The human mouth, which maintains a near-boiling temperature, needs to be constantly cooled by liquid-nitrogen pills or a jaw-mounted mouth fan. Take a more delicious route to cooling your maw with today's Groupon: for $5, you get $10 worth of frozen treats, kettle corn, and drinks at Pura Vida Shaved Ice and Espresso Bar.
Guided by the Costa Rican ideal of the pure life, Pura Vida Shaved Ice and Espresso Bar makes good on its namesake with a menu of sticky treats wrought from simple ingredients alongside fresh coffeehouse drinks and smoothies. A countertop machine shaves flurries of ice as fine as snow, whose texture and lifeguard training prevent the sweet syrup from trickling to the bottom. Douse a small shaved ice ($3) in one of more than 50 high-quality flavors, such as tropical guava, cinnamon horchata, and fresh mint, or combine cotton candy and lemonade from a list of more than a dozen sugar-free nectars. Fresh, candy-coated kernels pop into piping kettle corn ($3 for a small) with a sprinkling of salt and a jaunty fiddle tune.
At the counter, baristas command teakettles and espresso machines to brew up love potions for the taste buds with flavors such as white mocha ($3.40 for a small). Smoothies fill the gap between solid and liquid dainties, topping off 20-ounce cups with tart real-fruit blends ($2.99). Light streams through the rustic café's big windows, warming the blood-red- and lemon-colored walls inside. Customers can soak up rays from wrought-iron furniture arrayed on the patio or whiz by the drive-thru window on their leg of the Olympic-torch relay.
Pura Vida Shaved Ice and Espresso Bar
When the trio of Jenna Harvey, Ryan Woods, and Steffen Haro graduated from UC Davis, they decided to create their own jobs. "It's not in our character to throw up our hands and say, 'Well, we tried,'" Harvey says as she remembers doggedly planning a 400-square-foot shaved-ice shack with Woods and Haro. Their dream quickly evolved into a shop nearly five times as large, complete with an espresso bar, a kettle-corn popper, and a drive-thru window. Named Pura Vida for the Costa Rican phrase that captivated Harvey during a charitable trip in 2007—"Though it translates as 'pure life,' locals said they use it as 'live pure,' and we liked what it stood for"—the affable staff douses fluffy curls of ice with sweet fruits, puckery sours, and an array of sugar-free flavors accented with marshmallow topping or ice cream in the middle. Hot and iced coffees, which Pura Vida hopes to someday source directly from Costa Rica, enliven palates in between bites of kettle corn, which pop from whole-grain kernels. As soft music floats through the red-walled storefront, free WiFi ricochets across the hand-built bamboo counter and onto patio tables perched beneath a shady pitched awning.