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Uniting Laptop Campers

This site was inspired by my days of laptop camping and the desire to share and explore laptop camping culture with others.

Panera Bread, 4910 Telephone Rd., Ventura, CA 93003, Score: 41/50

Probably the best place to camp in Ventura. Panera is very comfy and spacious with fresh baked goods and unlimited drink refills (including for coffee). Surprisingly it’s devoid of laptop campers.

Score: 41/50

  • Food: 4/5 – Lots of fresh baked goods in the morning (muffins, bagels, cookies, scones, cinnamon rolls) and smoothies, oatmeal, and parfaits. Salads, pasta, soups and sandwiches are offered later in the day. It’s not the best food or the best value but it is fresh and there are plenty of choices. The bagels aren’t bad though they’re not chewy enough and are more like rolls. Baked goods and bread are available all day.
  • Coffee: 3/5 – They have espresso drinks and coffee and tea in self-serve carafes. The coffee is okay. It’s not strong enough and it’s bitter.
  • Wi-fi: 4/5 – No password required, unsecure, fast. Some Panera locations restrict access during lunch but this one doesn’t seem to
  • Ambiance: 4/5 – Comfy, warm colors (very brown/yellow), contemporary like a coffeehouse, new looking.
  • Noise: 3/5 – Loud sometimes cheesy music but not too annoying, people are quiet
  • Plugs:  4/5 – Plenty along the walls but could be tough to access if you’re not sitting by the wall
  • Parking: 5/5 – In a shopping center, easy parking, free all day
  • Comfort: 5/5 – Plenty of small tables along the perimeter wall, larger tables in the center, padded chairs are comfortable. You can sit outside on the patio which has umbrellas.
  • Bathroom: 5/5 – Clean
  • Art: 4/5 – Nothing for sale, bread art is cute

Tips:  Order online for rapid pick up. Join Panera rewards program if you go often.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 4360 E Main St., Ventura, CA 93003, Score: 36/50

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Definitely a larger CBTL location, this CBTL occupies part of the former Barnes & Noble space. It’s a popular spot with campers. Employees are quite perky and friendly. It’s a popular chain in SoCal so it has a chain feel.

Score: 36/50

  • Food: 3/5 – Comparable to Peets or Starbucks with bagels, muffins, Danish, croissants, Chobani yogurt and cute mini donuts and mini scones. The croissant bagel I had tasted more like a bagel but had a hint of croissant
  • Coffee: 3/5 – The latte is hot and bland but not bitter. Starbucks and Peets are better. CBTL is known for its “ice blended drinks” (like Frappuccinos) which are sweet and indulgent.
  • Wi-fi: 3/5 – No password required, had problems logging on, there’s a wi-fi code on the flatscreen which gives you access for 2 hours
  • Ambiance: 3/5 – Very woody – wood floors, wood chairs, wood tables, wood doors, big windows facing the busy street, seems like many people meet here and camp here
  • Noise: 3/5 – Loud because it’s so busy, hum of conversation and background music, plus traffic
  • Plugs:  4/5 – Plenty along the walls but could be tough to access if you’re not sitting by the wall
  • Parking: 5/5 – In a shopping center, easy parking, free all day with some spaces reserved for short visits
  • Comfort: 4/5 – Plenty of small tables along the perimeter wall, larger tables in the center, chairs are wood and not padded
  • Bathroom: 5/5 – Clean
  • Art: 3/5 – Nothing for sale, pictures of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Tips:  Grab n’ go case stocks drinks, yogurt and hummus. Plenty of outdoor seating. They sell coffee, tea and coffee accessories.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

The Market on Holly, 57 E Holly St., Pasadena, CA (Old Town Pasadena) 91103, Score: 37/50

The Market on Holly is an attractive, upscale cafe that has a small retail section that sells gourmet olive oil, crackers, pasta, condiments, chocolates, etc. 

Score: 37/50

  • Food: 4/5 – There are plenty of tempting pastries including croissants, scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and cookies. Plus you can order eggs, oatmeal, bagels, quesadillas, etc. They make their own granola. For lunch they have salads, soup, sandwiches. The citrus scone was big and moist inside but didn’t have much citrus flavor.

  • Coffee: 4/5 – It should be good since they serve Stumptown and Handsome but the latte was weak. Nice foam art, good flavor but weak.

  • Wi-fi: 3/5 – Free, unlimited, ask for the password, I couldn’t connect

  • Ambiance: 5/5 – Modern rustic farmhouse look with huge industrial pendant lamps and wood tables

  • Noise: 5/5 – Quiet

  • Plugs:  2/5 – A few outlets 

  • Parking: 1/5 – Won’t be easy since you’re in Old Town though there are some free 90 minute parking structures, mostly metered parking

  • Comfort: 4/5 – Counter seating, communal tables, outdoor seating, some padded chairs, some stools, great A/C

  • Bathroom: 5/5 –  Two bathrooms, very nice

  • Art: 4/5 – None but lovely decor and a view of the kitchen

Tips: Look for the weekend brunch menu. I usually see a few campers here but not many. The Market on Holly is very close to the Memorial Park Gold Line station.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Cafe MangoSix, 8428 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA (Beverly Grove) 90048, Score: 30/50

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MangoSix is a Korean coffee/dessert chain that specializes in fresh mango juice drinks. You can customize your mango juice in various ways. They also have Intelligentsia Coffee, boba milk tea, smoothies, pastries (not many of them) and organic self serve froyo.

