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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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How to have a cozy autumn afternoon in South Pasadena

   ‘Tis the season for warm drinks and crunchy leaves, and South Pasadena’s Mission Street has both. Mission Street is dotted with cafes and antique shops, and walking among the golden-leafed ginkgo trees felt like a scene out of “Gilmore Girls”.

   My first stop was La Monarca Bakery. As I entered, I was instantly hit with a warm, fruity, herbal aroma. I learned from the barista that it comes from the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) that the café de olla La Monarca is known for is brewed in.

   The soft lighting, orange paint, and rows of pastries on display made the cafe cozy. It was hard to resist the plump conchas, arrays of butter cookies, and buñuelos glittering with cinnamon sugar.

   In honor of fall, I ordered an off-menu hot Pumpkin Spice Horchata Latte for $5.25. It contained espresso, condensed milk, horchata, and a pumpkin spice foam on top. I also bought their seasonal pumpkin spice mini concha for $1.15.

There was not a long line, so the service was fast and cheerful. As I waited for my drink, it was easy to relax in the chatter of customers, whirring of the espresso machine, and hum of the fridges.

   The first thing I noticed when I got my drink was its rich woodsy smell from the spices in café de olla, accentuated by the nutmeg and cloves in the Torani pumpkin spice sauce they use. The

 bitter tang of the coffee developed into a smooth, round flavor that warmed me to my core. There was also an earthy taste from the olla de barro, or clay pot, the coffee was brewed in.

   From the first sip, it was clear this drink was not the average pumpkin spice latte. Where other pumpkin spice products are defined by an apple-y cinnamon flavor, this drink had clove and nutmeg take center stage. I appreciated the complexity of flavor but preferred more cinnamon. The condensed milk made it creamy but not too sweet or heavy, which strays from how sugary other pumpkin spice lattes are.

   The concha, however, was the star of the show. The outside was soft and easy to bite with very little crumbling. Inside, the concha was fluffy, buttery, and not dry at all, which made up for the lack of pumpkin spice flavor. Compared to the deep, earthy horchata latte, eating the concha was like eating clouds.

   After finishing up at La Monarca, I wandered through the various vintage and antique stores down the block. On Dec. 16, many of these shops will be at the South Pas Flea one street behind from 9 am to 3 pm. There is also the South Pasadena Farmers Market at the same location on Thursdays.

   First was South Pas Vintage, with colorful racks of skirts, shirts, scarves, and caps. Next to it is Hodgson’s Antiques, with an assortment of dust-covered jewelry, trinkets, decorations, and photos. Across the street, Yoko offers Japanese antiques and friendly service. 

   Before heading home, I stopped at Jones Coffee Roasters up the street from Yoko. I could smell their coffee before seeing their sign. Inside, Jones has colorful floors, brick walls, and various nooks to study or hang out with friends. The windows in their cozy upstairs area overlook Mission Street and fill the room with gentle sunlight.

   I ordered a small hot latte with whole milk for $3.95. The latte foam had the bitter taste of burnt sugar. Strong notes of cacao added chocolate flavor without making the drink too sweet. Jones’ coffee is softer than La Monarca’s café de olla, with tea-like floral tones, less acidity, and a more caramel-y flavor.

   I left Mission Street caffeinated and content. The retro vintage shops and reasonably priced lattes are a comforting treat year-round.


Locations mentioned:

La Monarca Bakery

1001 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

Open Mon. – Sat., 6 am – 8 pm; Sun. 7 am – 8 pm


South Pas Flea

920 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Saturday, Dec. 16, 9 am – 3 pm


South Pasadena Farmers’ Market

920 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Thursdays, 4pm – 8 pm


South Pas Vintage

1005 Mission St., Ste B, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Open Wed. – Sun., 11:30 am – 6 pm


Hodgson’s Antiques

1005 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

Open Wed., Fri., Sat., 11:30 am – 5 pm; Thurs. 11:30 am – 7 pm; Sun. 11 am – 4 pm



1018 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

Open everyday 11 am – 6 pm


Jones Coffee Roasters

1006 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

Open everyday 7 am – 5 pm

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About the Contributor
Sophia Pu
Sophia Pu, Editor in Chief
Sophia Pu is the Editor in Chief for the school newspaper, marking her fourth year with the team. Outside of her editorial duties, Sophia is involved in Speech and Debate and enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time in nature. Her commitment to the newspaper grew from a passion for interviewing a diverse range of individuals she might not have interacted with otherwise.
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