Be glad there’s one place in the world
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
And they’re always glad you came
You wanna go where people know
People are all the same
You wanna go
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
In the 1980s if a friend told you that she had found a great place to drink and that “it’s just like Cheers!” then you knew that she had found the ultimate neighborhood bar; a place where anyone can walk in, order a drink, and feel like they were visiting family.
Fast forward twenty years and now these days (at least for me) the search is always on for the ultimate neighborhood coffee house. The Sweet Bean is it. It’s the oldest coffee shop in Temecula and is going stronger than ever. You’ll definitely feel welcome when owner Debbie Johnson and her friendly employees greet you as an old friend.
Some customers really are old friends. Debbie bought the twenty-year-old coffee house six years ago and almost half of her customers are the original clientele – coffee lovers who have been coming regularly for two decades. Debbie had worked as a substitute teacher for over a decade before deciding to own a cafe. “It was quite the leap,” she says. “But it played into this well. I love people and kids. It’s a fun business and I still get to deal with people and kids.”
What’s great about independent coffee shops, besides the friendly atmosphere, is that they’re not tied into specific drinks dictated by some corporate office. (Like, you know, at that “S” place.) So in addition to the regular lattes and cappuccinos, The Sweet Bean offers a huge array of very unique alternatives. On your first visit, you’ll spend at least five minutes just perusing the drink menu, chuckling over the drink names and just trying to decide between all the wonderful choices. Their “Sticky Fingers” mocha, laden with caramel and hazelnut, is decadently rich and one of the best grown-up hot chocolates I’ve had in a long time. The VW Bug, so named for its White mocha and Vanilla syrup (get it?) is also really popular. Or you just might prefer their Raspberry Cream made from espresso and dark Ghirardelli chocolate. Perhaps you’re in the mood for fewer calories? Then try the Sugar Free Ice Blended Mocha dusted with espresso powder. One sip and you’ll completely forget that it’s sugar free.
Do you also like to brew sweet coffee at home? Then a visit to the Sweet Bean is in order because it’s the only independent coffee house in the area that sells flavored coffee beans. They have thirteen different flavors and popular choices include Snicker Doodle (cinnamon, hazelnut, vanilla), Butterscotch (which they say tastes just like the candy), Coffee Crunch (a nutty flavor) and Coconut (which is as you would think – coffee with coconut flavoring).
There’s also a large choice of seasonal flavored beans which include Winter Frost (a hazel nut coffee bean rolled in white cocoa powder) and Frosty’s Favorite (a butter cream and cinnamon combo). While I was there they happened to have a pot of Winter Wonderland brewing as the coffee-of-the-day, so of course I tried a cup. The hazelnut, white chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon flavors made a delicious, cozy cup of coffee – one that I can just imagine sipping by a warm fire.
But it’s not just the coffee that’s sweet here. Their huge selection of eighteen flavors of Dreyer’s ice cream runs along one entire wall. You can order by the scoop or go all out with a mega-sized sundae. In addition to ice cream, you can get ice-blended lemonade “chillers” and fruit smoothies. I just had to try their peach smoothie and it reminded me of biting into a sweet, summer peach picked at just the perfect ripeness.
If you’re more in the mood for lunch, you’re also in luck. They just started selling sandwiches four months ago and they’ve become very popular. Each sandwich features a quarter pound of Boars Head meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and a peppery gourmet sauce that makes these sandwiches unique. You can choose to have the sandwich with chips or – ready for the sweet alternative? – crisp apples dusted with cinnamon and drizzled with caramel sauce. You’ll find that these apple slices are the perfect accompaniment to the thick, flavorful sandwiches.
Having a party? Debbie and her crew can whip up vegetable, fruit, or sandwich trays to share with your friends.
But whatever reason you decide to visit, if you take a moment to look around you’ll see that the décor is what makes The Sweet Bean a true neighborhood coffee shop. Debbie enjoys holding coloring contests for the kids who come in, and their colorful drawings adorn the walls. She also assigns art projects to her employees, and their work is also on display
Since Debbie worked as a teacher for so many years, she enjoys giving back to the local schools as much as she can. She holds “scoop nights” where 20 percent of the proceeds are donated back and she has booths at school October Fests. She offers discounted coffee air pots for teacher conferences and other events, and provides sandwich trays for teachers’ lunches on modified school days. “Anything they need, we do it,” Debbie says. “I love the schools.” I am sure they love her and The Sweet Bean back.
The Sweet Bean is located at 30590 Rancho California Road, #302, Temecula, CA 92591 in the Palomar Village Shopping Center @ Margarita. 951-699-8443.