Score: 30/50

  • Food: 2/5 – The organic froyo had a weird flavor and was icy. They don’t have many food options (it’s mostly a place for drinks).

  • Coffee: 3/5 – Probably pretty good since they serve Intelligentsia but the Earl Grey milk tea that I had was very watered down

  • Wi-fi: 3/5 – Free, unlimited, no password required but I did have problems connecting

  • Ambiance: 5/5 – Nice modern decor

  • Noise: 2/5 – Loud music

  • Plugs:  3/5 – Good number of outlets

  • Parking: 1/5 – Pretty bad, they have their own parking in the back but very few spaces, expect to pay $1/hour

  • Comfort: 4/5 – Chairs aren’t padded but they aren’t uncomfortable either, mostly small tables

  • Bathroom: 4/5 –  Unisex

  • Art: 3/5 – None

Tips: They also sell fresh mangos, honey and random things (mugs, notebooks and monkey themed items).

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

 

Chick-fil-A, 1321 Eastman Ave., Ventura, CA 93003, Score: 39/50

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It’s not your typical place to camp, but this Chick-fil-A is actually a really good camping spot. It’s comfy, clean, quiet and new, plus the chicken is always tender.

Score: 39/50

  • Food: 5/5 – Breakfast is my favorite meal here because of their tender hot biscuits with crispy chicken. I’m also a fan of their sauces. The waffle fries are a skip. You can get grilled and fried chicken, salads, sides and desserts.

  • Coffee: 2/5 – Drip coffee is bitter and nothing to write home about. Maybe get the sweet tea instead (I haven’t tried it yet).

  • Wi-fi: 4/5 – Free, no password required, stable.

  • Ambiance: 4/5 – Quite nice - homey and bright, contemporary warm colors, fake flowers in vases.

  • Noise: 4/5 – Quiet, music is unobtrusive like elevator music, no vocals

  • Plugs:  2/5 – Only spotted three in the dining area

  • Parking: 5/5 – Easy, private parking lot, no sign of time limits

  • Comfort: 5/5 – Lots of small tables, padded seats, booths

  • Bathroom: 5/5 –  Two of them

  • Art: 3/5 – Nothing on the walls other than corporate posters - cows promote their chicken which is cute

Tips: Credit cards are accepted. There’s a play area for kids. This location has a drive thru. Closed on Sundays. Operating hours: 6:30 am - 10 pm. Breakfast is served till 10:30 am.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

 

Caffe Vita, 4432 W Sunset Dr., Los Angeles (Los Feliz), CA 90027, Score: 39/50

Seattle meets Los Angeles at this LA outpost of Seattle’s Caffe Vita. It’s become a popular spot for serious laptop camping. Rudy’s Barbershop (of Seattle) is next door. I think I love everything about the place including the Caffe Vita merchandise, art, decor and of course the coffee.

Score: 39/50

  • Food: 4/5 – Nice quality pastries including muffins, croissants (not flaky enough), scones, doughnuts, cookies, etc. They don’t have substantive food like sandwiches.

  • Coffee: 5/5 – Consistently superb, with pretty latte art of course. The lattes have depth and creaminess, without being bitter or overroasted.

  • Wi-fi: 3/5 – Free, unlimited, no password required but I did have problems connecting

  • Ambiance: 5/5 – Sit outside with your laptop or inside, high ceilings, exposed brick, hip/industrial feel

  • Noise: 3/5 – The music is loud but never annoying, patrons are quiet

  • Plugs:  4/5 – Plugs upstairs and probably downstairs

  • Parking: 1/5 – Not easy, one hour free street parking is about the best you’ll find

  • Comfort: 4/5 – Chairs aren’t padded but they aren’t uncomfortable either, mostly small tables

  • Bathroom: 5/5 –  Two nice ones

  • Art: 5/5 – Always interesting pieces

Tips: The upstairs is darker and more private than the downstairs. It can be busy here so you might not find a table. You can buy coffee beans, hats, t-shirts, coffee making accessories, and mugs. I like the t-shirt and mug designs.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

 

Antigua Bread, 5703 N Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA (Highland Park) 90042, Score: 32/50

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For a bakery, I was surprised to not see that many pastries, but Antigua Bread does have a full menu that includes options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Look for the Mexican items on the menu and the pastry case.

Score: 32/50

  • Food: 4/5 – Pastries include pan dulce (Mexican sweet breads), muffins, croissants and danish. You can also get omelets, breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches, burgers, smoothies, salads, burritos, etc. My Antigua breakfast sandwich had bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, avocado and ham on white toast with breakfast potatoes on the side.

  • Coffee: 3/5 – No foam art on the latte.The latte wasn’t bitter but it didn’t have that complex richness that I look for.

