Business #1: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Business #2: Santa Monica Tobacco
Business #3: Bird Pick Tea & Herb
Why I can't live without these three businesses: Coffee Bean is the start of my day. Almost every morning I walk in to be greeted by, "Good Morning Elsie, what can I get you?" I don't fully wake up until I've gotten my iced coffee. I've been going to Coffee Bean for as long as I can remember and I've always argued that Coffee Bean would beat Starbucks any day because of their unique taste. I go to Coffee Bean on a near-daily basis and I get the usual: a regular iced coffee with soy, chocolate powder, and easy ice. I go to Coffee Bean to meet friends and do homework. When I go out of state I find myself longing for their mocha ice blended and their Jasmine Dragon Tea Latte. On those dreary, hectic mornings when I don't have time to get to school, find parking, AND get coffee, I usually end up back at Coffee Bean when school ends because my coffee withdrawal headache has become too unbearable.
The Santa Monica Tobacco shop is located on the west side of 4th Street, just north of Broadway. It's one of those hidden gems that you never knew existed until someone pointed it out. I used to work at Vans right across the street and my coworkers would come back with a sandwich from the Tobacco Shop and go on endlessly, with a full mouth, about how amazing it is. At first I thought, "Sandwiches from a tobacco shop? Really?" Until I tried them. You can get a sandwich for around five dollars with anything you want in it. The price doesn't go up whether you've ordered two types of meat or three different cheeses. This place doesn't only deserve credit for their sandwiches, but also for their extensive menu of drinks. From iced smoothies to hot coffee, you can find anything you want. They also sport a huge variety of chips, ice cream, gum and mints, and of course, tobacco. You can find anything in this store and they'll always remember your name.
Bird Pick Tea & Herb in the Santa Monica Place would be my number one choice every morning if only I didn't have to spend time parking in the mall. When you walk in, you're surrounded by a vast assortment of teas and devices for brewing tea. At first I thought it was just a plain old tea shop until my coworkers at Vans started raving about the drinks they get from the bar inside. My manager finally got me to go into here and I never stopped. They make the drinks from scratch and use only their finest ingredients. I always got the soy iced Matcha green tea with a bit of simple syrup. The caffeine that comes from the matcha green tea powder is a whole other world when compared to the caffeine that comes from coffee. Everyday before work I would come here, get my matcha green tea, one of their extraordinarily delicious blueberry muffins, and I never got the anxiety or crash that comes from coffee. I would sit and wait on one of the high chairs at the bar and watch as they ground the powder with the pestle and mortar. Everyone from skateboarders to men in business suits can be found sitting around the bar, waiting for their favorite drink. After quitting my job nearby, I find myself constantly longing for the atmosphere, the muffins, and above all, my favorite drink, none of which you can find anywhere else in Santa Monica.
Submitted by: Elsie Andreyev