Isla Vista residents longing to dip a donut in their morning cup o’ joe can find relief thanks to I.V.’s newest addition, Coffee Cups.

The coffee and doughnut shop, located at Embarcadero del Norte and Pardall Road, opened its doors Dec. 3. Though closed over Winter Break, Coffee Cups reopened in early January to offer I.V. residents a menu featuring specialty coffees, doughnuts, smoothies, fresh pastries and ice cream from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Owners Tom Leu and Brigitte Forest purchased the space from its previous occupant, ice cream shop Food Express. Leu said Coffee Cups is doing well despite being the third coffee shop within one block of the intersection of Pardall and Embarcadero del Norte.

“We sell a lot of coffee in the mornings,” Leu said. “Then when the bagel shop closes down at 2 or 3 [p.m.] we start getting requests for bagels… and in the evenings, girls like ice cream.”

Leu said the variety of products offered in combination with its long hours have been helpful in generating business.

“We have things that neither of [the nearby competitors have], and they have things that we don’t have,” Leu said. “It’s a different concept from Starbucks or Java Jones.”
Leu and Forest were both Santa Barbara residents looking to go into business together when the opportunity arose to open up a coffee shop in I.V. Prior to the opening of Coffee Cups, Leu was a real estate broker and involved in several other small businesses, including a 7-11 and an art store. Forest is an artist whose oil paintings now adorn the walls of the store. When they noticed that Food Express was not generating much business, they made an offer on the space and then began the transformation.

“I had read that a coffee shop is one of the more fun things to operate, so it seemed like a good idea, and it gives a lot of flexibility,” Leu said.

Leu said when the space opened up he realized no place in I.V. sold ice cream and doughnuts, which he said seemed like a good idea for the area. Coffee Cups is also relying on its fresh pastries and “top of the line” coffee machines to draw customers. The business is modeled after coffee, juice and pastry shops.

“It’s like one-stop shopping,” Leu said.

Steve Molina, a fourth-year history major, said he frequents Coffee Cups because the shop offers doughnuts to a needy public.

“I came to check out the doughnuts because the other places suck,” Molina said. “I was looking for a good doughnut around here.” Jan Villalon, a second-year film and global studies major, said the convenient location and ambiance were the most attractive aspects of the shop.

“I actually started coming here because it’s a lot closer to my house,” Villalon said. “But also the people here are really nice… and I really like their croissants.”

Java Jones’ owner, Kara Wall, was not concerned for her business, despite never having visited Coffee Cups. She said she was more concerned for the survival of the new store.

“I wish them the best of luck,” Wall said. “I think they’re probably going to a have a rough time of it though with two places already established in a really small area.”