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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.

Bean Town, 45 N Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre, CA 91024, Score: 36/50

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Where Sierra Madre meets and socializes…the laptop campers sit around the perimeter, the regulars congregate on the couches in the center. It feels like a small town place with many regulars. Friendly folks all around. It might be difficult to find seating.

Score: 36/50

  • Food: 4/5 – Lots to choose from including pastries, desserts, deli salads, bagels, breakfast bowls, smoothies, sandwiches, quiche and eggs. The sandwiches and salads are pre-made and in the grab n’ go case. They also have a case of Fosselman’s Ice Cream.
  • Coffee: 4/5 – Surprised to see some decent foam art, pretty strong latte, Klatch Coffee served
  • Wi-fi: 4/5 – No password required, unlimited, good speed, didn’t get kicked off
  • Ambiance: 3/5 – Has that old independent coffeehouse feel with mismatched chairs and old couches, exposed wood ceiling beams, random things on the wall, kinda cozy, feels a bit like an antique shop
  • Noise: 4/5 – Music isn’t loud, mostly the sound of people talking
  • Plugs:  3/5 – Plenty along the walls but could be tough to access if you’re not sitting by the wall
  • Parking: 5/5 – Two to three hour free street parking downtown, free unlimited parking in the neighborhoods
  • Comfort: 3/5 – Plenty of small tables along the perimeter wall but the benches are hard and unpadded (like the type of benches you’d see outdoors)
  • Bathroom: 3/5 – Forgot to check out but saw that they have one
  • Art: 3/5 – Two paintings, not sure if they are for sale

Tips:  Outdoor seating available. They have board games. Coffee beans, coffee and tea accessories are for sale. Belly Card loyalty program.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Lavender & Honey, 1383 E Washington Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91104, Score: 37/50

Pasadena’s newest coffeehouse already has a loyal following. They serve Klatch Coffee and have a cute honeybee theme. You’ll find honeybee lattes and toast with lavender and honey. Seating is limited.

Score: 37/50

  • Food: 4/5 – For breakfast choose from pastries and made to order toast (4 kinds). The lunch menu includes made to order sandwiches and salads. The Pasadena toast ($3) with creamy avocado and sliced chili peppers was simple and tasty. The toast is small so don’t come hungry. Gluten free options are provided.
  • Coffee: 4/5 – Latte was nice and creamy not bitter or overroasted, no foam art
  • Wi-fi: 4/5 – Ask for the password up front, decent speed, unlimited
  • Ambiance: 5/5 – Very nice, feminine but not so much so that men would be put off – modern, shabby chic, lots of natural light, white tiles
  • Noise: 4/5 – No music, quiet but busy/small place
  • Plugs:  0/5 – Didn’t see any
  • Parking: 5/5 – Huge parking lot in the back
  • Comfort: 3/5 – Unpadded, indoor and outdoor seating
  • Bathroom: 4/5 – One outside of the building
  • Art: 4/5 – Nothing on the walls yet but cute place

Tips:  Ask for a bonus card to earn a free drink. They also sell jams, pickles, and nuts. Day old pastries are $2 each.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Pencil, 12 Harkness Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106, Score: 39/50

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Cute little Asian owned (Korean?) café across from PCC (Pasadena Community College) with a pencil theme. The clock has pencils, the sign is a giant pencil, and the pole has been painted to look like a giant pencil.

Score: 39/50

  • Food: 4/5 – Bagels, sandwiches, organic salads, rice rolls, smoothies, ice cream and mochi. They use free range hormone free chicken. You can add kimchee for 75 cents. The spicy roast beef sandwich ($7) was made to order. The sandwich was oddly salty yet the crunchy slaw (carrot, cabbage, almonds, pecan slaw). The white roll was soft and warm. It wasn’t spicy at all. The sandwich was on the small side. I’d give the sandwich a three because it was salty in a strange way.
  • Coffee: 3/5 – They have coffee but I haven’t tried it. I liked the iced tea lemonade but it had too much ice in it
  • Wi-fi: 5/5 – Password required, unlimited, fast
  • Ambiance: 4/5 – Warm colors,  quirky and cute, contemporary feel
  • Noise: 4/5 – Quiet, music is calming, refrigerator hums, but you run the risk of running into loud students
  • Plugs:  3/5 – Not enough for everyone but a couple sprinkled throughout
  • Parking: 2/5 – Can be a challenge, 2 hour free parking in the neighborhood but it’s across from PCC
  • Comfort: 4/5 – Small tables, padded chairs and one counter in the back with stools, it’s a small place
  • Bathroom: 5/5 – Clean unisex
  • Art: 5/5 – Nothing for sale, but cute pieces, modern

