Laguna’s newest coffee café: BLKdot

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Gosh it’s been so long since I wrote anything, I am sure I have a touch of writer’s block…but here goes.

I am back. Having had three months away from reporting on all the culinary delights Laguna Beach has to offer, I am pleased to say that once again I will be gracing the pages of Stu News Laguna with my thoughts and reports of all that is tasty in our wonderful town.

Where have you been? I hear you ask (or maybe not). Well, sadly, it appears I have turned into a true California girl and developed food allergies…“like, totally” real ones though.

Wheat and gluten top the list for me but there is also a lactose intolerance, which comes in a close second. As a self-confessed foodie, this news was pretty devastating, and my initial thoughts were “how do I carry on with my food reporting page?” I literally thought there would be no way I’d ever be able to eat out again. 

How wrong I was.

Laguna Beach has me covered, aside from a couple of places, which other staff writers will review. I have been pleasantly surprised by how accommodating chefs can be and how menus are figuring out how to change their menus to accommodate what I label myself – as one of “the allergics.”   

But don’t worry, I will also be reporting on the rest of the menu, but through the eyes and taste buds of the guest I take with me weekly (who I will ensure is not one of “the allergics”).

Anyway enough about me and where I’ve been, let’s carry on with the report.

I decided to ease in to this gently and this report saw me at the newest coffee hot spot in town: BLKdot Coffee.

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Latte

Located in North Laguna in what was previously Jean Paul’s, this coffee shop and café has been lovingly renovated, updated and restored. Aesthetically it is a contemporary, clean, cool, eatery in an area of town that I feel will really benefit from its presence. This is BLKdot coffee’s second location – its very successful flagship store is located in Irvine, and seeing the people already enjoying its location and vibe at 10:30 in the morning, I feel this place will be just as successful. 

The owner, Mai Tran, cheerfully greeted me. Mai hales from Newport, but having three daughters who have all been in the LBUSD she feels that Laguna has been more home to her than anywhere else.

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BLKdot Owner, Mai Tran

“I always wanted to open in Laguna Beach. My eldest daughter (now age 23 who works in the Laguna Beach location) was very keen to be here as an adult as she loved her school time here.” 

Like many people, finding a location in Laguna Beach proved to be a challenge but luckily for Mai this property became available in an area that has seen much activity, with the opening of many food establishments over the past 18 months (Reunion Kitchen + Drink, Asada, Jan’s, etc.), and also The Well fitness center, which is located next door. (Lets face it, after a workout we all need coffee.)

Joining me for my report was Stu News Publisher, Owner and dear friend Shaena, as we had some business to discuss and we needed a long overdue catch up.

I arrived at the location first and ordered a 16 oz. (BLKdot coffee serves 16 or 24 oz. cups) almond milk latte. One of the things I have struggled with since I had to remove lactose in milk from my diet is a nice creamy latte, as, more often than not, almond milk fails to give you that frothy creamy effect. However THIS latte was perfect! The almond milk was creamy, it frothed, the barista made a pretty pattern… I was “stoked” (gosh, I sound more and more Californian) and the coffee itself was great.

BLKdot coffee roasts their own beans off site, but they are brought to the location fresh every morning. I asked Mai just how they make their almond milk seriously as creamy as a regular milky latte and she explained that the almond milk they source is a special barista type that they have spent years sourcing and locating and she, too, does not drink cows milk but missed the creamy latte texture. 

Mai then went onto tell me that they would soon be serving oat milk, which is gluten free and vegan, and has even creamier texture (more on this later).

Shaena (who is not an allergic) ordered a 16 oz. vanilla latte with non-fat milk, which she said was delicious also.

It was then time to order food.  And I couldn’t wait! 

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BLKdot has delicious pastries, including this guava and cheese one

BLKdot coffee offers a range of delicious pastries on display on the counter as well as some fresh pre-made (in house) salads for those on the run, who need something quick. But they also have a breakfast and lunch menu, which, Mai tells me, is still a work in progress, although I personally think it’s just enough.

There are four breakfast choices and five lunchtime choices – all sounded delicious and it was difficult to choose.

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Avocado Boat

As it was 11:30 in the morning, I decided to choose from the breakfast menu and went for the Avocado Boat, which was half an avocado with a scoop of tuna, topped with bacon (optional) and pepper. This was so simple yet so incredibly tasty, very healthy and perfect for little miss allergic, i.e. me.

Shaena, who had probably already run 10 miles before our meeting, went for one of the sandwiches on the lunch menu. She chose the Asian inspired Chicken Banh Mi; perfectly cooked chicken breast served on a French roll with a spicy mayo, cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, and jalapeño. I could not try this, but, wow, it looked spectacular. 

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Chicken Banh Mi

At the time of my visit, Mai was sourcing the perfect gluten free bread. She is hoping to add gluten free as an option to all of her sandwiches shortly.

As an extra treat Mai brought out the Avocado Toast, which looked amazing, and, as it wasn’t on Gluten free bread, I took it home for my family who all said it was amazing. 

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Avocado Toast

We both really enjoyed our food; it tasted fresh, clean and was well presented. 

As we were ready to leave, we couldn’t help but take a look in the pastry section and Mai very kindly gave us two pastries to try: a guava and cheese croissant and a peach Danish. I took mine home for my pastry-loving daughter who is still asking to go back and get more. 

Shaena inhaled hers after another workout and said it was amazing also. 

For me, this coffee shop will definitely become a regular haunt of mine, especially as I take a Pilates class opposite. The day after my review I popped in after class to try the oat milk latte and that was even better than the almond milk!

Great job, Mai and team – another excellent addition to Laguna Beach.

BLKdot Coffee   656 N. Coast Highway