Need A Caffeine Boost for Finals? Check Out the Last Drop Cafe

It gives me a rush. Makes my heart beat faster. Pupils dilate. If you think it sounds like I’m either addicted to a drug or in love (or maybe both: I heard from Ke$ha that love can be classified as a drug), you’d be right. My addiction of choice, however, is not the illegal kind; quite the contrary, it’s one of America’s most popular cravings, especially among exhausted college students accustomed to all-nighters: caffeine. To say I’m picky about my coffee is almost an understatement. I have been known to drive an hour into the city of Chicago just for a decent cup of Joe and even wrote my college application essay on the topic of my caffeine of choice. Rather than face another burned espresso from Fivebucks  – er, Starbucks – or singlehandedly reverse the recession through my frequent support of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, I settled for dining hall tea and coffee as soon as my flex ran out. That is, until I discovered the charming, cheap, and convenient Last Drop Café.

Close enough for an enjoyable walk or bike ride but not so close that you feel guilty about driving, the Last Drop Café is located just a few blocks away from Pomona’s campus on Harvard Avenue among many of the village’s quaint and sometimes quirky shops. Keeping with the small-town vibe, the café itself isn’t very large – just 4 or 5 small tables inside – but its décor offers interesting photographs, up-to-date interest magazines, and some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered to keep you entertained while you wait for your perfectly crafted order.

Ordering itself can be the hardest part when over 5 different kinds of fresh brewed coffee and more than 15 different tea flavors are available, not to mention flavorings and milk substitutes galore. Navigating the menu is a daunting task, so I advise newcomers to ask the barista for suggestions – the coffee I was directed to, Vanilla Vanilla, didn’t disappoint (and neither did the price –a small costs only $1.75). I enjoyed a slightly sweet blend of French Vanilla coffee with Vanilla creamer that held a surprisingly smooth finish. Charbucks  Starbucks lovers, get ready: your taste buds have been trained to expect the bitterness of burnt beans masked by 500 calories of sweetness that you will not find here. If it is sweetened supercaffiene you crave, the Mike’s Special is a tantalizing alternative to an energy drink. As a Yelp! reviewer accurately describes it, “the Mike's Special is a layered espresso drink that has three different flavor profiles and three different temperatures.”  All this with the added kick of a massive dose of caffeine – one cup of this is equivalent to three cups of coffee – this super-drink promises to tease your tastebuds and keep you wired for hours. The layers of caramel, cream, vanilla, chocolate, Irish cream and espresso, are really something you have to experience for yourself. For less than $4, it’s more than worth it. Perfect with finals quickly approaching and flex for the Motley running out…

If you decide to spend a few hours at the Last Drop taking advantage of their free wifi to watch funny YouTube videos study, you may find yourself tempted to try an interesting soup-sandwich combo. Give in and indulge: the make-your-own roast beef sandwich is fresh and includes generous fixings, and the soups taste homemade, and has a vaguely spiced with the aftertaste of the French onion. Pair it with a vegan banana chocolate chip cookie (sound familiar? Last Drop is where the Motley gets their batch) and you’ve got a fully fulfilling meal for under $10. A variety of bread options gives the food menu, too, virtually limitless possibilities, bringing you back to try different combinations. Speaking of combinations, I’ve heard the amusing blend involved in the avocado banana smoothie is something you must try, simply for the novelty if for nothing else....

If this doesn’t pique your interest, stop in and have a chat with Mike, the owner. Another friendly village shop owner, he knows most of the regulars by name and order and will happily describe to you how his coffee, smoothies, soups and sandwiches are all lovingly prepared daily. If nothing else, he’s a great guy and sympathetic to listening to you vent about finals. That being said, it might take a while for you to make your way to the cash register if there’s a long line since the staff takes their time to take care of each individual customer, but it’s well worth the wait.

Out of 5 stars, I’d easily give the Last Drop a 5.  Yelp! agrees. You can’t find a place like this anywhere else in the Claremont area.

The Last Drop Café is located in the village at 119 Harvard Avenue. It is open Monday through Saturday at 7:00am and Sunday at 8:00am.

All photos are from the Last Drop Café's Facebook page.