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Intelligentsia Venice now open

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finally, over half a year behind.

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  1. Just had a latte and a cookie here. Latte was great, on par with Cafe Luxxe on Montana. Servers were friendly and the inside is very welcoming with lots of places to sit. I'm very excited to have good coffee on abbot kinney.

    1. Would be interested in hearing any reports on their espresso shots at this location. Ristretto feedback gets bonus points!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joe Blowe

        Just had a black cat ristretto. Black cat is their espresso blend, they also offer non-blends. It was a good shot, it had a nice thick crema and just a bit less body than ideal. Overall a very good shot.

      2. Finally made it there today.

        I had a single origin espresso, the Anjilanaka from Bolivia, pulled by Gabe. Delicious, with green apple or green grape notes, and good sweetness. Pulled as, more or less, a normale, instead of ristretto.

        I think people are a little confused by the lack of an obvious queue... baked goods look delicious.

        The state of coffee in LA still has a long way to go, as I see almost all milk drinks going out at Intelligentsia and Luxxe, and hearing customers who want mochas.

        23 Replies
        1. re: jaykayen

          i tried it last week and ordered their decaf coffee.
          it was ground and brewed to order.
          with all that care going into the preparation, i don't understand why it didn't taste great.
          to my palate, the coffee tasted as though it was made with water that was a tad too hot; there was an overlay of bitterness that did not belong there.

          if i had one of the milky drinks, i might not have noticed. . . .

          1. re: westsidegal

            What is the protocol in this case?

            I feel like, perhaps, if they're not busy, I'll tell them it tastes bitter, and order another one and ask for them to bring down the temperature by 1 degree.

            1. re: jaykayen

              my protocol will be to say that i just won't go there in the future.

              imho, at their prices, and with the huge capital investment they've made, i shouldn't have to work with them to 'get it right.'

              1. re: westsidegal

                Not sure if they'd be happy to work with you or not...at the Silver Lake location, they were just pulling BC Classic, which is not a blend that I like (tastes sour to me) and there's just nothing they can do if I want espresso.

                I know if I were behind the bar and a customer had an issue with their coffee that I could potentially fix, I would. It's one thing for a customer to have an issue when there is a disconnect between what they ordered and what they think they ordered, and another matter when it's something the barista might be able to fix.

                While I'd hope to deliver a perfect product every time, feedback from people who are drinking the stuff can be useful, too.

                Not in the business or anything, just how I would handle things if I were behind the bar (dreaming!)

                1. re: westsidegal

                  A couple of assumptions on my part:

                  They're a work-in-progress - the staff is still working out issues with their new set-ups. Talking briefly with a couple of guys leading to the opening, they said that there's really no formula to their shops, which obviously offers pluses and minuses. They don't have many units to begin with and no previous blueprint to go off of. Give them time and I think they'll get it right.

                  Decaf - maybe not their forte? But without appropriate feedback - which I feel you are well-equipped to give - they won't know anything is wrong. Maybe the beans? Maybe the water temp? What ever the issue(s) might have been, I don't think they want to serve you a bad cup. And if there ever was anyone who could offer them a constructive opinion that would drive the point across, you are one of the first who would come to mind. I always respect your opinion, and something like a good cup of coffee at Intelligentsia would seem to be a given, decaf or not, so give them your much-valued side of things...

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    you are too kind with your vote of confidence.
                    maybe the next time i find myself in venice i'll give it another shot (literally AND figuratively).. . .

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Seriously - you don't just blow off a place and call it crap - you are very specific as to why something didn't agree with you, whether it was a particular item, a particular part of that item, the service issue, etc. You give credit where credit is due, but you don't pull any punches when something just doesn't cut it either.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        i DIDN'T call it crap.
                        i DID give credit where it was due.
                        i only tried one item, which happens to be the only item that i would ever order there. i didn't care for it.
                        are you saying i OWE them my business?
                        are you saying that i owe it to them to have waited in that long line for a second time in order to give them feedback that they may or may not have wanted?

