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Best Coffee in LA

I'm a self-proclaimed coffee snob...probably from years of drinking coffee, working in the coffee sector, and actually working for a British commodities company..BUT..it's hard to find good coffee in L.A. I'm not talking about over-roasted and lower quality beans being passed off as quality simply because there's a cultural trend for it (you know who and what I'm talking about)...so Chowhounds, I'm throwing down the gauntlet:
Where are your favorite places in LA (from the Valley to downtown to the beaches and beyond) for coffee and why? Quality of beans, barista skills, latte art, self-roasting, ambience that makes you want to come back?

Bring it on,
Thanks,
Peanut!

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  1. As much as I hate to admit it, Urth Cafe probably has the best coffee. It's rare to see a scenester place also serve good food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BenNLC

      I agree. URTH CAFFE has the best coffee I have found in LA. The WeHo branch is the most scenester (which I find fun for people watching). The Beverly Hills and Santa Monica ones are more subdued.

      1. re: BenNLC

        Totally agreed, especially 'scenester'. I just blogged about them here: http://www.coffeewithchuck.net/2009/0... Let me know what you think.

        Living in Pasadena, I end up visiting places more on this side. I've gotta checkout the weho one soon though.

        -----
        Urth Caffe
        2327 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      2. Admittedly, I'm no expert, but I like the coffee at Peet's.

        13 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I like Peet's too -- esp. for a chain. If you're looking for something specific to LA, I'd recommend Ground Works coffee (they have a few stores throughout the area www.lacoffee.com )

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I second the Peet's nomination! Has anybody tried the new Freddo? I had a non-fat one the other day and it was surprisingly tasty.

            Then again - this is probably not what a coffee snob is looking for

            1. re: MareZeeDotes

              For the trivia file: Peets Berkley (I believe that is the original location) was the progeniter of the Starbuck$ chain, that is where they original Starbuck$ people learned about coffee. Mr. Peet was a brilliant genius with coffee beans. I believe one of the founders of Starbuck$ split from Starbuck$ and acquired control of Peets.

              1. re: ChinoWayne

                The original Peet's -- founded by Alfred Peet -- is still alive and well on the corner of Vine & Walnut in Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" (around the corner from Chez Panisse), right where it's been since 1966.

                Yes, the people who founded Starbuck$ learned at Peet's, and went north to seek fame and fortune by creating the McDonald's of Espresso.

                1. re: zin1953

                  As someone who has actually worked at Peet's, they're not THAT different -- Peet's sold out to places like ABP long ago. Speaking of Bay Area coffee, does anyone know of places in LA that stock or serve Blue Bottle?

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Blue Bottle is my favorite coffee so far! Both at the Saturday Fairy Bldg. Farmers Mkt. and Linden St. spot! I have not been able to find it in L.A. but have ordered whole beans which they roast on Mondays and it's in my mailbox on Wednesday.

                    http://www.bluebottlecoffee.net/

                    edit, I ment Ferry Bldg.

                    1. re: sel

                      Blue Bottle is amazing coffee. I had in San Francisco not too long ago.

                      Since you can order Blue Bottle on line, I have another great selection for coffee: Raven's Brew Coffee, roasted in Alaska! My personal favorite from Raven's Brew is Deadman's Reach (Served in bed; raises the dead -- so reads the label).

                      1. re: Golem

                        Love the Raven's Brew Deadman's Reach--I just gave some as a gift!

                    2. re: a_and_w

                      You are in luck if you live near Venice. Equator Books on Abbot Kinney just opened their cafe and now serves Blue Bottle. They had a guy down from the SF Hayes Valley Mothership to train the barristas not too long ago. You will have to judge for yourself whether they are up to snuff. Until recently, I had been satisfying myself with Urth's Italia roast and Intelligensia Coffee; otherwise, I like to brew Peet's Major Dickenson coffee in my French Press.

                      1. re: Chowista

                        This is fantastic news re: Blue Bottle, thanks for sharing!

                        1. re: Beignets

                          I did mention Equator Books/Cafe, with link, below in my Dec 06, 2009 post.

                      2. re: a_and_w

                        Barista Society, downtown. New place...only coffee that I personally can drink. does not give me a headache. They have Bluebottle.

                  2. re: MareZeeDotes

                    According to the Peet's email list - you can get a small cup of the new freddo on the house on Sat. from 2-4pm (actually they are doing this for 3 weeks, the last of which will be this Saturday)

                2. I like the plain old ordinary espresso at El Cochinito on Sunset in Silverlake. Nothing fancy about it, as a matter of fact they use La Llave coffee out of the can. But there is just something about their machine, the grind, the water, whatever that combine to make the finest cup of espresso in Los Angeles. (My girlfriend swears by their cafe con leche.) Can't get anything else fancy and coffee related there, the atmosphere is stark and plain. The roast pork is awfully good. I think it kicks butt over any of the fancy, modern, coffeecentric places I've been to.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: estone888

                    Right on! I swear by the cafe con leche there as well

                    !!!!

                  2. Having posted on a similar subject not long ago after getting here from Seattle, the best I have found, by far, in my first couple of months in LA is Polly's Gourmet Coffee in Long Beach. Urth and Susina are perfectly good, they are good at everything, but Polly's is about the coffee, which they roast there. The owner does barista training, etc. Basic, Seattle style goodness, but to my admittedly limited experience absolutely unique in this city. If anyone who knows Polly's can recommend equivalents elsewhere (is Groundwork in Santa Monica similar caliber? Anything nearer Pasadena?), particularly with an in-store roasting component, I'd love to hear it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: EricW

                      Pasadena Coffee Company on Walnut. They roas their own beans. I've only been there once and actually did not care that much for the coffee that I tried.

                      http://www.pasadenacoffeecompany.com/

                    2. Favorites include:

                      1. Sabor Y Cultura in Hollywood (buy beans here)
                      2. Urth Caffe (good food and coffee, annoying environment)
                      3. Priscilla's in Toluca Lake
                      4. Zona Rosa in Pasadena
                      5. Novel Cafe in Westwood (good drip coffee)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: running pig

                        Surprisingly enough, I have to second the recommendation for Novel Cafe in Westwood. Haven't tried their espresso drinks, but they do have really good basic drip coffee. They're generous with refills, there's never a wait for a table, and they let you linger and read/study/sip for as long as you want.

                        1. re: running pig

                          I second Priscilla's. Their coffee is great and the staff seems to know their stuff, especially the guys that work in the am with the commuter/studio crowd.

                          1. re: running pig

                            assuming that you are talking about the place that used to be Espresso Mi Cultura - I completely agree.
                            I'm not sure its' still the same. But, I've since moved to Long beach and I miss that place.