Coffee with a splash of steampunk

Caffè Caldo mixes the talents of chef Corrado Gianotti and coffee expert Josh Islas with new Victorian-ish fashion.

December 04, 2012|By Andrew Shortall
  • Richard Freeland is the owner of Caffé Caldo in Huntington Beach.
Richard Freeland is the owner of Caffé Caldo in Huntington… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Caffè Caldo has a lot to say in its name.

There's no secret where Huntington Beach's new restaurant/espresso bar's roots lie with the two Italian words, including the traditional spelling of cafè. There's dual meaning to caldo, which is Italian for heat and refers to the establishment's steampunk influences in design and coffee.

Caffè Caldo's resident coffee expert Josh Islas defines steampunk as style inspired by "Victorian era sci-fi."

"I think the steampunk kind of feel resonates and intrigues a lot of people," said Islas, a Costa Mesa resident.

According to a Caffè Caldo press release, "steampunk is an inspired movement of creativity and imagination" that includes fashion, art and design that's fueled by the writing of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and outdated machines and contraptions that might have been made during Victorian England or America's Old West.

When it comes to coffee, steampunk can refer to Caffè Caldo steaming milk for cappuccinos, lattes and how baristas can draw on steamed milk to create latte art, which has become increasingly popular in the coffee world.


Formerly Mr. P's Espresso Italiano Caffè, Caffè Caldo (21070 Beach Blvd.) debuted in August under new owner and Costa Mesa resident Rich Freeland, who took over the location for his cousin's former husband when he fell behind in payments.

Huntington Beach resident Lorie Pagels has become a bit of a regular at Caffè Caldo since first visiting it during a morning walk in August. She returned two more times that day and raves about the food, coffee, ambience and service.

"It's little and it's very community," Pagels said of its appeal. "You just come in and everyone is friendly."

Freeland believes in applying some tender love and care to everything at his new business, from its coffee to its food, decor and customer service.

"I feel that we are always going to put out a good product," Freeland said. "I want to have a reputation where people say this place is the best in this or that; that's one of the things I am striving for, just a sense of pride."

With its steampunk and Italian influences and espresso bar/restaurant offerings, Freeland's establishment has a bit of a split personality. It's coffee in the front and a small, carved out dining area, which sits less than 20 people in the back, for authentic Italian food cooked up by chef Corrado Gianotti in the back.

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