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Pasadena’s Arts + Science Cafe Quietly Serves One of Chicago’s Most Influential Coffees

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How did the military latte end up on a side street not far from Cal Tech?

Art & Science Cafe, Pasadena
Farley Elliott
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

You’d be forgiven for not having immediately heard of the new Art + Science Cafe in Pasadena. The unassuming shop is off the main drag, east of Old Pasadena but west of Lake Avenue’s shops and Cal Tech beyond. Yet there it is, hidden down a side street near competitor Urth Caffe, serving their version of one of Chicago’s most talked-about coffee concoctions.

The drink in question is a bright green beverage known colloquially as the military latte. It’s a double-shot espresso and matcha mash-up that comes with vanilla syrup, and is a showcase item at the endlessly popular Sawada Coffee in Chicago. It’s a latte that has been made rather famous by the shop’s namesake, Hiroshi Sawada, a well-known personality in Japanese coffee and a world latte art champion.

And yet here the drink is, served on the brick patio of this simple West Coast space. The military latte here offers quite the same look, and based on recent experience actually nails the flavor of Sawada’s version too. Beyond that bright green drink you’ll also find regular espresso options, drip coffee, extras like hot chocolate, and yes, avocado toast.

Seung Lee runs Art + Science Cafe, and says he’s been a part of the Chicago coffee movement for a while, working behind the scenes at Sawada as well as retro-inspired Wormhole Coffee. His new venture is totally independent of those venues though, despite the overlap of that military latte. An email in to the Sawada team about Lee didn’t reveal much (they actually claim not to be familiar with him), but nonetheless the drink remains.

So now’s your chance to try the famed military latte for yourself, albeit without the quite-so-direct Chicago connection. As far as West Coast replacements go Art + Science is a more than suitable stand-in — you’ll just have to duck down some Pasadena side streets to find it.

Art + Science Cafe
101 S. Madison Ave.
Pasadena, CA