Restaurant Review: Arcade Coffee Roasters

Jaspery Goh/HIGHLANDER
Jaspery Goh/HIGHLANDER

Tucked between the warehouse and office buildings by Linden Street stands a pop-up coffee shop called Arcade Coffee Roasters. Run by two cheerful young men, Arcade Coffee Roasters is exclusively open on Thursdays and Fridays (business times are more accurately based off of their instagram account) during limited hours, and occasionally on Saturday if mentioned beforehand on their social media feeds.

It was a sunny Friday morning after my 8 a.m. class, and I felt that a coffee pick-me-up was due to push through that last stretch before the weekend. After picking up a friend and circling the area of identical warehouse doors looking for the coffee shop, I finally located the right door which had “@arcaderoasters” spraypainted in black and parked in one of the spots close by.

As I approached the modest (yet Instagram-worthy) coffee stand made of light-colored wood with a metal countertop, I noticed a few customers were sitting outside on a wooden box and casually chatting with a worker. Behind the coffee stand, however, was a giant coffee roasting machine and a couch complete with a coffee table for guests to relax and sip on their coffee in a comfortable setting.

Boasting a simple menu of lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and cold brew coffees listed on a small black board underneath the counter, it seems that Arcade Coffee Roasters focuses on delivering their best coffee rather than coming up with fancy new drinks. I decided to order the two most popular lattes by the barista’s recommendation: the honey cinnamon latte and the chocolate lavender latte (I don’t normally like my drink resembling a flower, but I decided to give it a shot anyway since it seemed interesting.)

As he pressed the coffee grounds for the espresso machine and poured the syrups into our cups, he explained that they have been in the coffee business for three years, selling and distributing coffee beans to other local shops, but they only started serving coffee a few months ago. What originally was just a random idea became reality, and soon enough the pop-up stand was drawing in curious coffee lovers from all across Riverside. We continued chatting about school, life and coffee until he announced that our lattes were ready and brought out two small, white paper cups filled with the creamy drink and topped with heart latte art.

I noticed that there were only two sizes for the drinks: a slightly taller but still small cup for cappuccinos and a smaller, fatter cup for everything else. As I scrambled through my purse for my wallet, the barista kindly told us that their entire stand is donation-only and gestured toward a big glass jar for tip, only if we wanted to. Surprised and intrigued, my companion and I thanked him for our lattes and proceeded to slip in a few bucks as a tip since it felt a little off to simply take the coffee and leave after they provided such friendly customer service.

After taking advantage of the photo opportunity, I tried the chocolate lavender latte first since it had originally sparked my interest. As I sipped on the foamy latte, I instantly warmed up. The chocolate lavender latte was a little strange-tasting to me, but then again I’m not a fan of floral drinks. There was more of a chocolate or mocha taste than the lavender, thankfully, yet the flower was still present in the aftertaste. Overall, it was a unique-tasting latte, and those who do like lavender will probably enjoy it since it has a lighter taste than you would expect.

The honey cinnamon latte, on the other hand, was a little sweeter and more of my taste (it’s also my go-to flavor at most coffee shops that have it). The honey and the cinnamon flavors balanced each other out and both my friend and I preferred this one over the chocolate lavender. To me, it seemed like both lattes had a stronger coffee taste than lattes from other places, which was nice since I usually steer away from really sweet drinks and I actually enjoy the natural taste of good coffee.
As it approached my friend’s time to work, we grabbed some lids for our coffees and left, satisfied. This definitely won’t be my last time at Arcade Coffee Roasters, although I have to admit that their limited business time makes it difficult to grab coffee without having to plan out a schedule for your visit. Aside from that, this place is worth giving a try if you like coffee and nice, casual conversations with your barista.

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