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Has Anybody tried Intelligista in Silverlake?

This new coffee shop has my curiousity piqued for sure. I've heard it's over priced, pretntous, poorly layed out, crowded. But I've also heard it's tasty, unique and hip. So has anyone here given it a shot?

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  1. Both sentiments are correct. (Splitting hairs regarding hipness and pretention ignores the fact that the coffee is pretty good.) I'm not a fan of the Delilah baked goods, but the clover coffee and the black cat espresso are tasty.

    In order to battle the poor layout, I recommend heading straight to the back where the bar area is since there's a cash register there also.

    1. Many folks have tried it, but some threads were moved to Chains.

      Also, even for an expensive coffee shop, it's still, what, $2 for a cup of coffee? So what have you got to lose?

      1. Link.

        Make a trip out of it and go to the cheese store too.

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

        1. I prefer the coffee downtown at Groundwork (both Intelligentsia and Groundwork downtown use the Clover machine). At both I have requested "whatever they recommend." Consistently, I have loved Groundwork, and I did not so much enjoy what I was served at Intelligentsia. Of course, I am not comparing apples to apples, and it is probably the particular coffee as opposed to the barrista or Clover. However, each time at Groundwork my coffee was really special.

          2 Replies
          1. re: liu

            On a related note, has anybody ever tried searching before. Anybody, anybody?

            I hear it's useful.

            1. re: ns1

              To search, you have to be able to spell the place you're searching for.

          2. My wife loves Pazzo Gelato so I will stop in and grab a coffee. I like the coffee but sometimes the people behind the counter can be a little "holier than thou".

            Groundworks, on the other hand, is always friendly. They take coffee seriously and like to support things like Fair Trade practices. They helped sponsor a screening of a documentary called "Black Gold" about coffee growing in Ethiopia. Very enlightening.
            I go to Groundworks every day (close to work) and the trifecta of the ArcLight, Amoeba and Groundworks is often tough for me to resist.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bsquared2

              bsquared2 - I have been to that Groundwork shop, but they did not have the Clover machine...perhaps YET. Do they now have one?
              As far as I know, the Groundwork downtown is their only Clover to date. ??

              1. re: liu

                Clover Alert! Clover Alert!

                Yes, they do have the Clover machine at the Hollywood location. I've seen it with my own eyes. They did tell me that a cup was going to be $4 (only $2 at Intelligentsia) so I haven't tried it there. I go to Groundworks every day. I love the coffee and also get Mint Iced Tea, which keeps me going at work.

                1. re: bsquared2

                  Thanks for this update. We enjoy the ArcLight experience, so now I have even more reason to "entertain" in that neighborhood!
                  For me, the Groundwork Clover coffee is exceptional, but to date I can speak only of the one downtown. The Intelligentsia Clover cup did not measure up, so I look forward to one more Groundwork option.

                  1. re: liu

                    They use different methods on the Clover machines at Groundworks and Intelligentsia. I prefer Intelligentsia's myself; it's clearer and more nuanced, less murky than Groundworks'. I got a chance to talk about the Clover machine (basically a vacuum-pumped French press) and Groundworks' method at the Intelligentsia home brewing seminar one Sunday morning, and the explanation I received was that the Groundworks folks use less coffee ground finer to get more bang for the buck - i.e., a more cost-effective cup of Clover coffee versus what Intelligentsia serves. (The instructor had been able to spend time with the owner of Groundworks, so he knew their methods firsthand; this wasn't specualtion.) Because Groundworks is grinding it finer, more solids go into the brew, and it results in a very different product. If one likes muddy French press, one will be more partial to the Groundworks product. Intelligentsia's Clover coffee reminds me more of a Chemex drip.

                    However, the Clover coffee at Intelligentsia is also the least interesting thing they do there. With the Chemex coffee and the superior espresso drinks, why anyone is bothering with drip coffee there, even from a such a ridiculously expensive machine, is a mystery to me.

            2. Just tried Intelligentsia (sorry about the misspelling in the original post) this morning and I was underwhelmed. Sounds like I need to check out Groundworks though.....

              3 Replies
              1. re: peachmahoney

                I too was underwhelmed by Intelligentsia (and even my friend from Chicago was Meh), but then again I'm lucky that I'm near the Hollywood Groundwork (thanks, bsquared2, for the update). I'm not well-versed enough in coffee to tell the difference between Groundwork and Intelligentsia, so I'll just stick with my local shop, especially now that they've got a Clover.

