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Best coffee beans in Los Angeles

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Babette Jun 11, 2007 11:12 AM

I've recently been taking up coffee a bit after a long abstinence. It has to be really good to warrant the resulting jitters. Where is the best place to buy beans near Mt. Washington?

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  1. c
    condiment RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 11:14 AM

    For artisanal, medium-roast, wildly fragrant beans, Groundworks on Main at Second downtown. For hairy-chested dark-roast beans, probably anywhere else.

    1. m
      mc michael RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 11:17 AM

      Maybe Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mc michael
        Amuse Bouches RE: mc michael Jun 11, 2007 03:14 PM

        Jones are very good.

        1. re: Amuse Bouches
          cgfan RE: Amuse Bouches Jun 11, 2007 03:49 PM

          A bit of trivia... Did you know that when Trader Joe's first started offering coffee that Jones provided the roasts for them? Apparently they and Joe Coulombe (Trader Joe) were good family friends...

          1. re: cgfan
            ChinoWayne RE: cgfan Jun 11, 2007 08:05 PM

            Yes, Jones! They grow their own beans at their plantation in Guatemala. I resisted acquiring a taste for coffee for more than 50 years, but Jones' beans won me over.

            Since I am not mobile these days, it is also nice that you can order from their web site and get your beans in a day or two via UPS.

      2. s
        slacker RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 11:23 AM

        Groundworks. There's one in downtown on Main at 2nd. They are also the only place in L.A. with a Clover coffee maker, that $2k coffee maker that brews up some of the best coffee I've tasted. There was a pretty long thread about this about a month or so ago. Also, the beans at Groundworks are very high quality. So if you have to limit your coffee intake, that is definitely the place to get some really good coffee. Be sure to try a cup that's brewed in the Clover. My favorite is still the Lake Tawar, Sumatra.
        http://lacoffee.com/

        14 Replies
        1. re: slacker
          m
          mc michael RE: slacker Jun 11, 2007 11:36 AM

          Groundworks confuses me. I had some of their Dark Columbian at a downtown eatery that I really liked. I went to Groundworks' site and couldn't find any. I went to Main & 2d (had a nice cup of the Clover product) and tried to buy some. No dice. Some coffee is only for sale to commercial clients!?

          1. re: slacker
            cgfan RE: slacker Jun 11, 2007 01:08 PM

            Yes on Groundworks; they are definitely in the artisan roaster category. I would avoid, though, the small hole-in-the-wall they operate on Main in Santa Monica. No matter how good the beans, they can always be ruined by improper handling and extraction, which is the experience I had with a visit to this location. But their Main St. as well as their Artist's District location are good choices. (BTW the Clover's are $12k machines...)

            Also if you are looking for beans to use for espresso, Caffe Luxxe in Santa Monica is a source for beans (rebranded) from Seattle's Espresso Vivace, perhaps the most important early mover and shaker in the technical aspects of the new "espresso revolution". They have rebranded what is essentially their Espresso Vivace Dolce blend as their house blend.

            In San Dimas is Coffee Klatch; they bring in some of the most amazing lots of specialty coffee; just recently they won the bid (shared with a few other roasters) on a record setting bid of green (unroasted) coffee beans, I believe going for $130/pound. They do an incredible job at roasting, and they are also home to our only two time U.S. Barista Champion, Heather Perry.

            Also coming up, not sure if they're open to the public yet, is Chicago's Intelligenstia Coffee's new West Coast beachhead in the SilverLake area. (I believe they were also in on the record-winning bid for the Esmeralda greens...) They are perhaps one of the most socially active pursuers of quality coffee, developing relationships and markets directly with growers to improve their lot, not necessarily out of sheer altruism in its own right, but out of an uncompromising focus that this is what it takes to deliver a better cup. I believe they are planning on a 100% clover setup for all of their brewed coffees in the L.A. store.

            The Intelligenstia development is big for L.A.. I suspect that this will spark a new wave of delivering artisan coffee and fostering customer appreciation.

