Author: Melina Devoney
For Zweet Café to call itself a “special coffee boutique” on its website comes across as somewhat haughty — but nevertheless well-deserved.
The coffee boutique on Eagle Rock Boulevard — previously a sweets shop called Zweet Station — opened in mid-October. On a weekday night, it had a homier atmosphere than your typical coffee joint. Instead of jittery customers typing frantically on their laptops or tapping their feet in line, parents ate pastries with their kids at family-style seating while college students studied at single tables.
Kenna Pua (sophomore) sat outside with a friend, studying and sipping soy and almond milk lattes.
“The coffee is really good,” Pua said. “It’s a very nice atmosphere.”
The interior is decorated with mini succulent plants, coffee-related artwork, an assortment of (possibly faux) antiques and metal-work lighting fixtures. The mismatched design of Zweet Café sets it apart from the off-putting plainness of its competitors. Zweet Café invites its customers to stay for long periods of time with its roomy seating and free WiFi, instead of limiting bar seating to an hour (cough cough, Swork) or turning off WiFi on the weekends (Café de Leche has some nerve).
In contrast to its vintage décor, the cafe played a hearty amount of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Although Gomez sang of her “Same Old Love,” Zweet Café definitely does not serve the “same old coffee” — the soy latte was uniquely smooth and mild, and the perfectly thick layer of foam made up for the lack of a bitter punch in the espresso.
Even before applying the 10 percent discount for Occidental students, Zweet Café offers lower prices than Swork, Café de Leche, Highland Café and Occidental’s Green Bean Coffee Lounge. With lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos only costing $2.70 to $4.20 for eight to 20 ounces respectively, I dropped about the same amount of money that I would at Starbucks (without dropping a little bit of my dignity).
Zweet Café also sells brewed coffee, homemade iced tea, mocha, chai and matcha lattes and hot white or dark chocolate. All drinks are available in iced versions up to 24 ounces. They also offer flavor shots and the option of dairy, almond or soy milk.
The long list of teas beckons for attention with its varieties such as pumpkin pie, Turkish apple, Dragon Jasmine Pearls, masala chai, Egyptian chamomile and Moroccan mint.
The display cases are stacked high with cold-pressed juices as well as traditional, vegan and gluten-free pastries from Bread Lounge, a bakery in Downtown Los Angeles’ Art District.
“It’s run by a cute old man who makes everything by hand,” the barista said.
Bread Lounge supplies Zweet Café with usual cookies, croissants and fruit and cheese Danishes, as well as specialties such as pistachio Danishes, pumpkin pound cake and mousse parfaits.
At Zweet Café, it is the small touches that make it so welcoming: the water bubbler is filled with lemon wedges and the back of the cafe is set up with kid’s toys and magazines. Even the bathroom is pristine and meticulously decorated. The outside seating is augmented with a small, artsy fountain. The baristas bring your order to your table.
“Everyone here is really friendly,” Pau said. “The baristas are really nice.”
With its welcoming vibe, bountiful food options and proximity to the college, Zweet Café succeeded in transforming from Zweet Station to a hub for caffeinating Oxy students — except night owls. Its 8 p.m. daily closing time is incompatible with the average college student’s studying hours.
Though it does not provide either a spot for late night study sessions or as many drink options as Starbucks and the Green Bean, Pau concluded that Zweet Cafe’s coffee trumps them both.
“Sorry, Green Bean!” Pau said.
I remain undecided on a winner, which may be merely an effect of my loyalty to the campus coffee shop at which I work and my Gold Card membership to Starbucks.
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