                I can't really complain about the $4 coffee after dropping $80 at Amoeba.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  SauceSupreme - Like you, I am "not well-verse enough in coffee" either. I am a tea drinker. But I have been very impressed by the downtown Groundwork coffee. I never know what to order, but when I trust the barrista to suggest her favorite, I am very happy with what I am served.

                2. re: peachmahoney

                  Yeah, I wasn't all that impressed either. It's about what I would expect from a coffeehouse that calls itself Intelligentsia -- they may as well call it This Is The Best Coffee You've Ever Had And If You Don't Think So You're Stupid.

                  And speaking of being holier-than-thou, let me apologize for snarking you upthread about the misspelling ... but maybe that's what the call their barristas ... ;)

                3. Wow, I'm pretty surprised by some of the comments of "underwhelmed" on this board. I don't proclaim myself as a coffee afficianado, but I can respect a good cup. To simply state that you were "underwhelmed" cuts things a little short. Was the coffee bitter or sour? Was it just not to your taste buds? Different coffees, obviously, have different flavors. Some people will rave over a certain blend, where other people will scoff.

                  The great thing about Intelly and Groundworks is they both roast beans locally, which gets you a far superior cup of coffee than what you could normally get at a coffee shop where the beans may be months old. (Regardless of air-tight bagging methods, nothing will beat fresh roasted coffee).

                  As far as the clover, the benefit lies in getting freshly ground coffee combined with the "vacuum press" extraction. I've tried the Clover only twice. The first time I tried it I didn't see what all the fuss was about. I was expecting a flavor orgasm in my mouth (justly so for an $11,000 price tag). Instead, the coffee seemed watery. The second time I tried the Clover, with the same blend, it was updosed slightly and the result was greatly enhanced. Better mouth-feel and the flavors popped-out. Just goes to show how different amounts of coffee can really change the flavor profile. Don't expect an awesome cup of coffee from the Clover, unless you (or your barista, hopefully), knows your expectations for a cup of coffee and are familiar with the blend.

                  That said, I think most people will be happy with a simple (I believe) 8 gram dose for a 12oz cup. I've switched exclusively to espresso drinks, which probably explains my preference for a higher dose on the Clover. As for espresso, there are few places in Los Angeles that can compete with Intelly. Their Black Cat is known nation-wide and is a pleaser for most home-espresso enthusiasts like myself.

                  Lastly, for those of you trying to compare Intelly to, say, something like Starbucks or something. Let me explain that Starbucks roasts their beans beyond dark. Some people refer to them as "Charbucks." Anyway, when you roast a bean like that, you basically burn away much of the true taste of the bean. You end up with some kind of burned, carbon-tasting flavor. At places like Intelly and Groundworks, you'll find a variety of beans from all over the world. You'll notice that some of the beans are light and medium roasted. This is so more of the flavor profile of the beans will come forth in the cup. And and as far as milk-based drinks, most of the $Bucks style drinks are so overwhelmed with milk you can barely taste the coffee in the first place. At places like Groundworks and Intelly, the focus is on the COFFEE making the taste in your mouth, not the milk.

                  Sorry if this came out as kind of rant, but I've spoken with the people at Intelly and tried 3 different kinds of beans at home thus far (their Black Cat, Kid-O, and their Yrgacheffe), all of which have been phenomenal. I would recommend anyone who goes there to try and learn what flavors of coffee tickle your palate, then order to your liking. If you didn't like a certain cup of coffee, you might just want to try a different blend the next time you stop by.

                  That's my 2 centavos worth.


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Gusto

                    I'm not sure if Intelligentsia roasts their beans locally yet. I think their roasting plant on San Fernando Road will be open sometime later this fall.

                    I'm glad to see someone else appreciates what Intelligentsia's doing. I've never been partial to darkly roasted coffees myself. It's a tradition that comes from peasants' trying to cover the taste of bad coffee; when one has good coffee, why burn it? The Chemex for two at Intelligentsia (actually an Eva Solo when a friend and I ordered it) is a really excellent way to get coffee no other coffeehouse in the city offers, far and away better than the Clover.

                    The drinks at Intelligentsia are just on another level. Nowhere else can I enjoy drip coffee black. Nowhere else do I happily pass on sugar in my latte. I actually kind of wanted to dislike this place. I don't need such an expensive coffee habit - Intelligentsia's lattes are the same size as the tall (small) ones at Starbucks, but priced like a venti. And service - hey, they're busy. They're focused on making drinks. They have more to do than pushing a button and presto, a drink comes out. Their drinks are crafted. I've always gotten very courteous treatment at Intelligentsia. Try visiting in the afternoon or evening; the baristas have more time to discuss the coffees and engage the customers then when there aren't twenty people backed up in line.

