Usually in the past my reviews have been of individual drinks. Today I’m doing something a little different, though. Today you get a review of an entire coffeeshop, because I’ve enjoyed their drinks so much I feel like it’s only right.
Massetti Caffé Mobilé is a mobile cart-style coffeeshop located in the Corporate Center plaza on Lake street in Pasadena. I passed by it many times without trying it, because let’s be honest — coffee carts, especially those catering to the white collar office tower crowd, are rarely anything to write home about. I’ve had drinks from many carts, from college campuses to airports to venue lobbies, and they’ve all fallen into the “drinkable but not amazing” category. Another reason I often passed without partaking is that this particular cart is located just a couple blocks from two Starbuckses, a root beer float shop, an independent coffeeshop, a bookstore with a cafe, and a whole slew of restaurants. When I’m in that area, my beverage needs are never wanting.
One day, I found myself near Massetti while it was open and I thought, “What the hell, I should at least give them a shot.” And man am I glad I did.
Massetti offers a wide range of coffee and tea drinks, including some that are hard to find elsewhere — such as cold-brewed coffee and a shaken espresso drink called the Shakerato. They have some pastries and paninis, plus a few types of soda if you’re not in the mood for coffee or tea. Their beans are roasted locally at Jones Coffee Roasters. Various types of milk are available, including soy milk; brewed tea is served with pyramid-shaped tea bags. They’ve got something for pretty much everybody.
The service is excellent. There’s often just one person taking orders and making drinks, so your drink will not appear at the speed of light, but it is absolutely worth the wait. Each drink is made fresh in front of you with care, and the barista will be happy to chat with you and answer any questions you have. They can always recommend you a drink to try if you can’t make up your mind. As I sit here typing this review on a bright, warm Friday afternoon, I can tell from the conversations the barista is having with various people walking by that this is a coffeeshop with many devoted regular customers. Little details like that can take a coffeeshop experience to a whole new level.
Every drink I have tried here has been delicious. The prices are a little higher than Starbucks but the quality is absolutely worth it. Here’s a few things I recommend:
Vanilla latte: When I try a new coffee place, this is usually the “test drink” I get. It’s like ordering pad thai at a Thai restaurant — if they screw it up, the place is no good. Massetti passed this test with flying colors; the latte was smooth, with just the right amount of vanilla, and really good foam. Unlike Starbucks, which has switched to push-button automatic espresso machines due to the sheer volume of drinks they make, Massetti uses a good ol’ La Marzocco, so pulling a good shot and steaming a good pitcher of milk take a certain amount of practice and skill. A good latte is a sign of a good barista.
Cold brew: Cold-brewed coffee is brewed overnight in a fridge, instead of quickly with hot water in a machine or press. This results in a strong, less acidic cup of iced coffee that really hits the spot. I’m usually not big on cold coffee drinks, even in hot summer weather, but this is one drink I’ll make an exception for. In the picture you see a cold brew as I drink it — unsweetened and topped off with some half-and-half. It normally has more ice in it, but since it’s over 90 degrees F today and nobody remembered to tell the barista to bring extra ice on his way in, this is the last ice he had. Operating a cart rather than a full brick-and-mortar store does have its limitations.
Chai latte: This is available in two versions, sweet and spicy. The spicy version (that’s spicy as in regular chai spices, not as in peppers) is still somewhat sweet, and it’s the version I prefer. The flavor comes from powder, but it’s not as artificial-tasting as a lot of chai powders. It’s mixed with milk that’s steamed to about 140 or 150 F, so not too hot. Definitely tastes more like spices than like tea, but overall it’s a delicious drink. If you need an extra kick of caffeine, try the dirty chai — this is a chai latte with a shot of espresso.
- What: Massetti Caffé Mobilé
- Where: 251 South Lake in Pasadena, CA
- Website: http://www.massettiespresso.com/
- Serves: Wide variety of coffee, espresso, and tea drinks
- Verdict: Well-made drinks and knowledgeable baristas, highly recommended