  • Wi-fi: 3/5 – Free, secure, unlimited but I got kicked off a few times.

  • Ambiance: 3/5 – Homey, warm colors inside, exposed brick wall, covered patio seating outside.

  • Noise: 3/5 – Noisy outside due to all the traffic

  • Plugs:  2/5 – Spotted two outside

  • Parking: 4/5 – They have their own parking lot and free parking for 2 hours

  • Comfort: 4/5 – Cozy, busy bakery/cafe

  • Bathroom: 3/5 –  Single, unisex

  • Art: 3/5 – Not much art on the walls

Tips: It can be busy here so you might not find a table. You can buy coffee beans.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

 

The Pie Hole, 59 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105, Score: 30/50

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Aka pie heaven, the place that converted me from pie hater to pie lover. Of course there’s free wi-fi in pie heaven.

Score: 30/50

  • Food: 5/5 – Savory and sweet pies to choose from. Some standards are always available, others are seasonal/specials. The crusts are amazing and they’re generous with whipped cream. Favorite pie: Earl Grey!

  • Coffee: 5/5 – Their own blend of organic coffee is excellent and perfect with pie. You can buy the coffee beans by the pound.

  • Wi-fi: 5/5 – Free, unlimited

  • Ambiance: 4/5 – High ceilings, industrial, lots of empty space, limited seating

  • Noise: 3/5 – Music is loud but soothing

  • Plugs:  0/5 – Didn’t see any

  • Parking: 1/5 – It’s in Old Town so parking is a pain even late at night. There are some parking garages that offer 90 minutes free parking.

  • Comfort: 3/5 – Benches and chairs aren’t padded

  • Bathroom: 0/5 – None

  • Art: 4/5 – Nothing for sale but cute place

Tips: They sell Pie Hole apparel. Whole pies are available with 24 hour notice. The space known as Indiana Colony is share with other vendors (currently Coolhaus and Pressed Juicery with more to come). Earn rewards with Belly.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Saj Bakery, 11146 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills, CA 91344, Score: 29/50

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Saj Bakery combines the comforts of freshly baked Lebanese flatbreads and savory pies with free wi-fi. While they have a/c, it’s not terribly effective on a hot day in the Valley.

Score: 29/50

  • Food: 5/5 –Saj and oven baked manaish are served up fresh and big. They also have sandwiches and shawarma. The veggie saroukh is a thin baked flatbread folded over finely chopped onion, peppers, tomatoes, spices topped with sesame seeds, simple and good but the veggies could have been more interesting
  • Coffee: 3/5 – The coffee comes out of a push button machine (I didn’t try it). Traditional tea tastes similar to Lipton.
  • Wi-fi: 5/5 – Secure, ask for password, unlimited
  • Ambiance: 2/5 – Like being in another country? Don’t expect anything fancy. There’s a huge open kitchen with grills and ovens.
  • Noise: 3/5 – Loud Middle Eastern music is interesting, quiet patrons
  • Plugs:  1/5 – One by the entrance
  • Parking: 5/5 – In a shopping center, easy, unlimited free parking
  • Comfort: 3/5 – Chairs are padded but still hard, tables far apart, can be uncomfortably warm on hot days despite the a/c
  • Bathroom: 0/5 – None? Didn’t see one
  • Art: 2/5 – Framed pictures of Lebanon on the wall, same frames, some are crooked

Tips:  $10 credit card minimum. They have yogurt drinks in the fridge and lots of yogurt (labneh) items.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Beacon Coffee, 5777 Olivas Park Dr., Ventura, CA 93003, Score: 30/50

Finally, Ventura has a quality local coffee roaster. Beacon specializes in single estate coffee sourced from the “top 15% of the world’s coffee farmers.” They roast the beans on the premises and you can watch the roasting process from the dining area.

Score: 30/50

  • Food: 3/5 – Limited options, the focus is clearly on the coffee. They have locally made scones, cookies and chocolate bars.

  • Coffee: 4/5 – The latte ($3.50) was smooth and milky with a clean finish and low acidity. I wish it were stronger. Decent foam art. They have pour overs, cold brew coffee, espresso drinks (including flat whites), fancy hot chocolate, and teas.

  • Wi-fi: 1/5 – Free, secure, unlimited but I could not get online (connection was too weak). They warned me that the connection was very slow and said they were hoping to improve the wi-fi soon.

  • Ambiance: 2/5 – It’s a small place in an industrial office park with not much decor. The wood tables with the Beacon logo are nice.

  • Noise: 5/5 – Quiet, no music

  • Plugs:  0/5 – None in the seating area, one by the entrance that’s not practical to use

  • Parking: 5/5 – Easy, private parking lot, no sign of time limits

  • Comfort: 4/5 – A small place with four tables and plush, thick padded bench style seating

  • Bathroom: 3/5 –  Single, unisex

  • Art: 3/5 – Nothing on the walls

Tips: Coffee beans and coffee accessories are available for sale. Nonfat milk is not available but they have 2% milk. They only use organic milk.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper