Intelligentsia Coffee - Can we discuss
This place sucks. I have been five or six times - hope springs eternal. I have had an espresso, regular coffee a few times, and a capuccino.
A) The staff is so into what they are doing and so proud of themselves that they are incredibly slow, and inefficient -- it hence takes about 10 minutes to stand in a line of 3 to get a coffee.
B) The space is not comfortable. The interior has an enormous dead space, and no seating. The exterior seating is also awkward, maybe three okay tables. Many of the tables are in full sun, where most people can sit for about 10 minutes without risking skin cancer.
C) It is REALLY expensive.
D) The coffee just isn't good. People say it is good, but I simply do not what they are talking about. Yes the capuccino is very pretty, and they do steam milk properly (which is unusual in la). The capuccino was fine - it was like fourteen dollars and an hour of my life - but it was fine. The espresso I had was just plain bad - maybe it was a misfire, because it was almost tepid. The coffee though is just bad. They drip it to order in a very fancy machine, but it just does not taste good.
Why can't we get a nice independent coffee shop in LA where the coffee is consistently good and the seating is comfortable?
Try Priscilla's in Toluca Lake... I've always enjoyed their coffee. However, the bean that they use for the espresso roast is some continental blend which may not appeal to you. In any case, it's worth a try.
REALLY expensive? Compared to what? Their drinks are about the same price as Starbucks or Coffee Bean, and infinitely better.
Anyway, it's a matter of taste. A lot of people, including me, love their coffee. Check one of the many threads about small cafes/coffee houses for alternatives.
After having visited third-wave cafes Caffe Luxxe and Groundwork numerous times, I finally made it to Intelli-LA last week. To address your issues based on my visit:
A. I went at noon on a Friday. The wait for drinks was less than 5 minutes from payment to pickup. Building a cap or making a cup of Clover takes time, and those pressed for it should probably head to one of the majors with superautomatics that can practically build your entire drink with the push of a button.
I find nothing wrong with the staff being into it - it's actually quite refreshing. What's wrong with taking pride in your work? I can see how one can get the impression that they are proud of themselves, but I didn't detect any arrogance.
B. Agree with the seating - a lot of space inside, not enough outside. Also, the constant street noise can be irritating. I counted no less than three sirens rushing by in the course of an hour.
C. Disagree - $2 for a double and $3 for a cap (IIRC) is very reasonable, considering the quality of their drinks. How much does $* charge?
D. Taste is obviously subjective. Personally, I did not enjoy the double and cap as much as Luxxe, Groundwork, or the third wave shops in the Bay Area, but quality is still right up there. There are so many factors in producing a great cup so there will be some variability.
For your espresso, what are you comparing it to for reference? They pour ~1oz. ristrettos and results in a very intense, flavorful cup with minimal bitterness if pulled right. However, it shouldn't be tepid right after pulling the shot unless they did not preheat the cups (I doubt there is an issue with their machines.)
I had a cup of the Clover. I believe the machine fully extracts the flavor profile of the type of bean being used, whether it runs to your liking or not. Maybe you would have enjoyed it with a different origin.
Again, it boils down to personal prefs. Like it or not, it's an example of current state-of-the-art coffeemaking.