            1. re: cgfan
              Chowpatty RE: cgfan Jun 11, 2007 02:03 PM

              Intelligentsia is not yet open (maybe another month or so?) but it will certainly be a good source when it does. Intelligentsia beans are available at a few places around town already (Pazzo Gelato, I think).
              However, it will be head to head with LaMill, which is also opening in Silver Lake later this summer. Their beans are excellent and available online until the store opens.
              www.lamillcoffee.com

              1. re: Chowpatty
                z
                zoomchic RE: Chowpatty Jun 11, 2007 02:12 PM

                I bought Intelligentsia beans at Whole Foods in Santa Monica. $12.95 for 12 oz.

                1. re: Chowpatty
                  Woolsey RE: Chowpatty Jun 11, 2007 07:51 PM

                  I think Boule sells Intelligentsia.

                  1. re: Chowpatty
                    r
                    revets2 RE: Chowpatty Jun 11, 2007 11:32 PM

                    you can pick up your coffee at the plant in alhambra at LA MILL. you'll need to give them 24 hrs. notice, then allow the coffee to cure for another 24hr. after roasting. the two will be head to head, but craig min of LA MILL and doug zell of INTELLIGENSIA are friends.

                    LA MILL is also the new distributor for the clover in the southland.

                    right now, we rotate between LA MILL, BLUE BOTTLE, CAFFE LUXXE, PEETS (arabian mocha sunani only), and INTELLIGENSIA. we're pulling espresso and doing vacuum process coffee.

                    1. re: Chowpatty
                      aching RE: Chowpatty Jun 12, 2007 10:11 AM

                      I saw Intelligentsia beans at Clementine the other day...

                  2. re: slacker
                    c
                    cjla RE: slacker Jun 12, 2007 10:19 AM

                    Kaldi in Atwater has cold-pressed coffee. Is that the same process a Clover uses?

                    1. re: cjla
                      m
                      mc michael RE: cjla Jun 12, 2007 10:24 AM

                      No, I don't think so. You have to go to Groundworks and have the manager or somebody give you the $64 explanation. After you hear it, you have to buy a cup for only $2.

                      1. re: mc michael
                        c
                        cjla RE: mc michael Jun 12, 2007 10:29 AM

                        Verry Ronk-o-Matic sounding, but alluring at the same time.

                        1. re: cjla
                          m
                          mc michael RE: cjla Jun 12, 2007 10:31 AM

                          Beats the Bass-O-Matic.

                      2. re: cjla
                        cgfan RE: cjla Jun 12, 2007 05:36 PM

                        Cold coffee extraction is probably referring to a Toddy Coffee.

                        The Clover is essentially a precise temperature and brew-time controlled means of what is essentially just traditional brewing. It's tempting to compare it with French Press but it uses a much finer filter, and a vacuum is used to draw the water through the grounds. Another important difference is clean-up where the Clover requires just a quick pass with a squeegee on a flat surface to sweep the grounds "off the edge" and into the bin, with the resulting grounds being considerably drier than with the French Press. And of course temperature control is non-existant with the French Press, let alone precise temperature control.

                        1. re: peanut112
                          r
                          revets2 RE: peanut112 Jun 21, 2007 04:28 PM

                          thanks for the great description, peanut. we went and tried the clover more than once at GW on main/2nd with all the hype...and loved it. we're really espresso people, but could be converted to the clover. what i really like about it is that you can sample different beans ground to order which you think you should be able to do with the FP, but many shops don't offer your choice of beans. it's whatever's in the grinder!

                          just got back from the bay area, so we're grinding BLUE BOTTLE'S hayes valley today...terrific!

                          1. re: peanut112
                            r
                            revets2 RE: peanut112 Jun 23, 2007 11:07 AM

                            LA MILL is now a distributor for the clover in socal. i hear one is also being installed at PROVIDENCE. there will also likely be one at INTELLIGENSIA. i'm not such a fanatic about it that i have to have the clover; we're very happy with an expertly pulled espresso, but i think it lives up to the hype.

                    2. t
                      tdo ca RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 11:58 AM

                      Graffeo's are pretty good; I prefer the half/half.

