Alas, as a writer what can I do but write about coffee shops! Since moving downtown from Orange crest I’ve happened upon Back to the Grind. Well, not quite. I knew it was there before, but I had yet to try it. In desperation to find a coffee alternative to what seems the only remaining coffee shop in Riverside-Starbucks- I visited Back to the Grind, and quickly left. I believe I stopped by at night, and it night it can get weird here. But on to a more formal introduction.
Back to the Grind is owned by the ever pleasant Darren. I have yet to enter the establishment when he is at the counter without being greeted by a hello lovely, or an equally flowery greeting. If Darren was at the counter everyday, there would be no complaints. Most often, and especially if you come at night you will be greeted by a much more stern and stocky female, whose name evades me.
I have read endless complaints on review websites specifically directed at this woman and her lackluster customer service skills, so when I entered the establishment, I tried a different approach. I greeted her first, with my best smile and a how are you, and to my surprise she was equally friendly and happy to offer a beverage recommendation. However, based on personal experience if you don’t offer that greeting, be prepared for her to stare you up and down until you ask if you can order.
Other characters serving the establishment include a couple friendly college kids and a handsome bald, tattooed guy who I can’t yet read.
Back to the Grind has created such a unique community that if you are not a misfit, you probably won’t feel welcome here. Tattooed, indie, hipster, bald, homeless, you will feel especially welcome here. But the even more unusual thing is that the occasional business man and loads of student groups come in here seemingly unfazed by the dim lighting, new age decor or absence of that sleek coffee shop flair.
Back to the grind serves up coffee, a bevy of food including BBQ Chicken Pizza and Gelato and also unique drinks like the Thai Iced Tea, my current addiction.
Back to the Grind is an eclectic mix that’s hard to describe. I somehow enjoy it. It’s a great place for people watching, which I often find myself doing instead of writing. Visit at your own risk-at night the characters get a bit more sketchy.