, near City Hall and the Glendale Civic Center. The space used to be closed for a period of time, and Frank admitted that when he first saw it, it looked pretty terrible. But, he said he could totally envision it as a coffee shop, and he says he likes the neighborhood.
No bathroom, no dedicated parking, but check it out anyway!
As much as I love Highlight Coffee, the two downsides are that there is no bathroom and no dedicated parking. If you’re planning on spending hours there, it can be kind of a hassle to have to get up and walk over to Chipotle next door (it’s probably about a 1 minute walk on the same block) when you need to take care of that business. On the plus side, the baristas and even Frank will be nice enough to keep an eye on your stuff while you run outside to Chipotle.
If you’re coming to Highlight Coffee, be prepared to think outside the box because there’s no dedicated parking. However, there’s paid street parking along Glendale Avenue that’s a good option. Nearby residential streets have free parking, but it can sometimes be challenging to find spots. There are parking spots dedicated for Chipotle and the Dollar Tree to the left of the coffee shop, but technically you shouldn’t park there. Maybe if you’re just going to grab a cup to go that would be okay, but I’m not endorsing that option. Just saying.
If you don’t feel like going on a parking adventure, there are a few bus lines that will stop right at that corner (check out www.metro.net to plan your trip). Or, you can get dropped off/take an Uber.
Despite these two inconveniences, I’d still recommend enjoying a couple of hours or so at Highlight Coffee. The environment is great, the drinks are great, and so are the people who work there. And, if you end up coming back on multiple occasions, you can take advantage of that by signing up for their loyalty program – 1 free drink after 10 purchases!