                      1. lotta_cox RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 12:40 PM

                        blue bottle coffee company, online, via san francisco. best coffee i have ever had. ever.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: lotta_cox
                          Golem RE: lotta_cox Jun 12, 2007 09:54 AM

                          Unbelievable. The best (and most powerful) cup of coffee I've ever had. I thought no one down here in LA knew about Blue Bottle. Careful folks, it's very addictive.

                          1. re: Golem
                            cgfan RE: Golem Jun 12, 2007 10:09 AM

                            Great operation, and great coffee.

                            However just a small nit upon my visit to Blue Bottle, and I find this all too common a "problem" at other shops that either roasts on-site or has a readily available source of freshly roasted beans, is that when they get too far behind on their inventory some of the roasts are pushed out too early. The cup I had was clearly not yet settled and too gassy, and some of the astrigency that I associate with a roast that has not been properly aged post-roast was still present in the cup.

                            I got to say, though, that given the dreck that's served up everywhere else, ironically this is only a "problem" only for the better cafe's out there! (I also had a similar experience down here in S.D. during a recent visit to a roaster/cafe where I detected the same telltale signature in my cup. On our way out my friend asked the roaster about the roast date, and sure enough it was roasted that same day...)

                            1. re: Golem
                              rachaels RE: Golem Jun 22, 2007 03:35 PM

                              agreed best coffee! I love going to the SF Famer's Market and getting a cup from them. Last time we went we bought 6 bags.

                            2. re: lotta_cox
                              BBB RE: lotta_cox Jun 22, 2007 05:04 PM

                              I heartily agree. Blue Bottle is the best! I always stop at farmers market when I'm up there.

                              1. re: lotta_cox
                                s
                                sel RE: lotta_cox Jun 23, 2007 11:17 AM

                                I agree, 100%!!! I love the kiosk at the Ferry Bldg., the Linden St. garage and settle most of the time for online order/home delivery. But I have yet to try LA MILL or Intelligensia or the Clover at Groundworks (or the Clover product anywhere else) so for me the search for the best cup continues.

                              2. PlonkMan RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 12:56 PM

                                Try West Coast Roasting (www.wcrcompany.com)

                                1. f
                                  FED RE: Babette Jun 11, 2007 04:20 PM

                                  i like Supreme Bean. they're in north hollywood. i think they only do mail order, but they're very, very good and very good to work with.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: FED
                                    LANative RE: FED Jun 11, 2007 07:56 PM

                                    I know a guy in SF Valley who roasts the most amazing beans (my favorite is the Guatemalan Hueheutenango). You can order it via his website: freshroastdaily.com.

                                  2. aching RE: Babette Jun 12, 2007 10:13 AM

                                    I hardly ever drink coffee, but my SO is an addict, and the coffee he's loved the most (at least since we've been together) was from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR. I brought it back for him when I was there visiting, but you can also order off their website (www.stumptowncoffee.com).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: aching
                                      b
                                      bulavinaka RE: aching May 7, 2010 06:45 PM

                                      A couple of places that I know of in the Westside for Stumptown:

                                      Gjelina in Venice

                                      Venice Grind on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista.

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                                      Gjelina
                                      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

                                      Venice Grind
                                      12224 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                    2. cant talk...eating RE: Babette Jun 12, 2007 06:28 PM

                                      Is that odd little pastry/coffee shop still open on Mission across from Trader Joe's in So. Pasadena? I swear I've had the best coffee there, and they did sell bulk. Not sure what they do to it. Served in unassuming styrofoam cups. This isn't dark-roasted (can't deal w/ the taste of Starbucks, etc.) but light-to-med. roast, always fresh. I'll get better intel the next time I'm in there (if it still exisits).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cant talk...eating
                                        s
                                        slacker RE: cant talk...eating Jun 21, 2007 06:01 PM

                                        That little place is, sadly, gone.

