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Coffee Shop Conundrums: Indie vs. Corporate; Solo vs. Chain

$4.00 lattes are the norm, whether you go to Starbucks or your local free trade coffee watering hole.

Everywhere you go, the beauty of Capitalism reigns supreme. Even in one of the worst economical recessions of U.S. history, you can afford to purchase this luxurious necessity, while struggling to pay your other daily bills. However, today’s topic isn’t full of gloom and caffeine doom. I present to you, two different independent coffee shops. Their contributions to society are the tides of change, small businesses playing a role to stimulate the local economy.

First off is Berlin (a brand new expansion of the Portfolio Coffeehouse Brand of Long Beach):

Entrance/Outside Patio of Berlin

Interior of Berlin with extended hallway

Interior and Long Dining Table; Berlin

Although this is the first expansion of the Portfolio Coffeehouse Brand, one must wonder,

“Is it worth expanding, when you already have a steady following from the original?”

“What makes this place different from Portfolio?”

Ever since the beloved Starbucks Coffee brand made headlines on its aggressive expansion several years ago, taking all things into consideration, the business model must be effectively streamlined (by that I mean recreating all the minor details and major themes the original flagship has presently). Sadly, a majority of the time you lose the essence of what the original store represented after diluting yourself to the public at large,  which is applied to many other businesses who follow suit.

Which leads me to the second example, Casa De Luna (a single independent spot in Bellflower):

Entrance to Casa De Luna

Bookshelf offerings of Casa De Luna

One Cup; One Heart (By Taylor; Barista of Casa De Luna)

Granted this particular spot isn’t as established as Portfolio, Starbucks or Coffee Bean. However, for the Bellflower community, these are some of the few reasons: to enjoy your favorite summer brew, divulge in a choice of literature and/or utilized this place as a quiet area of study (or blogger’s productivity, your choice).

At the end of the day, no one is holding a revolver to your forehead in picking a brand, regardless if your allegiance stays with the coffee giants (or humble mom and pop shops).No matter how trendy anything becomes, the innovation of our society allows people to take risks, maintain tradition, or even restore and renew establishments.

When they trim the fat in some places, sometimes you just gotta make some adjustments of your own. Have a great weekend everyone.

Berlin (of the Portfolio Coffeehouse group)
420 E 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90802
#: (562) 435-0600


Casa De Luna
9835 Belmont Street
Bellflower, CA 90706
#: (562) 925-0509

About Foodoofus

I am a Writer and Food & Beverage Insider/Editor in Chief located within the SF Bay Area. Subscribe to us here on Wordpress (and other social media outlets) for all the latest food and beverage news and trends. Thanks for all of your support.


6 thoughts on “Coffee Shop Conundrums: Indie vs. Corporate; Solo vs. Chain

  1. Casa De Luna seems like a place to just get away

    Posted by Jonas Tsai | August 19, 2011, 7:15 pm
  2. I’ve been to Casa de Luna a number of times and I feel like your post (while brief), really misses what Omar and his team and all about…A quiet place to study or read a book?, Sure, but what about the walls? Casa de Luna acts as a free gallery, featuring the work of local artists each month. It’s cozy in there, but they even let local bands perform. In a neighborhood where a Starbucks actually closed about 2 years ago, Casa de Luna brings more than a pretty cup of coffee to the table…

    Posted by Ivan Randall | August 23, 2011, 10:26 pm
    • You’re absolutely right Ivan, for that I apologize to you and the rest of the readers for the lack of detail.
      I do believe, there is more to Casa De Luna and unfortunately the week that I visited this place, I was unable to get Omar’s (who I believe is the owner you’re referring to) thoughts and pick his brain as to why he decided to create a place that’s mellow and radiant at the same time. It wouldn’t do the place justice with a lack of information, therefore this particular post was more so a reflection and a means to compare/contrast with the benefits of having a single business or expanding in one’s respective market. Hopefully this week’s entry will make up for it.

      Posted by Foodoofus | August 26, 2011, 11:40 am
  3. You know, I would love to hear more on this. You setup at great template for diving deeper into the coffee culture. Kind of in the same vein as Ivan is saying, I’d like to see a more micro analysis of what is exactly that gives (or doesn’t give) these spots their appeal. Is there a culture surrounding the coffee spot? What does that consist of? Are they giving free WiFi? Are they supporting the community (local art, musicians, etc). I rarely go to chains anymore simply because I just don’t feel what I want to feel when I step inside; that I’m a part of a something.

    Posted by Drew McCrary | September 1, 2011, 8:43 am
    • Hello Drew,

      I can provide a micro analysis but it would also depend on the audience if they constantly request such a thing (kind of like what you did right now). In the future, when I return to this issue, I’ll dive deeper into more intimate matters with the coffee culture. For these particular spots highlighted, I’ll answer the following:

      The cultures: They vary, between areas one is a bigger metropolitan sprawl the other is in a smaller neighborhood.

      Wifi: Yes, both places offer it.

      Community support: They both support the community in different ways. One is attached to an indie bookstore, while the other is a part time, showcase/art gallery.

      Thanks for your support and be on the lookout for future publications.

      Posted by Foodoofus | September 13, 2011, 10:39 am

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