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‘Chillax’ at Kettle Coffee & Tea

You’re a hard-working college student dealing with pressures from work, personal life and your nagging professors. The last thing you need is the guilt that lingers after caffeinating in an attempt to keep yourself awake.

From Acai bowls, to Yerba Mate Maple Lattes, a local coffee shop named Kettle Coffee and Tea located in Escondido integrates healthy ways to enjoy caffeinated products.

“We make all of our seasonal drinks,” Owner Tricia Howerzyl said, “and we don’t do fraps because you can’t make those without putting all sorts of horrible things in them.”

You pull open the black-framed door and step into an ambiance of irresistible charm inviting you to pull up a chair and sip your choice of caffeine slowly.

The shop itself has had many owners, previously known as “His Place,” “Lollicup” and “Escondido Joe’s,” but now is home for many customers as well as Howerzyl.

Howerzyl and her husband had a thirst for good coffee, a place that offers quality espresso, along with a nice place to sit and sip from their cups slowly. The only quench for this thirst, was to purchase a place of their own.

“My husband and I are both coffee lovers and good espresso was non existent,” Howerzyl said.

The shop is located on fairly busy Grand Avenue in downtown Escondido, where the sense of community is strong. Keeping Kettle Coffee and Tea busy with employees of those local businesses, students from the Catholic School around the corner, and even some Palomar College students.

“It’s the environment,” Shane Nelson, a literature and writing major, said. “It’s welcoming, and to come here and to either meet with friends or to do homework, is very different from Palomar’s TLC.”

When asked why it was easier to study outside of Palomar, Nelson said there was an “overwhelming burden, to study.” With Anna Kohler, a human development major, nodding her head in agreement next to him.

Like Nelson and Kohler, many college students come to Kettle Coffee and Tea for the generous additional private room that it offers located directly next to the espresso machine, as well as the open mic nights.

“Open mic nights are huge here,” Howerzyl said. “The room is packed every Thursday Night (with an audience) and the list of performers fills up in 10 minutes or less.”

The coffee shop extends its welcome to an array of slam poets, singer-songwriters and even the rare comedian.

The strong sense of community is felt, especially as Howerzyl waves and smiles with a familiar glance as customers come in and out. This community is also implemented through their distributor, Klatch.

“Klatch is great,” Howerzyl said. “They’ve been roasting for about 20 years, and have won things such as Best Roaster Award and they’re a family operation.”

Klatch Roasters is also a fair trade roaster, meaning they pay an appropriate amount to the coffee growers, and are not making an absurd profit off of someone else’s work.

With the shop using a distributor such as Klatch, it assures the customers that they are not in the coffee business for the money, but rather for what coffee is able to do in bringing people together.

“I really strongly believe that if we as a society can view coffee as something that is valuable, or something more valuable than we see it now, more than just a 7-11 quick drink … (then) the people that grow coffee will be paid a decent wage eventually,” Howerzyl said.

Howerzyl’s providential care for her customers doesn’t stop at the open mics, and fair trade, but continues through her concern for making the drinks with ingredients that cater to the health of her consumers.

“If you go to a place and ask for a matcha green tea latte, they’ll use a powder that has a non dairy creamer in it, they’ll put tons of horrible things in it,” Howerzyl said. “We use straight up ceremonial green matcha tea, and milk. Our mochas we make from scratch. We buy the cocoa powders, with powdered sugar and milk. We don’t buy pre-made powders.”

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