PICTURED: Coffee and egg, bacon and chive croissant. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

Singing Sun Coffee
1930 E. Main Street, Ventura
www.singingsuncoffee.com
$3-5

Let’s be clear: Sure, the coffee is important at our favorite coffee spots, but the places that become part of our routine offer more — an experience of community.

The morning coffee crowd is one of my favorite things about visiting a proper city, such as San Francisco or New York. Setting aside a few precious extra minutes in the morning, this group of people ventures to a favorite coffee stop for more than just the morning beverage. These people have their own buzz or aura. The spaces where they grab their morning fix are part of the mix, offering just the right amounts of style, service, taste and comfort.

When the space hits the mark naturally, there is conversation, hand shaking, smiles and connection. Creating that kind of gathering space in smaller cities seems to be a challenge more and more are taking on. Sometimes it can feel forced, making the experience inauthentic. The potential for too much “hip” is always a factor. True community gathering spots attract a diverse crowd organically.

The feeling at Singing Sun Coffee mirrors that community coffee spot vibe of a large city nook, while serving the community around its corner perfectly. It has the right mix: great coffee, great vibe and just enough hip without the pretentiousness.

Singing Sun was busy on a Tuesday morning with friends meeting for a chat, fathers with young children grabbing their morning pick me up, long-time friends having a weekly check-in, business folks meeting and solo thinkers working over laptops. Smiles and warm greetings over great cups.

Jazz on the radio. Built-in wood furniture with zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds — bad stuff that outgases into the air) finishes offered a variety of seating — a simple, clean atmosphere.

The bustle wasn’t overwhelming and there was no line. My cup of coffee was served immediately in a blue glass cup, making me smile. I do judge a drink, at least partially, by the cup it’s served in. It was hard to choose a pastry from the fresh, local baked goods. Muffins, croissants and other tasty morning options (including gluten-free and vegan options) all looked great. I selected an egg, bacon and chive croissant, served “up.” The pasty was crisp, flaky and fresh. A hard-cooked egg was tucked inside and wrapped in bacon. Green chives sprinkled on top. A perfect breakfast.

I have to disclose that I am not a coffee aficionado; I either like it or not. This coffee tasted great. And it was the perfect temperature (I find some spots serve it too hot to enjoy immediately). Drinking my coffee, eating my croissant and people watching with the Ventura Hillsides as a backdrop — this is Ventura living.

A word on prices. Coffee and croissant was a hair under $10. While I wish it was a little less, the reality is that this is a fair price, and it’s comparable to corporate-owned spots. The fact that Singing Sun is locally owned should be a key factor in choosing which corner your coffee comes from.

I followed up the coffee with my chai latte to-go. Yes, they have all the “milk” options. I appreciate that I was asked if I wanted my chai sweet. My “just a little” response was followed flawlessly. Topped with some cinnamon — again I was asked — the chai was the perfect balance of spice and sweet.

Even though there is parking in the back, I watched several people park across the street and walk in. In today’s world, I think it speaks to the draw of the experience at Singing Sun that folks are willing to cross Main Street to get their coffee.

As I write, a second cup of chai from Singing Sun is calling my name. Ciao.

Send in your favorite Ventura County coffee spots — new or tried and true — for review to kimberly@vcreporter.com