Walking down Pardall, you may notice Isla Vista (I.V.)’s newest commercial offering. With its sleek interior, low lighting, and simple, welcoming layout, it is challenging not to utilize the obvious pun when describing Kozy Coffee. My writing partner and accompanying coffee connoisseur, Hally Zhou, and I were initially struck by the clean, modern look of the place — the neon letters outside and flower emblem inside are nothing if not Instagrammable. Compared to the surrounding charming but albeit older buildings on Pardall Road, Kozy stands out as being, well, new.
A day after opening, the line was long as expected but moved quite fast; the employees were friendly yet still efficient. The sound system had good dynamics and played “Bags” by Clairo and some Lana Del Rey. Hope is a dangerous thing for a coffee lover like me to have — but I was not let down.
Hally got a blended matcha drink while I ordered a Gibraltar — an espresso drink I haven’t seen advertised at any of the other coffee shops in I.V. Both were quite good though slightly expensive but that was to be expected. Unlike many corporate chains that use automatic brewing, Kozy’s machines are all manual. The baristas are trained specifically for each machine, and the machines have to be calibrated every morning. I’m not exactly sure what this all means, but it sounds like a good selling point. We also tried, by recommendation, the chocolate chip muffin and a strawberry scone. Both were solid — a bit dry, but the flavors balance out.
I chatted with one of the owners, Parker Wallace, about the origins of Kozy and how this all came to be. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a biology degree just a few years ago, and he moved back with Santa Barbara Community College alumnus Tyler Brundy to open the coffee shop. Their main goal, Wallace says, is to provide a good atmosphere for studying and socializing, and to simply give students a nice place to “be.” Intentionally, there are outlets by every table inside, and the hours of the shop will be lengthened during dead and finals weeks.
Hally and I discussed the utility of a place like Kozy — the coffee is good, sure, but that’s not really what you’re paying for. The life of a student can be stressful and chaotic — we spend our days running back and forth between home, campus, and the library, constantly navigating between classes, meetings, and deadlines.
“Third spaces,” such as Kozy, allow us to have a break from a pointed routine, to study and hang out in places unrelated to academic and home life. Visiting a variety of locations is important for one’s mental health, and it can provide relief from the often monotonous routine. Further, for that unaffiliated space to be comfortable, clean, and coz- calming is so important. Kozy, while for the most part a standard coffee shop, is filling a niche vital to the lives of us college students — and giving us good craft coffee while they’re at it.