Tips:  Cash or debit card only. They’ll call you when your order is ready. Books for browsing in the back. Complimentary water. Bottled beverages and potato chips are for sale. During the week it closes early at 4 PM.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Kaffeine, 99 S Lake Ave. Ste 192, Pasadena, CA 91101, Score: 30/50

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There wasn’t a quality independent coffeehouse on Lake Ave. Kaffeine attempts to fill that void. They serve Equal Exchange fair trade coffee. It’s a nice looking spot but a bit lacking in personality.

Score: 30/50

  • Food: 3/5 – Not many pastries available – bagels, croissants, muffins. For the bagels they only have butter or cream cheese. They also have pre-made sandwiches (which I think they heat up in the Panini press) and salads. The chocolate croissant I had was OK – I asked for it to be heated and it was just soft without many layers.
  • Coffee: 4/5 – Drinks are cheaper than average. The latte didn’t have foam art or richness/creaminess, but it was fairly strong. They also have smoothies (not made to order). The person making the latte could use more training.
  • Wi-fi: 5/5 – Password required, unlimited, fast
  • Ambiance: 4/5 – Very nice, modern with lots of hanging ceiling lights, polished metal chair and stools,  light wood, new furniture
  • Noise: 4/5 – The music isn’t too loud, you do hear traffic driving down on Lake. The music is old…it could scare some people away.
  • Plugs:  2/5 – Three of them in one corner – so not many people will be able to access them
  • Parking: 1/5 – Not too easy, expect 2 hour free street parking at best, metered parking on Lake, validated parking at the Shops on Lake St.
  • Comfort: 3/5 – Small tables, long counter with stools, one long communal table, light metal chairs aren’t padded
  • Bathroom: 0/5 – Didn’t see any unless it’s outside
  • Art: 4/5 – Nothing but nice looking place

Tips:  Coffee and tea accessories are for sale. Outdoor seating available.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

Ladybug Tea House, 1457 E Valley Blvd., Alhambra, CA 91801, Score: 30/50

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The focus is really on drinks here because they have almost no food. The décor is odd…but they have a good wi-fi signal.

Score: 30/50

  • Food: 1/5 – Almost nothing available, they have some muffins and cinnamon rolls probably purchased from elsewhere. No popcorn chicken.
  • Coffee: 4/5 – They have one coffee drink, coffee milk tea, which I didn’t try. Other drinks include milk tea, smoothies, slush, sweet tea and yogurt drinks. It’s not a huge menu. Hot beverages are extra.I ordered the black sugar milk tea ($3.45+ 40 cents for boba) with honey boba, less sweet. It was creamier than usual and not too sweet, with small pieces of ice (and not too much ice). The pearls weren’t as sweet as other places that serve honey boba.
  • Wi-fi: 5/5 – Password required, unlimited, fast
  • Ambiance: 2/5 – Weird white columns and dark wine colored walls, not much décor but it’s weird and random. They have books and magazines you can read.
  • Noise: 2/5 – The pop music is so loud and annoying
  • Plugs:  3/5 – Not enough for everyone but some sprinkled throughout
  • Parking: 5/5 – In a strip mall where you can park all day for free
  • Comfort: 4/5 – Small tables, padded chairs, pretty comfy
  • Bathroom: 3/5 – One unisex
  • Art: 1/5 – One map of the US, kinda random

Tips:  It’s cash only. The drink making area is hidden from sight. Earn free drinks with FiveStars.

"Laptop Campers Unite!"

- Laptop Camper

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