                    I'd recommend the Sunday morning home brewing seminar. It's a five-dollar course that lasts an hour, reservations are required, and, afterward, attendees get 10% off purchases. It's a great way to get to know the company's philosophy, how and why they make their products the way they do, and, of course, how to make great coffee at home.

                    1. re: Woolsey

                      I liked the coffee from the Clover at Intelligentsia. I would love to try the Chemex there but my wife doesn't like coffee. My parents liked coffee from a French Press so I was familiar with that method for years. They were actually pretty hip to good coffee from the early 70s on. Sadly they now drink Starbucks because there aren't that many good choices near them.

                      I think it is great that we are even having this debate. It made me think of the passing of Alfred Peet and the fact that people can appreciate better coffee and the different ways of brewing.

                      Of course, my wife is Vietnamese and I love drinking VN coffee. The only local coffee house I know that offers anything like that is Urth Cafe. That thrill of French Roast Coffee and the sweetness of condensed milk is hard to beat. I can feel my synapes firing whenever I drink it.

                    2. re: Gusto

                      I believe you tipped your hand when you referred to Starbucks as "$Bucks". Actually, you sound like you have a problem with corporations.

                      I have been buying coffee at Intelligentsia once or twice a week since it opened. Since I prefer brewed coffee I have only tried coffee from the Clover. I have found it to be rather weak and have yet to be impressed. Shortly, I'll be returning to Starbucks ... because I like strong coffee. I have yet to have a cup of Starbucks brewed coffee that I did not like.

                      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                        I think they may have regular, non-Clover drip coffee à la Starbucks, Coffee Bean, et al at Intelligentsia. After all, there is a giant metal drip coffee machine behind the counter, on the wall opposite where the Clover is. I've even seen big twenty-ounce cups under the counter, too. I think they just don't advertise it.

                        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                          Sorry if I came out sounding like I dislike corporations.... I don't have anything against Starbucks at all. By the way, "$bucks" is just an abbreviation I've seen used on other boards, it wasn't done as any type of negative-bashing-corporation thing. I think if you look at my post, the focus is more on how they roast their coffee, which doesn't really appeal to me. Lastly, like I've said already, each person's taste is unique. I know some people who swear by dark roasted coffees. If that's your thing, Starbucks is probably a good fit. :) If you try a straight shot of espresso from Starbucks and then try a straight shot of espresso from Intelligentsia, you'll see what I mean (I'm more of an espresso person). :) Happy cupping!

                          1. re: Gusto

                            Starbucks didn't start out not knowing how to roast coffee, but unfortunately they have created a monster. The bigger they got the more difficult it was to supply freshly roasted coffee beans to their outlets. They know that the darker(charred?) roasts will stay relatively fresher longer than a lighter roast.

                            And what could be considered a catch-22, they realize that most of their customers don't really like coffee, hence the 20oz. lattes that are so milk heavy that a milder roasted coffee would go unnoticed in the drink.

                            The trick is teaching people that espresso doesn't have to be bitter or sour that when correctly brewed is a wonderfully complex and sweet drink on it's own. Maybe someday these third wave coffee shops will be in the majority!. I can only hope.

                        2. re: Gusto

                          i saw this right after I read your post on starbucks roasting practice...

                        3. Decided to check out Intelligentsia this morning and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

                          I had the cappuccino and really enjoyed it. Love the fact that the barista took the time to whirl the milk after steaming and after incorporarting in the espresso resulted in what I would describe as coffee cream. Not sure what roast they used, but the end concontion had lots of different layers of flavours.

                          Additionally didn't experience any of the negative service some posters have expressed. Only complain is that they should reconfigure the store to ease the busy traffic.

                          Good stuff. Wished there was something remotely close around the sticks of Calabasas.

                          1. I went about 2 weeks ago, and my SO begs me every day to go back (we've gone almost a dozen times now, even though it's at least 20 min away). I think the coffee is outstanding, better than anything else nearby (including Starbucks, Peets, Swork; etc). While I think Starbucks has good labor policies, I can't stand their coffee. The espresso at Intelligentsia is fantastic! and I like their mint-chocolate cookies. My only complaint is the lack of indoor seating - we go there to study, and i get cold in the winter!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: patz

                              Maybe it's a blessing - the interior is Mozza/Border Grill-level loud.

                              1. re: Woolsey

                                it's not that quiet outside either - people, cars, dogs - thank god for headphones!