                        i would have felt that obligation for a restaurant that is in my regular rotation, but not for a place that i tried for the first time.
                        honestly, do you do that every time you get something in a restaurant that doesn't appeal to you? if so, my hat's off to you.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I think she was complimenting you.

                          1. re: jaykayen

                            if that's the case, then i've completely misinterpreted the post.
                            my apologies, then

                            1. re: jaykayen

                              >>I think she was complimenting you.<<

                              Yes, I was!

                              I'm not a she - unless you want me to... :)

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                my sincere apologies for completely misinterpreting.
                                be a he please

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  No sweat... By the by - I know that in Latin-centric LA, an "a" at the end of a name often implies the feminine, as opposed to an "o" for masculine. "bula vinaka" is a Fijian term which literally translates to "hello - thank you," but most in Fiji use this phrase as a hearty welcome to guests, roughly meaning, "thank you for coming and welcome!" I'm typing this in a deep voice... :)

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          Plz see poster latindancer's entry below - there is a common thread here...

                        3. re: bulavinaka

                          Thought the coffee was good but it will be interesting to see how the layout works out. People were a little confused when I was there and the short line ended up out the door since people weren't really sure how to line up.

                          One big plus is the baked goods. A huge improvement over Silverlake. The Venice location has a nice look, but it would be nice to have some tables rather than "benches". I'm not really a bench person.

                          1. re: bsquared2

                            i believe the benches were intstalled instead of tables so that people would be discouraged from sitting around for hours working on their computers while nursing a $4 cup of coffee.
                            i completely agree with you, though, the benches are uncomfortable

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I'll always regret Peet's getting WiFi since when I go there, there is no place to sit. Seems like people are sitting there all day in some locations. I think they were one of the last ones to jump on the free WiFi bandwagon and now it is just like going to a Starbucks, even though I still like the coffee better.

                              1. re: bsquared2

                                i completely agree with you about the superior quality of peets relative to starbucks.
                                the peets near my house (lincoln blvd and mindinao in marina del rey) has always brewed a much-better-than-solid cup of coffee. their tables are tiny/tiny to discourage the computer crowd, i guess.
                                on the other hand the peets in westwood (westwood blvd near santa monica blvd) has never brewed even a good cup of coffee for me.
                                it's so strange, from the taste alone, you would never guess that these shops are using the same beans and brewing methods. . .

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Maybe one of the locations is busier and they go through the drip coffee quickly.I know Peets say they throw the coffee away after a half hour, but you know with the economy and all........

                                  1. re: chipman

                                    Same thing with the Tarzana location - never had a really good coffee drink of any sort there. Always been better at the Studio City and Montana Ave. stores...

                                    1. re: Pumpkin_Head

                                      Yes, Studio City is one of the best stores in the LA area, while Tarzana, BH and Westwood Village are not really up to company standards.

                                    2. re: chipman

                                      I don't buy into 'the economy' excuse.
                                      If a company wants to expand then there's an automatic assumption they know their market and location.
                                      As a consumer of either food, coffee or whatever it is I, the consumer, want quality. It's not my problem if they're not running on the standard I've expected from them....
                                      I expect a coffeehouse to be consistent, as a consumer, knowing I'll get the same cup no matter where I travel to.
                                      The same goes for the food.
                                      If it's not there, I won't go.

                                      1. re: chipman

                                        since they ground the beans and brewed the coffee AFTER i ordered it, this is not the source of the problem. . .

