Starbucking it Idyllwild Style

I recently left behind the big city, moving to a small mountain community in Southern California.

That has no Starbucks.


As a freelance writer, Starbucks is my alter-office.  So, now what was I going to do?

The answer: make a run for Higher Grounds.

Yes, yet another independent coffee shop with a pun for a title.  But this one is forgivable, since the town of Idyllwild – population 3,500 – is indeed quite high – about 5,300’ elevation.

And “grounds” – well, that part of the pun is self-explanatory.  Leastways, I’m not going to explain it.

Frankly, this mile-high coffee shop has Starbucks beat cold.  For starters, it’s got a cozy, eclectic feel to the place, beginning with it’s artsy exterior and its high-mountain backdrop…

2013-01-28 Idyllwild HigherGrnds ext

…and continuing that theme to its lofty (that’s art-speak for high, open-timbered ceiling) interior…

2013-01-28 Idyllwild HigherGrnds int. a

…and lots of comfortable seating:

2013-01-28 Idyllwild HigherGrnds int. b

Also nice: the flavor of the place is consistent with the rustic, woodsy atmosphere of the entire town.

The clientele is a fascinating mix of tourists – especially on weekends – and locals, who are a bizarre mix unto themselves.   Idyllwild is home (or second home) to many of Southern California’s rich and famous, but it’s also an artists’ community and a magnet for hippies and hikers.  Not to mention a few homeless and crazies, which will no doubt provide excellent fodder for future posts.

Most important – the coffee rocks.  Even the drip coffees, since they roast their own.  And the barista’s do it up right, giving the frothy espresso drinks the right strength and the right kind of artistry in the frothing and pouring.

Not much to eat here though.  And no shades for the big picture windows, which makes the easy chairs hard to enjoy with a laptop from noon on, if it’s a sunny day.

But considering how small a town this is, I’m pleased as punch to find good coffee and good atmosphere.

To quote Annie from the musical of the same name, “I think I’m gonna like it here.”


About MOGBlogger

Trail runner, writer, director, squeezing the most I can from the juice of every day.
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8 Responses to Starbucking it Idyllwild Style

  1. Gwen says:

    You really are making me fall in love with the place. Idyllwild seems too good to be true. Can’t wait to see it for myself!

    • MOGBlogger says:

      it takes some getting used to, the small mountain town thing (nearest Costco is over an hour away, for instance), but a good coffee shop sure makes a place more pleasant, Gwen. 🙂

  2. And it’s great that you can support a local business instead of $tarbucks!

    • MOGBlogger says:

      Wait a sec… last I checked, didn’t your son work at a Starbucks? For his sake, wouldn’t you *want* me to support Starbucks? LOL. But, yes, i make a point of buying local whenever it makes sense. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Caryn says:

    Hi there, I just wanted to say hello and welcome you to the neighborhood. I hope you’re still enjoying our beautiful, if somewhat eccentric, little town. Looking forward to reading more from you. 🙂

    • MOGBlogger says:

      Thanks for the welcome, fellow Idyllwilder! 🙂 Yes, the honeymoon with the community is over, and I’m still loving it, hiking and running its trails and dirt roads nearly every day. What’s not to like? I can’t figure out how it’s stayed so quaint. Your photography blog is beautiful, by the way. Folks, check it out at

      • Caryn says:

        Wow, thank you! You are too kind. And, yes, if you’re an avid hiker you have definitely come to the right place. I’m relatively new here myself (two years in April) and I absolutely love it. 🙂

  4. MOGBlogger says:

    For you or any other Idyllwild fans, here’s the blogs and photos of my trail running exploits: Since I moved to Idyllwild Dec. 31, I’ve yet to repeat a single trail, as i intentionally try to broaden my knowledge of the trails.

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