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Apr 11, 2008 06:38 AM

Coffee that's strong enough to defend itself!

My coffee of choice is Starbucks Caffe Verona, with TJ's Bay Blend a close second. Starbucks has recently decided to stop offering dark coffee in the afternoons, and the so-called "medium" roast they now sell is dreadful. My routine was to go in regularly to buy a pound of beans, which comes with the added bonus of a free brewed cup. Now that that free cup is something awful (unless I get there before 12) I'm ready to try something new, preferably with less of a corporate presence.

I've tried Intelligentsia, and I just don't get it. Their philosophy prevents them from offering a dark roast, and I find their roasts to be no better than, say, 7-11. Groundworks was a bit better, but still weak IMO.

I'm trying to find an indie coffee place where I can both buy dark roast beans, *and* get a brewed cup of dark roast. Any suggestions?

Bonus points for proximity to either Wilshire/Fairfax or Colorado/Cloverfield in Santa Monica.


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  1. I'm surprised you haven't found a coffee at Groundwork to your liking. My usual dark roast of choice is Black Gold, but they usually have at least a dozen varieties/blends ready to go in hot pots, and of those, at least a few are dark roast. Also, a blend called, "Big Easy," with chickory is supposed to be out - big on flavor if your familiar with those kinds of coffee blends. I'm loyal to the original Venice location. Okay so they don't have the Clover or baristas with an encyclopedic knowledge of each brew's terroir, and it's looking a little worn around the edges (and then some), but it's in my neck of the woods and the selection is always amazing...

    3 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Thanks, I'll check out the Venice one soon. I went to one downtown, where IIRC they did have the Clover, and tried the Black Gold, and it was - meh. I think I'm just not a fan of the Clover process.

      The Black Gold made by me at home in my Melitta cone may be just the ticket.

      1. re: Vaya Con Carne

        Give their bins a lookover - it's self-serve so you can literally get your nose into the beans... also as I've mentioned before, they usually have about a dozen different coffees in hot pots that on the table that are ready to go. I hope you find at least a couple of brews that can stand their ground...

      2. re: bulavinaka

        Bitches Brew is quite a strong blend at Groundwork. They've got another one that's pretty dark also.

      3. i've been happy with peets.
        all of their roasts tend to be darker than most sold by other purveyors.
        they always offer a free cup of coffee with a ground bean purchase.
        their brewed coffee always tastes much better than starbucks.

        i know this doesn't fit your desire to move away from a corporate entity, but imho, the quality at peets is good enough for me.

        4 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          I concur with Peets for dark roast.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Agreed - I love Peets coffee, corporate or not. But unless I'm missing something, their locations aren't very convenient to where I spend most of my time - so I rarely am near one. I know there's one on Main in SM, but it's been my experience that their brewed coffee is usually Columbian, which is unfortunate!

            1. re: Vaya Con Carne

              That's just bad luck -- the coffee changes daily. The closest Peet's locations to Colorado/Cloverfield are actually the one on Montana and the one on San Vicente.

              1. re: a_and_w

                another vote for peet's. i love the one on san vicente, the baristas are always friendly and helpful.

          2. Manhattan Mudd from Urth Caffe.

            1. I also agree with Peets for a dark roast. If they don't have what you want brewing, they will whip up a french press of the coffee of your choice. They charge you for a custom brew, but it is worth it to have what you want. I am a dark roast lover...weak coffee is a bummer!

              2 Replies
              1. re: carriedushey

                Thanks for the tip! I had no idea that they would do that - definitely going to try that next time I'm there.

                1. re: Vaya Con Carne

                  Peets is High Octane and love my drive to work with it in hand.

              2. You may have tried these, but I love the New Mexico Pinon and the Volcano coffees from TJ's.

                2 Replies
                1. re: teach

                  The Volcano is good, you're right. Haven't tried the Pinon, but will.

                  Trouble with TJs is their burr grinders are always in awful shape and don't grind very fine, which makes it tough for those of us who don't have our own.

                  1. re: Vaya Con Carne

                    TJ's Dark Sumatra (one of their Ultra Dark Roast Blends) does it for me, especially if you make it just a little strong--I do 3 scoops/cup as opposed to the "normal" 2.

                    all of my strong coffee lovin' friends that I make a cup for are impressed, and ask what kind of coffee I use, presumably off to buy a can for themselves. it's relatively cheap, too.