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What’s Cars and Coffee & How Did It Become So Big in California?

Depending on who you ask, it’s all Jerry Seinfeld’s fault.

By Audrey Davis
February 24 2022
Vibrant Porsche ready for Cars and Coffee meet up in Malibu. (Malibu Cars and Coffee Facebook)

Last year, the comedian and car collector drew the ire of Malibu residents who claimed that a weekly cars and coffee event had gotten out of hand. It’s probably not surprising that not everyone is a fan of these popular Southern California events, which are typically held early in the morning and attract the kind of collector cars that aren’t exactly known for quiet engines. However, Seinfeld’s pal Spike Feresten argued at the time that it’s a bit reductive to blame all the noise on rich celebrities and their hot rods, who are hosting a relatively small cars and coffee event in a region that’s full of them. 

Vintage cars galore! (Dennis Rex-Flickr) 

Famous collectors like Seinfeld and Feresten may have been among the first to popularize cars and coffee meetups in California, but these events have grown far beyond just Sunday mornings at the Malibu Village strip mall. There are currently dozens of cars and coffee events going on in SoCal on any given weekend, from San Pedro to Griffith Park to Northridge. What’s even more surprising is that most of these events are not affiliated with one another, having been organized individually by local enthusiasts. So they’re not to be confused with the global Cars & Coffee brand, which hosts events on every continent and allows interested car fans to set up new gatherings under their organization’s umbrella. Of course, California has always marched to the beat of its own drum, and the events around Los Angeles in particular reflect the area’s rich car culture. 

Mercedes focused Cars and Coffee event in LA. (Ekimap Twitter) 

It’s no secret that L.A. is a driving city, with deep roots in custom car cultures like hot rodding and lowriding. A huge part of the attraction to automobiles is simple geography: the L.A. area is vast and varied, with a number of different environments that might require car customizations. Each region within SoCal also has a unique culture and community, so it makes sense that local gearheads would want to celebrate their cars their own way. And finally, sunshine and warm weather plays a major role here as well. Collectors of rare vehicles are careful not to expose their treasures to inclement weather, which is easier to do if you’re gathering somewhere without rain or snow.  

Jay Leno at Malibu Cars and Coffee. (Los Angeles Times) 

But at its core, a cars and coffee event is just a bunch of gearheads having breakfast on a weekend morning, chatting about the cars they drove to get there. It’s the most loosely defined type of car show, if you could call it a show at all – we like to think of it more as a meeting of the minds, and a chance to chill out with some really cool vehicles. 



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