Coffee Muse - Mar / Apr 19

When customers walk into the Coffee Muse, owner Ricardo Martinez is happy to see them stop in their tracks.

“After a few steps, people will often say, wow, I like the vibes in here!” says Martinez, who opened Coffee Muse in June 2018 on East 4th St. in Santa Ana’s East End. “I love it when people say that, because I’ve worked hard to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere here.”

It’s the coffee shop’s ambiance that attracts devoted customers Jesse and Adrienne Torres. The couple lives in Santa Ana and has frequented the shop since August 2018.

“Most coffee places have a distant atmosphere, but Coffee Muse is inviting,” says Jesse. “In addition to offering great coffee, the staff is always personal and kind. They take time to answer our questions and recommend new drinks. The Mexican Mocha is amazing!”

Martinez and his staff serve up hand poured coffee roasted in small, six-pound batches by Martinez. “Roasting in small batches allows me to maintain control over the roasting process,” he says. “I can pay attention to the details and get the roast I want, which is generally a light to medium roast, because that’s where I pull the most flavor from the beans.”

A well-roasted coffee picks up flavors from its region, whether chocolate notes found in beans from Chiapas, Mexico or floral notes from beans grown in Kenya, says Martinez. “Roasting coffee is a marriage of science and art that involves maintaining the individual character of each bean.”

For the syrups, Martinez sources from family-owned companies that offer small batches. “I took the time to attend conventions and walk the aisles until I found the very best possible syrups and powders,” he says.

Popular resulting coffees at the Coffee Muse include the Mexican Mocha, which is like a Mexican hot chocolate with coffee. “The second most popular drink is the Dirty Vanilla Chai,” says Martinez. “Most of the time, chai tends to be too spicy for people, but this one has a hint of sweet vanilla.”

Coffee Muse also serves loose-leaf teas made with a tea dripper, which results in a full-flavored tea. “We carry unusual tea varieties, such as Superfruit, made of hibiscus and berries and featuring a sweet-tart flavor,” says Martinez. “We also have a strong Earl Grey with more of a kick than your standard variety.”

At the heart of what Martinez strives to offer in the 840-square-foot cozy shop is an abiding sense of community. “My aim is for the shop to be a gathering spot for people of all ages and walks of life,” says Martinez, who realizes that great coffee invites great conversation. “I enjoy seeing people come in to talk while they enjoy a good coffee. We’ve had a lot of positive response to hosted events at the shop, such as Open Mic Night.”

In keeping with the Santa Ana neighborhood in which the Coffee Muse is located, Martinez decorated the shop in a minimalistic manner with a slight rustic look. “I wanted the coffee to stand out, so I created an environment that showcases the making of the coffee.”

Martinez’s brother, Jesus, and father, Francisco, made all of the furniture in the shop, including tables that feature the classic Mexican game, Lotería, which is similar to Bingo.

“Instead of numbers, the game uses pictures,” says Martinez. “We built the pictures into the tops of the tables, so that customers can play, if they wish. Pinto beans are traditionally used as playing pieces, but we use coffee beans.”

Coffee Muse
310 East 4th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701  /  714-262-7089

Published in the Mar / Apr 19 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Article Written by Don Cribb, Photo by Kayli Gennaro

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