Sunrise cues the rhythm of the day and rouses sleepers, while Solvang’s Rhythms Coffee offers a different kind of stimulation. Open every morning at 6:30, this neighborhood coffee house serves up energizing drinks and thick smoothies amid the irresistible beat of jazz music.
Proprietor David Esdaile, a working percussionist and former publican who once owned the Solvang Trolley, revels in the early morning hours.
“I’ve always been an early riser,” Esdaile says. “I managed the Firestone Walker brewery bar for seven years, and that was a lot of late nights. I like this better.”
Esdaile, a native of England, became a barista when he opened Rhythms Coffee (formerly Dangerish Smoothie and Coffee Co.) in April 2008. More of a tea man himself, he jumped at the business opportunity when his java-savvy wife, Caroline, assured him the shop’s product was top quality.
“I’ve had customers buy coffee and come back to tell me how good it is,” Esdaile says. “My smoothies are delicious, too, because they’re 100% fruit, and there’s no added sugar or anything. I use a fruit puree base and then add banana or maybe freshly squeezed orange juice.
“Of course it depends on the weather,” he smiles. “If it’s hot, then smoothies or blended coffees go down really well, but if it’s cold, then the hot espresso drinks are popular.”
As a service to area businesses and hotels, Esdaile even delivers his coffee—a selection of four different roasts—as well as muffins and pastries.
Esdaile recently launched the Mug Club, a perk—excuse the pun— for regular customers that he hopes will curb paper waste. For a one-time fee, members get a Rhythms Coffee travel cup, as well as 15% off the price of all drinks and shop merchandise.
“It’s good for the environment,” Esdaile says. “It bothers me that everything I sell is to-go, and all those paper and plastic cups get thrown away.
“If people buy a mug,” he adds, “they can bring it back and re-use it, and that’s a lot better.”
Customers heading into Rhythms Coffee for fresh joe, smoothies and fruit juice find smiling staffers and a consistently friendly atmosphere.
“I make sure everybody feels welcome and is happy when they leave,” Esdaile declares. “I’ve always done that, in the bar and on the streetcar, as well. I tell my staff the number one rule is to smile. It doesn’t cost anything and everybody enjoys a nice smile.”
Inside Rhythms Coffee, musical instruments adorn the walls and jazz music fills the air. Outside, locals and travelers linger at tables, sipping high-test and non-caffeinated treats, happy to simply visit and take in the day.
“My wife and I have been in the Valley 23 years,” Esdaile says. “It’s a fun place to be and this is a fun business to be in. It’s almost like being on vacation every day!”