- CAFFE LUXXE, santa monica, one of the few synesso machines in LA
- PAZZO GELATO, silverlake, if renée makes it, uses black cat intelligensia and intelligensia trained, pasquini machine
- SABOR Y CULTURA, only made by donny, came in 14th in his 1st regional barista championship, self-trained and barefoot (santa clara) trained
- FRITELLI'S DONUTS, BH, exclusive blend, coffee's killer too
- COFFEE KLATCH, san dimas & rancho cucamonga, uses their own blend, especially good if their using their competition blend, owner's daughter is first woman to win World Championship in Torino, Italy
- PEETS, i think they still do an excellent espresso, i pay extra and ask for them to grind the arabian mocha sunani, makes all the difference
and not publicly accessible everyday, LA MILL COFFEE, has 10-15 of the most beautiful espresso machines at their corporate HQ & roasting facility. if you're nice, they might make a capp for you on one of their occasional public tours. that's the best capp i've had in L.A. they may open a branding store soon in the LA-area hopefully with marzocco machines.
our benchmarks are SANT' EUSTACHIO, TAZZA D'ORO, BOTTLEROCK.
have i forgotten one?
Caffe Luxxe has some quality drinks being turned out, as does Sabor Y Cultura IF Donny is working (less and less it seems), and the Klatch is definitely doing a lot of R&D on green sourcing, roasting and of course turning out good baristas...that being said, I don't believe Heather is a world champion. I don't think there has ever been an American who has been a World Barista Championship champion....maybe I'm wrong..she WAS the 2003 US champion.
I tried the cap at Fratelli's today - I'd rate it a "not so much". Perhaps I've been conditioned but I'd choose a dry Starbucks cap over that.
i would add two places. first, the groundwork branch on main st., near 2nd, in downtown l.a. (next to pitfire pizza) is very good. the place has been open only about a month. groundwork hired eton, former owner of cafe organica in s.f. (one of the top places in s.f. during its short life) to help transform its espresso business. he spent a lot of time getting the new location ready and training the baristas. it shows. definitely one of the top places in town. i woudn't recommend any of the other brances for espresso drinks at this time (though i say this without have been to any in a while and knowing that eton is working to imrpove the quality at those locations).
a second place i'd add to the list is euro caffee on little santa monica, in beverly hills (across from the sharper image). i always get a straight espresso there, so i can't speak with experience about their milk-based drinks, but i would be very surprised if they're anything but stellar.