                                      2. jlevine RE: Babette Jun 12, 2007 07:22 PM

                                        Sorry that this isn't near Mt. Washington, but there's a new place called Funnel Mill on Broadway in Santa Monica that's truly amazing. Phenomenal beans and a unique brewing process. Make a stop next time you're on the westside.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jlevine
                                          a_and_w RE: jlevine Jun 20, 2007 01:38 PM

                                          I like Funnel Mill (esp. the space) but find the brewing method to be a little ridiculous -- more for show than taste. I also prefer a more robust cup of coffee (the taste reminds me of a Chemex) and consider it a strike against them that they serve flavored coffee. That said, there are MANY things to love about Funnel Mill, esp. if you're looking for a place to study/chill and prefer coffee with low acidity.

                                        2. b
                                          Babette RE: Babette Jun 23, 2007 12:57 PM

                                          I'm slowly going to work my way through all of these suggestions.

                                          First stop, Jones, Pasadena. We tried the Hazelnut Cream because it was the Hawaiian Hazelnut from Santa Barbara Roasting Co. which got me drawn in to this new delight. (Are flavored coffees maybe not pc, purists? I'll be branching out, & I already love espresso).

                                          The report: good, but a sort of saltier flavor than the Santa Barbara version, if that makes sense. Also, my husband asked the lady selling him the beans what the origin was, & she didn't know.

                                          My brewing methods may be imperfect: paper cone, individual cup. We also have a simple LaRoma espresso maker.

                                          Thanks, everyone. Many more reports to come, from a born again coffee virgin point of view.

                                          1. b
                                            beannut RE: Babette Nov 3, 2007 12:07 AM

                                            The Conservatory in Culver City has really good coffee. They have a small selection of excellent single origins plus their espresso blend is the best around. Every coffee is roast dated and most are within 1-3 days young.

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                                              skidharma RE: Babette May 5, 2010 09:31 AM

                                              Just moved to Los Feliz. Where is the best place to buy fresh roasted coffee beans?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: skidharma
                                                mrgreenbeenz RE: skidharma May 5, 2010 07:12 PM

                                                Intelligentsia at Sunset Junction has goods bean but very pricey and is quite the 'hip' scene. LAMill on Silverlake Blvd. is comparable and the same description fits.

                                                Groundwork across from Amoeba Records is not as good but a little less pricey and they allow you the pleasure of sorting through their cabinets of beans.

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                                                Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
                                                3922 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                                                Groundwork Coffee Company
                                                1501 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                Lamill Coffee Boutique
                                                1636 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

                                                1. re: skidharma
                                                  m
                                                  maiweezy RE: skidharma Jul 18, 2010 09:06 AM

                                                  I get my beans at either Intelligentsia or La Mill, but, I've been curious to try the beans at the Oaks Gourmet Market on Franklin and Bronson. You have to buy at least a pound and they roast them there on the spot for you. A lot of variety and they say they get new beans ever 1-2 weeks. Let us know how your search goes, I live in Los Feliz too!

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                                                  Oaks Gourmet
                                                  1915 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

                                                2. j
                                                  jadekarrde RE: Babette May 7, 2010 06:19 PM

                                                  Picked up some new beans from Conservatory yesterday, the Brazil Sutaozinho.

                                                  WOW! Best coffee I've ever brewed myself by a comfortable mile. Get some of these beans while they're still in season. Tremendous depth of flavors and a really satisfying cup that brightened by whole day.

                                                  Marvelous beans, get to The Conservatory, quick!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jadekarrde
                                                    b
                                                    bulavinaka RE: jadekarrde May 7, 2010 06:41 PM

                                                    Here's the website and link:

                                                    http://www.conservatorycoffeeandtea.com/

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                                                    Conservatory For Coffee
                                                    10117 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                                    1. re: jadekarrde
                                                      b
                                                      bulavinaka RE: jadekarrde Jul 18, 2010 01:09 PM

                                                      jadekarrde and beannut,

                                                      I have to say - The Conservatory on Washington in Culver City is has been consistently wonderful. I've had a couple of regular cups of coffee at their shop, as well as a French-pressed cup(s) from the new crepe place on Grand View in Mar Vista. Perfect roasting with great beans makes for a nice neat cuppa joe. Coffee nuts need to go here...

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