                    2. I like the Silverlake location and have always been willing to drive the extra miles in order to purchase their beans and enjoy the coffee drinks there.
                      Today I decided to go to the newly opened Venice location.
                      I buy the Decaf Black Cat Espresso. At home I make a fantastic espresso and Americano with this bean...rich and smooth with a dense caramel crema. I don't understand how my Americano can be better than the one made in their own space with the same bean. The one I purchased today at the Venice location tasted like hot water with a faint taste of
                      coffee. I'm disappointed in that they have had many months to perfect this location before opening it. Before opening they should have hired people with the experience and background in how to make a perfect cup of ANYTHING that is ordered. A good barista knows, by simply observing what a good cup is going to be right after they pull a shot. They will know if they need to start over just by looking at it and, when in doubt, they'll taste it and toss it.
                      It should not be left up to me to tell them that the coffee they prepared for me wasn't up to their standard. I have had, in the past, baristas who've asked me if the shot they pulled for me was to my satisfaction. That didn't happen here.

                      1. I went here last week because I was excited at the prospect of having a slightly more convenient Intelligentsia location (I go to Santa Monica every week, and Silverlake less often) Don't like the layout at all, at one point there were 3 different queues going on. After waiting for several minutes at the front of one and feeling like I was being ignored, I gave up and left, very odd.

                        At first glance, I thought the food offerings seemed better than those served at the Silverlake location, but I don't know, they don't seem to really "match up" with the place (a.k.a. not the kind of stuff I want if I'm just grabbing a cup of coffee or tea) Just my opinion.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Pumpkin_Head

                          >>At first glance, I thought the food offerings seemed better than those served at the Silverlake location, but I don't know, they don't seem to really "match up" with the place (a.k.a. not the kind of stuff I want if I'm just grabbing a cup of coffee or tea) Just my opinion.<<

                          I think they source their baked goods at some pretty reputable places - don't recall who but the names thrown around that are associated with these goods are top-knotch. I'm not sure what time you went, but I think depending on the time and day, it will vary due to when they receive delivery of their goods. I just went this morning around 0730, and they had maybe five offerings in their case. Two varieties of individual brioches, a couple of more cake-like goods, and a type of scone. It looked a little thin in the case, so my assumption was that they had yet to receive their Sunday delivery. Nevertheless, the goods were very edible and went well with the Clover-processed coffee that I ordered.

                          >>I went here last week because I was excited at the prospect of having a slightly more convenient Intelligentsia location (I go to Santa Monica every week, and Silverlake less often) Don't like the layout at all, at one point there were 3 different queues going on. After waiting for several minutes at the front of one and feeling like I was being ignored, I gave up and left, very odd.<<

                          Yeah, the layout is "unique." I think they would benefit everyone if they posted a sign of some sort stating, "start here" by or above the pastry case at the front entrance. I can see when it gets busy there, that the layout will draw customers in around the counter area to the various coffee stations. I've avoided this place unless I can actually look in and see that there is almost no line. In general, the Venice crowd tends to sleep in, so if you can go early, do so. I hope you have a better experience in the future!

                        2. Eh...I tried the Silverlake location and the coffee was good. If I was in the Venice area I would certainly stop by for a cup if I was in the mood to pay too much. However, you want a GREAT cup of coffee, head downtown to Cafe Corsa. Call ahead to make sure their open...they have some odd hours but the coffee NEVER disappoints. Best in LA.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lifeon2whls

                            A few bucks for a great cup of coffee doesn't push my envelope...

                          2. um... wow. I think I'll just stick with GroundWorks up the road a smidge on Rose.... this all sounds WAY to fancy for a guy who worships Dunkin Donuts and Cuban style Cafe Bustelo as the twin pinnacles of coffee culture. Now, you tell me Intellengentsia "pulls" a passable Cafe Colada, and I'll run at a full sprint all the way there.

                            1. I tried to add the place but doesn't seem to be there. It's always nice to add a link when talking about a new place. I live down the road, but had no idea where it was.

