Chino Hills, CA, USA: Platform 909

I have recently enjoyed some time in my hometown. Nearly three weeks of uninterrupted time has given me the chance to leisurely explore, and to find a new appreciation for my particular section of southern California.

On one particularly eventful day, I drove over to Chino Hills to visit Chino Hills State Park. In October, it happen to be 90 degrees, quite the unusually warm day to visit and hike around a park.

I enjoyed a nice breeze, some outstanding overlooks, and a short sweaty hike. It was a brief but beautiful visit. At its end, I really felt like something more than water, perhaps a good cup of coffee. Hello Google.

I had been researching local coffee shops since my arrival in southern California and I had stumbled upon Platform 909. It had peaked my interest but I hadn’t been close enough to make a stop. Turns out, it’s less than a mile from Chino Hills State Park!

Platform 909 is a Harry Potter-inspired coffee shop, which I did not realize until I entered it. For some reason I had focused on the 909 part, and fallen in love because this was my area code as a child. I just felt that it would be fun to go somewhere that was somehow honoring my original and specific Californian identity (someone from the 909).

Anyway, I walked in and was thrilled to see the sprinkles of Harry Potter decor. It made me think of Bad Owl, it made me feel like I had been transported to my other home: Las Vegas, Nevada.

The venue is relatively small, but there are plenty of options for seating (tall tables, small tables, a couple of cushioned chairs). The lighting is excellent, lots of natural light, which is my personal favorite. The parking is free and plentiful, which is important anywhere but certainly in southern California. Finally, the customer service is absolutely outstanding.

The woman answered all of my questions: they’ve only been open about a year, this is their only location, they serve tea along with coffee, and yes this a Harry Potter inspired place.

The barista also explained their Spanish latte.

Spanish Latte: coffee, condensed milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Not overly sweet, not as much as you’d think; great hot or iced.

I decided to go for it–I purchased an iced Spanish latte.

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It was delightful. The condensed milk was not overpowering, the drink had only a bit of sweetness. The cinnamon on top I immediately mixed into the drink, so when I was drinking I had hints of cinnamon here and there. The combination, the balance of condensed milk and coffee, was perfect for me. I had enough coffee and enough milk to enjoy my drink as well as get a dose of coffee/caffeine for the day.

If you’re in southern California, close to Chino Hills, make a stop at Platform 909, the coffee is magical.

On the Merits of Coffee Chains

  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
  • McDonald’s McCafe
  • Peet’s Coffee and Tea
  • Starbucks

You know them.

You know their logos.

You know their colors.

You know what to order.

I am a huge advocate of local coffee shops.

I travel and search for the best local coffee shops. It is within the family-owned business, within the truly local scene, that you get a more personalized experience. It feels like your business not only means more in these places, but it has the ability to do more. Finally, it’s in these venues that you can explore the culture of a community. Locals patron local venues.

That all being said, there is something truly wonderful about coffee chains. I will not promote these brands with the same pomp and circumstance as Mothership, or Sunrise, orĀ Affogato, but I will say that coffee chains are valuable and beautiful in their own right.

Coffee chains have standardized decor, menus, and processes, so you are quite guaranteed the same experience, and taste. Coffee chains are more likely to have drive-thrus, so you can keep yourself moving. Coffee chains are more likely to have rewards programs, so you can feel a little bit better about spending money on your morning cup of coffee. Coffee chains are by definition, everywhere–if I’m going to work, if I’m on vacation, or if I’m at my mom’s house, I know that there’s a preferred chain nearby–I know where I can get something I definitely like to drink.

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These chains, by being ubiquitous, give you options. If you love a particular drink, but dislike a barista, or the parking situation, or whatever about that particular store, you don’t have to give up that coffee drink you love–you just have to hop over to a different location to savor the same coffee in a better environment, which ultimately enhances the taste.

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There’s nothing wrong with a coffee chain.

I want to find the unknown location, the hidden gem, or the new hot-spot because it’s different and new. However, I do not condemn, or completely shun, coffee chains.

I like that there are certain places I am guaranteed to find wherever I go. That is security, and security feels good.

There’s no need to scour a menu or hope for a good recommendation or worry about the price. I know what I like, what I want, and how much it’s going to cost. That translates into even more security and comfort, even more of a good feeling.

What else is neat, arguably better, about coffee chains? Sometimes I find a new place and I think it’s only available to me for now, but then I discover it’s a chain within a specific region. That is an awesome surprise!

Places like Philz Coffee, Blue Bottle, and Dutch Bros. I originally thought were local gems have grown into, or been discovered to be, smaller chains. I don’t have to only be in *insert specific city* to patron this particularly awesome locale.

Smaller chains provide a measure of novelty as well as security–they may not be near me, but I’m traveling this summer and two of my favorite smaller chains, unavailable to me at home, are available during my travels and that’s exciting! If I want the comfort and assurance of great coffee, I already know where to go.

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Each coffee shop, even each chain, has its perks and pitfalls. So, there is always room to explore and grow as a coffee drinker.

For instance, seasonal drinks: I love when new drinks or season-based drinks come out. It’s something to look forward to, or crave, even if it’s just temporary. It’s a way for a coffee chain to entice me to them–above all others–for just a few months.

The merits of a coffee chain are plentiful, and it’s okay to go back and make sure that our preferred drink from *insert favorite chain* in Ontario, California is just as good in Henderson, Nevada.

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So I say go ahead and have your standardized, reliable cup–a cup you can get anywhere in case of an emergency. Enjoy the smaller chains, know you are special to live or be in a place where this brand has been established. When you travel, find comfort knowing that a big chain, or smaller chain, is available to you to fulfill your coffee needs. Relish in that feeling, enjoy that experience.

It is an amazingly secure and comfortable feeling created by a menu you know and trust. I can’t deny it, and that’s why coffee chains, big and small, are actually kinda magnificent.

Yes, coffee chains, you have my full love and support. Cheers to you!

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Thank you to all the coffee chains for giving us all something so dependable in our hectic lives.

 

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