received a postcard in the mail last week. “NOW OPEN” it stated, “ROSEBUD,” and underneath “COFFEE WITH A CAUSE.” Beneath this announcement was a more comprehensive paragraph that invited me to experience Pasadena’s newest neighborhood craft coffee shop. “At Rosebud,” it stated, “we pride ourselves on serving genuine craft coffee that helps change lives. By supporting Rosebud you help the future of homeless youth in the city of Pasadena. Together we can create change in our community.” Then it offered me the opportunity to treat a friend to a cup of coffee on them when I ordered one for myself.

Curiosity and the two-for-one deal got me over there pronto with my husband as friend of choice. The fact that Rosebud is only about a mile from our house, on the south side of Colorado Boulevard, just east of Roosevelt Avenue, and right across from our local Vons, made the trip easy. Street parking is free and there’s also a vast parking lot behind the block which accommodates Sun Works Tanning, Rosebud, Chirp and other adjoining businesses.

Upon entering, we found ourselves in an enormous, brightly lit space with white walls, high ceilings, polished concrete floors and simple contemporary beech wood tables and chairs with black-finish metal supports. A large doorway opens onto an equally large space to the east which also serves Chirp, a (mostly for kids) Karaoke Café that hosts parties, thus explaining a raised stage, multicolored kiddie furniture and assorted toys. The wall between the two areas has been opened elsewhere and replaced with low room dividing bars and bar stools that match the rest of the furniture. Despite the size of the dual area, Rosebud seems more spacious than cavernous, with lots of choice in seating.

Two friendly baristas greeted us from the counter along the west wall, above which a decorative light wood diptych lists the basics of Rosebud’s adult beverage menu, including coffee and tea variants, lavender lemonade, hot chocolate and Italian soda (all in the $2.75-$5 range) with kid cocoa and kid juice ($2). Abutting the counter is a small display case with Rosebud’s pastries: kolaches (stuffed yeast bread rolls), croissants, cookies and muffins (from $2 to $4).

If you’re looking for something more substantial, a printed menu lists three $8 salads: carne asada (marinated grilled beef, black beans, corn chips, tomato, jack cheese, avocado and spicy chipotle ranch dressing atop a leafy green and romaine mix), Chinese chicken (grilled chicken breast, roasted almonds, crunch noodles, green onion, cilantro, mandarin oranges and oriental dressing atop a cabbage and greens mix) and poirier (grilled chicken breast, sweet red onion, bleu cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette atop fresh greens).

There are also three $8 sandwiches available: Chipotle basil chicken (herb roll with grilled chicken, chipotle mayo, basil, lettuce, provolone cheese, tomato and onion), turkey and cranberry (honey oat wheat loaf with sliced turkey, cranberry spread and leafy greens) and chicken caesar wrap (seasoned grilled chicken breast, sliced and served with grated parmesan and caesar dressing). Granola is $5 with milk, $6 with Straus organic whole milk yogurt. And kids can fill up with apple sauce, string cheese, goldfish crackers or a variety of fruit snacks (each $1).

We ordered two of the kolaches, served warm, one stuffed with spicy polish sausage, gooey cheddar cheese and slices of relatively mild jalapeno pepper, the other filled with divine cookie butter and chocolate (each $4). We also sampled the turkey/cranberry sandwich which notwithstanding thin-sliced, pre-packaged meat was absolutely delicious and included a light layer of unadvertised but welcome pesto mayo.

Most of the food items are catered by Rosebud from other providers. The kolaches come from Morning Boys (two brothers, Mark and James Morales, originally from Texas, who deliver their home-baked goodies throughout greater LA) and almost all the rest from Hope Catering, only a few blocks away on Foothill Boulevard. Hope’s motto is “Help One Person Everyday” and, like Rosebud Coffee and its parent Rose City Coffee (at the northeast corner of Del Mar Boulevard and Allen Avenue, at the Rose City Church), its dual mission is to provide excellent food and drink for its customers while working with the “at risk” population, teaching vocational skills and work habits that will help make them employable.

Hope’s website states their goal of providing “a workplace environment that extends ‘Hope’ to those who have been the outcast, the outsourced, and the overlooked … that reaches out and helps those in need, & connects & encourages our clients to do the same.” And the website of Wild Goose Coffee Roasters in Redlands, the purveyors of Rosebud’s fair-sourced coffees, tells a similar story. They partner local cafes with local food banks, and have committed to providing 10 pounds of food for every pound of coffee they sell.

So there you have it. Rosebud Coffee on its face is a great place to linger over an outstanding cup of Joe and a delicious light breakfast or lunch. But as its subtext states, Rosebud is providing coffee with a cause. Its creators, sponsors, providers and employees are all working for the betterment of those who need it most. I don’t know any more persuasive argument to cause you to make Rosebud Coffee one of your most frequent haunts, except perhaps their hot chocolate. Prepared from a syrup of bitter chocolate and brown sugar ($4), one sip is guaranteed to create a permanent craving. 

Rosebud Coffee

2302 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena  | (626) 817-3461 | Major Cards/No Alcohol