                              Intelligentsia coffee: Venice
                              310.399.1233

                              1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd | Venice, CA 90291

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: AAQjr

                                http://www.chow.com/places/55066

                                -----
                                Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
                                1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                1. re: Joe Blowe

                                  Thx

                              2. Great to see all of these varied posts. I wrote about my 6:30 a.m. experience about a week and a half ago and then met a friend there this past Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and, of course, the differences are partly the differences of that area between an early weekday morning and a slightly later weekend morning. Waited about fifteen minutes in line. The coffee was the same, my friend didn't care for her decaf and was somewhat bemused that they didn't have non fat milk; while my latte was pleasant again it still lacked distinctive flavor. We loved the Cake Monkey chocolate brioche muffin and the lovely Comme Ca croissant. The place is new and they have a lot of moving parts right now but it's an odd experience with the lack of chairs and built in Coliseum style steps in the back with cushions that you have to more than step up to with coffee in hand. The kids and their parents next to us loved it, pushing my friend from her seat as if they were in a sandbox and who could blame them. Are we showing our age? Certainly when the DJ behind us started the rock music at 11 a.m. we knew it was time to skidaddle. Geez, what happened to jazz in coffee houses? The staff was friendly and enthusiastic.

                                1. This Venice branch is not for everyone...I wish I can say I like it, but it leaves me with mixed feelings. I went to their boisterous pre-opening party and went there again one afternoon where I ran into several friends and peeps in the hood randomly. While the concept is different from the Silverlake one, the layout in the abbot kinney store seems to try too hard. Its neither here nor there...euro/japanese-inspired coffee bar with no tables or table service and overpriced coffee/tea. Its so precious and fussy for a coffee lab in disguise near the beach.
                                  I understand about the lack of space in the store for proper seatings, but the handsome barista uniform and the bleechers makes the whole experience rather stuffy and sceney.
                                  Maybe I'm not hip enough to get it....but I do enjoy the Silvrlake store, except for their lukewarm service.
                                  Luxxe Caffe on Montana strikes a more balanced tone for a high-end boutique coffee bar in my opinion.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: FFoodie

                                    I finally went the other day. The layout doesn't bother me the line seemed to flow, at least when I was there. The space really appeals to me I love all of the light. My macchiato was excellent, the service was fine, not overly friendly but I don't need that. They seemed to take their job seriously and there was some cupping going on in the back.

                                    On the negative side, like everyone says, the seating is just not comfortable. I wouldn't mind the stadium seating if the bleachers had a bit more depth on each row. It also seems to me that the front area would be much better served by a long communal table. Also I went back and had a clover Guatamala and found it to be more acidic than I like especially at the prices they charge they should be more dialed in.

                                    In summary. I'll go back, but it won't replace The conservatory for Coffee and Tea for my everyday caffeinated beverage

                                  2. Was there again yesterday afternoon.

                                    Started with the Los Immortales, El Salvador as straight espresso from the standard bar. Juicy grape and apple, though I didn't like the bottom notes.

                                    At the slow bar:
                                    Then cupped the Los Immortales, as well as a gorgeous Kenyan and and Costa Rican, sorry, don't remember the estates or varietals. Took the Kenyan as a macchiato, and wow was that smooth and round. LOVE the Barista blend Strauss milk they use, nom nom nom. Could definitely taste the extra fat. Anyway, slow bar is definitely the place to be: no lines, gorgeous single origin, great service.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jaykayen

                                      Now I feel like an oaf. I've been there at least four times and I thought there was just the one line in front. What's the slow bar?

                                      1. re: PlonkMan

                                        The slow bar is the bar area behind all the Synessos, which is anchored by the La Marzocco modded by Espresso Parts. They also serve siphon and other methods.

                                        1. re: jaykayen

                                          Synessos
                                          La Marzocco
                                          modded

                                          Two proper nouns and a verb I clearly need to learn. Thanks.

                                    2. I was there last weekend for the 1st time. It was mellow but the few of us in line were confused as to where to go. Beautiful airy space. I just had a drip coffee which was bitter but I like that they have agave syrup for 25cents. Nice service. I'll go again at some point and have something more exciting than a drip. This won't be my drip go-to. (But I miss Scentiments, it was the best flower shop in Venice.)