Community Staple

Photos by Kamala Kirk

A South Pasadena staple since 1993, Kaldi Coffee & Tea was purchased from its original owner, Cindy Ginter, in 2011 by San Fernando Valley residents and coffee enthusiasts Chanho Park and Susan Park. Chanho was a retired banker and Susan worked as a paralegal, and together the couple decided to try their hand at running a coffee shop together —which has proved to be a huge success.

“We kept the overall set-up and space the same,” Susan said. “We wanted to retain the vintage look, as our customers love the old-fashioned feel and comfortable environment here. We did make some changes, such as getting our coffee from a new supplier and adding more drinks and food items to our menu.”

After tasting coffee from numerous sources, the Parks chose The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa in Culver City as their supplier. One of Kaldi’s most popular drinks is the Dos Leches, which is made with condensed milk, espresso, cinnamon and frothed milk. For the fall, customers enjoy seasonal drinks such as the pumpkin-spiced chai latte, caramel spiced cider and honey-cinnamon latte.

“About two years ago I started making a homemade mint syrup,” said Susan. “It has become very popular among our customers. It has just the right amount of sweetness. The mint and coffee pair very well together.”

Kaldi also has fresh pastries delivered every morning to the shop and the food is made to order. Customer favorites include the tuna salad sandwich, which Susan makes herself, the avocado toast and the veggie panini — which has lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumber, pepper jack cheese, and pesto sauce or olive tapenade spread.

Kaldi’s walls currently feature art by local South Pasadena artist Jimi Martinez, who is also a regular at the coffee shop.

“Jimi is here every day and he always gets the same drink,” Susan shared. “I would see him working on his drawings and I was blown away by his talent. Currently our walls feature art by him and his students.”

Located at corner of El Centro Street and Diamond Avenue, Kaldi is right in the middle of the weekly Farmers’ Market on Thursdays and also participates in Arts Crawl events. After school, students from the local middle and high schools come by to hang out and do homework, and customers enjoy curling up with their laptops on the comfy couch inside or chatting with friends at the sidewalk tables.

“My husband and I are both passionate about coffee and enjoy owning this business,” said Susan. “Our coffee shop is a home away from home for many, and some people find that they can get more work done here than at home. We’re very blessed to be in this great location and community with such wonderful customers.”

Kaldi Coffee & Tea is located at 1019 El Centro St. in South Pasadena. It is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (626) 403-5951.

Kaldi Coffee & Tea Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 11.1.19. Support Local Business.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).