There’s been a recent boom for specialty coffee in Orange County, California. It seems like every month a new city in the region directly south of Los Angeles—home to Kobe Bryant and Disneyland—gets a new world-class shop. With the opening of multi-roaster Patch Coffee this past summer, the small town of Lake Forest can finally add its name to the map.
Deborah Griffith is the mind behind Patch. When contemplating where to open, Lake Forest wasn’t really on her radar. There are other cities with already established specialty coffee communities, like Santa Ana or Irvine, where Patch would seamlessly fit in. But Griffith wanted to open in an area where locals didn’t yet have access to great coffee.
“I felt it was important to go into an area that did not have a lot of exposure to specialty coffee,” Griffith says. “It’s always a risk to pioneer new territory, but I believe that if you offer exceptional product and service with integrity and authenticity, people will be drawn to you.”
This is holding true for Patch, which despite sitting in a strip mall—easy to miss if you’re not looking for it—attracts a steady flow of customers. Inside, Patch is airy with high ceilings and ample seating. But perhaps its most standout feature is the bright red, repurposed shipping container along one of the walls.
“The idea came to me in the middle of the night,” Griffith says of the container, which is filled with books and vinyl records. “I wanted to create a space that allowed for a little more privacy and coziness. After all, that’s why people like to work at coffee shops—to get a change of scenery. Having been inspired by Tony Hsieh’s Container Park concept in Nevada, I thought a shipping container would make a perfect seating area. It is a unique, iconic concept that has become a favorite coveted spot for our customers.”
Patch offers a range of coffee from in and out-of-state roasters including Four Barrel, Steadfast Coffee, Cuvee Coffee, and Counter Culture Coffee. They also have unique options like Vietnamese iced coffee brewed with a Phin filter—a product of Griffith’s Vietnamese heritage. The sweet milk-based drink is in the heavy rotation for regulars, but also popular are seasonal specials like fall’s Pumpkin Patch and Butterscotch lattes.
For those who want a little more brawn in their brew, the Gladiator—a protein latte—is always the beefy choice. Cold brew, matcha, and tea is also available. All espresso drinks are made on a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II and ground on Mahlkönig grinders. Pastries and baked goods are all local and specially selected from small businesses nearby.
It’s only been half a year, but the community is already showing up for Patch. Aside from coffee, events, like showcases to support local musicians, spoken word performers, comedians, and visual artists, draw locals to the shop. “We have events going on all the time in the current space,” Griffith says. “We also host community events and provide the space for various gatherings.”
After all, written on the floor in yellow paint at Patch’s entrance are the words “Good Together.” Whether they’re in reference to community itself, or community and coffee, is entirely up to you.