5 old-school coffee houses where you can hang for hours on end

Sometimes you want to hang out with a friend, or a book, or a sketchpad, or your laptop and some homework and grab a coffee and not feel like you can’t take all the time in the world.

Here are five great Long Beach spots that have stood the test of time where you can camp out a table or sofa and people watch the afternoon away.

Viento y Agua

Viento y Agua coffeehouse and its Killer Tomato bagel sandwich. Photo by Matt Miller.

I went to check out Viento y Agua (wind and water) because I was looking for that coffeehouse vibe where you can pull out a book, or write down a thought and comfortably camp out for a couple of hours without feeling awkward.

As I sat at my table, sipping my coffee and typing away, a man sat across from me on the couch reading a local newspaper. Behind me, another person sat in an armchair reading a book. Across the room, five other people tapped away on their laptops, and aside from the call of drinks ready for pickup, there was nothing but the soothing music of chill guitar strumming hypnotically.

With three sections and plenty of seating, this throwback coffeehouse lends itself to events, art openings, readings, music and open mics.

Probably the greatest thing is the standard coffeehouse food, that staple of simple bagel sandwiches that echo the old-school coffeehouse fare going back to the days when one could sit inside and smoke.

When you do decide to visit, because you want a place to hang out and grab a light bite while you sketch your thoughts, be sure to try the Killer Tomato on an everything bagel.

Killer Tomato: A slathering of cream cheese with chilled sliced tomato, a pile of spinach, held down by a few slivers of avocado, then dusted with lemon pepper. Crunchy and refreshing, light and easy to nibble while you write, read, draw, or talk with a friend.

They are currently open for shorter hours, so watch for special events to come back as the world continues to open up again.

Viento y Agua 4007 E. Fourth St. vientoyaguacoffeehouse.com Insta:@vientoyaguacoffeehouse

The Library Coffeehouse

The eclectic interior of The Library Coffeehouse in Belmont Heights. Photo by Matt Miller.

The only thing missing from The Library, being an old-school coffeehouse, is a mid-chest-high haze of cigarette smoke, with blue curls ribboning from smoldering orange glows perched between fingers frozen in deep thought or conversation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice not walking into a cigarette smoke-filled coffeehouse, but the room seems almost incomplete without it in some way.

Dark and packed with a hodgepodge of café tables and cocktail tables, kitchen tables and coffee tables, dining room chairs, garden chairs, armchairs, love seats, and sofas that haven’t been cleaned since Clinton was president, this is the sort of place where a revolutionary conversation can be had in softly charged voices.

It isn’t out of the ordinary to find each table taken up by a laptop, with the soft sound of tapping heard just below the music. Murmurs of conversation in hushes are mouthed from faces illuminated by the glow of computer screens.

The bookshelves are stocked with discarded and forgotten books, some belonging to the actual public library, and repurposed cases intended for antiquities or apparel are used to display plastic-wrapped bagels and muffins. A display case of cakes, juices, and salads is available as sustenance to keep your mind alert as you study, or try to figure out how to take over the world.

A word of advice: buy a bite to eat and camp out a table, but if you like coffee, even bad coffee, bring your own.

The Library Coffeehouse 3418 E. Broadway thelibrararycoffee.com

Hot Java

Hot Java in Alamitos Beach. Photo by Matt Miller.

Right across from Bixby Park, and close to Bluff Park, Hot Java is a great place to meet up with your friends before or after going to yoga on the bluff.

A nice living room setup around a fireplace creates a cozy place for reading a book or listening to some music while you evaluate your options for the day.

High-top tables, café tables, and communal tables give Hot Java a vibe similar to what you might expect at the campus café of a small college.

Hot Java 2101 E. Broadway Insta: @hotjavalb

Portfolio Coffeehouse

Portfolio Coffee on Retro Row. Photo by Matt Miller.

A coffeehouse that fairly recently had a facelift, the cramped tables pushed up to banquettes, with stylish yet uncomfortable chairs is a great place to hang out and study or meet friends for a visit, but it’s not the sort of place you’re going to comfortably hunker down. But then again, it’s not really designed to be comfortable; it’s designed to offer temporary seating while you spend your time and move on.

A note: If they’re offering the turmeric latte, it is quite pleasant, but should you order one be sure you pronounce turmeric correctly. They prefer the European pronunciation and are quick to verbally scold you with an audible correction. Too-mahr-ick.

Portfolio Coffee 2300 Fourth St. portfoliocoffeehouse.com

Sheldrake Coffee

Sheldrake Coffee on Second Street. Photo by Matt Miller.

Formerly Polly’s Coffee on Second and the now-named Sheldrake in Belmont Shore rounds out this list. The old coffee roaster they use is a Model T Ford compared to the software-operated Tesla version that more modern coffee roasters use to profile roast from downloaded database recipes.

At Sheldrake, you can get freshly roasted coffee any day, sit out on the patio, and watch the bustling of Second Street while you get some sun and plan your week.

Sheldrake Coffee Roasting 4606 Second St. sheldrakecoffeeroasting.com

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