In the Claremont Packing House, located on the southwest corner of the village of West First street, lies one of the city’s hidden gems. Right as you enter the building’s front doors, the aroma of fresh coffee beans immediately fills the air, displaying the rustic yet inviting coffee shop, Iron and Kin.
Noted for its specifically curated “affirmation lattes” and healthy bites, Iron and Kin also fosters an open space for its customers. Branding a sense of community across the city of Claremont, this coffee shop brings together families, friends, pets and students at the 5Cs through cups of coffee.
A 5C favorite, many students line up in the afternoons or on weekends to get a perfect cup of coffee. As a first-year here at the Claremont Colleges, Iron and Kin is personally one of my go-to spots to do work. I can’t tell if it’s the welcoming atmosphere or the bucolic environment of the shop that keeps me coming back, but I always walk out feeling refreshed and new.
Iced or hot, oat or whole, however you like it, Iron and Kin does it all, catering each drink to our specific taste. And yes, it is worth it.
Working as a barista for almost a year, Isabel Navarrete PZ ’23 crafts each drink with care for her customers.
“I’ve been a barista for about seven years and worked at a lot of shops but [at] this place there’s a really strong sense of community, which I really appreciate, and I was drawn to that.” Navarrete said.
As she was grinding up coffee beans for my “courageous” latte, Navarrete told me about her favorite parts about being a barista at Iron and Kin.
“Once you’ve been doing it for a while, it just becomes a habit, so I can turn my brain off and just use my body,” Navarrete said. “You can always get a warm smile and a joke here. It’s a good place to come and just feel like you’re part of the community.”
“Once you’ve been doing it for a while, it just becomes a habit, so I can turn my brain off and just use my body. You can always get a warm smile and a joke here. It’s a good place to come and just feel like you’re part of the community.” — Isabel Navarrete
The diverse range of customers who come to support this local coffee shop is another part of what makes Iron and Kin so distinct.
Kristin LeBlanc CM ‘23, a frequent customer, often takes breaks here to grab a cup of coffee.
“I like that this place is privately owned, unlike the other places in the village. I also like that they specialize in coffee. They do a great job steaming the milk and [I] love the taste of their espresso,” LeBlanc said.
As an avid coffee drinker, LeBlanc enjoys coming to Iron and Kin during a break in her day to grab a latte, walk around the Village and explore its shops. Her favorite drink on the menu is the “Worthy” latte (a blend of brown sugar, vanilla, figs and black pepper), and recommends it to any newcomers.
“Don’t skip out on the black pepper, it’s the best part,” LeBlanc explained. “It’s like having salted caramel. It’s vanilla and pepper, it goes so well together,”
As for other drink recommendations on the menu, Matthew Leung PZ ’26 enjoys the “Peaceful” latte (turmeric, ginger, cardamom, raw honey and black pepper).
“It has a nice kick to it and makes my brain happy in a way,” Leung said.
LeBlanc also enjoys the friendliness of the baristas.
“Every time I come in, I always have a conversation with them, and they are always down to chat about anything. It brings together a very nice community,” LeBlanc said. “As I come here more often, it feels like I’ve got to know them better, and they get to know me.”
Leung’s first time coming to Iron and Kin was with his friend last semester.
“I loved the vibe of the shop as well as the open space it brings to its customers,” Leung said.
He admires the glass ceiling that brings copious amounts of natural light into the room, creating a perfect ambiance when doing work. In addition, the green plants mixed with the rustic interior make the shop’s environment even more comforting.
”Iron and Kin is the perfect place to chill. I would come back here as a quick pit stop during my day and just chill here,” Leung said.
Iron and Kin is more than just a coffee shop. It’s a community of people that values diversity, kinship and coffee. As students at the 5Cs, we, too, are part of the Claremont community. Despite our extra-curricular activities or strenuous course load that makes it difficult to get off campus, the college experience also includes exploring the surrounding neighborhood and its offerings.
Let Iron and Kin be the excuse to get an extra dose of caffeine before the day ends or give your brain a break from work. Whether it’s venturing off campus to seek a new study spot, meeting with friends, or just taking a mindfulness stroll, there’s no place better to do that than at Iron and Kin.