“Cleverly hidden” coffee shop: Urban Steam

“Do you make your own whipped cream?”, I asked Kelly, the owner of Urban Steam Coffee Bar.

“Yeah,” he said and kind of shrugged.  I didn’t understand.

“So it doesn’t come in a spray can?”, I said suspiciously.

He reached into the cooler and brought out one of those fancy whipped cream bottles chefs use.  Then, much to my delight, he put it in a paper cup and handed it to me.

Sure enough, they make it themselves.  Here is the cup (partially eaten) and the mocha I ordered, with more whipped cream.

Sure enough, they make it themselves. Here is the cup (partially eaten) and the mocha I ordered, with more whipped cream.

You  have to know where you’re going to find this industrial-looking little shop.  It’s in a shopping center I had never noticed before, on the corner of Sierra Madre and Las Vegas St., all the way on the south end of Sierra Madre, past the railroad tracks.

The menu reminds me of the railroad tracks.

The menu reminds me of the railroad tracks.

“Why did you call the place Urban Steam?”, I wondered.

Kelly explained that he’d liked the name of another coffee shop in another state with the word ‘Urban’ in it.  ‘Steam’ refers to the steam in the espresso machine.

“So it’s not because of the power plant?”, I asked.  The Drake power plant steams away nearby, making the electricity that keeps us warm on this cold winter day.

It’s not.  As a power-plant and factory enthusiast, I was a bit disappointed, but didn’t argue.  I had too many questions about the coffee.

A guide to coffee ... Kelly has several of these on the walls.

A guide to coffee … Kelly has several of these on the walls.  I could spend all day studying them.

I thought the location would be the most remarkable thing about this coffee shop, but I was wrong.  Kelly roasts his own coffee, in fact he says he opened the shop because he needed a way to sell that coffee, and he offers a way to taste each one.  You can order a single cup of what he calls “Pour Over Coffee”.

You can choose from a long list of varieties.

You can choose from a long list of varieties.

He grinds up the coffee when you order it and puts it into a single cup filter.

I took a plastic version of this overseas once, but haven't seen one since.

I took a plastic version of this overseas once, but haven’t seen one since.

You get a fresh-brewed cup of his artisan coffee AND (if you ask) you get to smell it when it’s fresh-ground!

In my opinion, the smell of fresh ground coffee is worth the price of the whole cup!

Urban Steam will feed you too.  The shop has a chef, a young man whose name I did not write down.  It’s a shame though, since he had an interesting story.  He started out as a journalist and writer, but had a calling to cook.  He became a chef and now spends his days executing Urban Steam’s international style menu.

You can order a panini sandwich or a salad to go with your carefully-selected cup of coffee.

You can order a panini sandwich or a salad to go with your carefully-selected cup of coffee.

I definitely recommend stopping in at Urban Steam, even if it’s a bit hard to find.  You can’t get Kelly’s coffee anywhere else.  They offer a wide range of coffee options and the food is fresh and well prepared.

And, my favorite … if you choose your table carefully, you can watch the espresso machine-reminiscent steam rise from the power plant while you sip your coffee in comfort and warmth.

Even coffee with homemade whipped cream.

Mocha with whipped cream

 
Urban Steam Coffee Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon


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