Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
May 13, 2010 12:21 AM

Non-espresso coffee in OC/LA

I'm starting to get into more coffee, and I'm interested in learning more about the different ways of preparing non-espresso coffee at home- vacuum/siphon way, french press way, the drip method with hario v60, chemex, etc...

But, I don't want to buy all those different tools for each technique, only to end up learning that I don't like them and ditching them. I want to first try how coffee tastes prepared by those various techniques.

So, I'm looking for a list of coffee shops, preferably in OC, that serve the best version of those methods. I'm a firm believer that before you can write something off, you should try the best possible version of it. And, it would give me an ideal of what to chase for when making coffee at home with that technique.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: nomnomnoms

        If Kean is the place to go for french press, are there any places in OC for all the other various techniques? I remember seeing Kean sell chemexes in their store, although I don't think recall if they sell it chemex-style coffee? Or, is this something I'll just need to drive to LA for?

        And, if I can only find them in LA, any particular coffee shops? The only place I knew in LA that specialized in vacuum coffee was cafe balcony, but I think they're closed.

        1. re: hobbess

          Funnel Mill specializes in siphon.

          Funnel Mill
          930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

          1. re: hobbess

            Eibar Coffee in Santa Ana has V60s. So does Portola Coffee.

      2. Commissary Coffee on Fairfax makes a pretty good hand poured coffee. I've noticed more and more places going for that.

        6 Replies
        1. re: bsquared2

          I think a large part of the trend towards hand poured coffee is a backlash against Clover coffee when Starbucks bought that company. Before then, a lot of those shops were saying how the Clover was the bee's knees.

          1. re: hobbess

            Does anybody know what Intelligentsia's policy is on the different methods they serve coffee?

            I went to their Venice location, which was the closest one to OC, but they were limited in the different methods they served coffee. When their Venice store opened, there was all this PR about all the different styles they were serving-Clover, sipon, chemex, etc..

            If I go to Intelligentsia's Silverlake or other stores, will they also not do siphon coffee as well? I looked at their web page to try to see what they do, and like their Venice store, its kind of confusing what they'll actually serve.

            1. re: hobbess

              Only the Silver Lake location has Clovers. Pasadena and Venice do primarily pour-overs. Pasadena also does siphons. I don't know about Venice or Silver Lake, but I've never noticed siphons at either.

              1. re: hobbess

                Pasadena is the only location of Intelligentsia that does siphon coffee, the others do the Clover stuff (but if starbucks does clover now...)

                1. re: kevin

                  I don't think Venice has a Clover. Just Silver Lake. Silver Lake opened before the Starbucks/Clover tragedy; the other two opened afterwords.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    The Venice location had Clovers when they first opened. I don't know when they chucked them because I haven't been back in a long time. I refuse to wait more than five minutes for a cup.

          2. Kean's does espresso, filter, and French press. Siphon results in pretty much the same flavor as French press, and Chemex is just fancy drip. The thicker paper slows down the filtration time, but you can always grind finer. I got some Ethiopian Sidamo from Kean's for my coffee-novice boyfriend and it was really good stuff!

            The key to answering which you might like to drink is in serving sizes: espresso is 1 oz, FP is 4 oz, and drip is 6-8 oz. Of course, espresso is 1 oz of strongly flavored liquid, drip is the mildest, and FP is somewhere in between. Some people can drink 12 oz of FP, but I can't handle that much caffeine.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jaykayen

              Great information.

              I just wanted to say that if you are tasting to buy, make sure that you budget for a good grinder.

              1. re: AAQjr

                Maybe, any discussion about grinders belong to the cookware section, but I thought that a good grinder was more important for espresso coffee and maybe aeropress and less important for drip and.

                I'm saving Kean for french press, and tried drip with the Hario V60 at Intellegntsia's location.

                I'm also looking for coffee shops that make the best version of iced coffee for hot-brewed iced coffee and cold-brewed iced coffee.

                1. re: hobbess

                  its pretty important for french press, Moka pots too

            2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned LA Mill, which offers its coffees made by a variety of techniques.


              As for Intelligentsia Silver Lake, by default they do some of their coffees with Clover and some with v60 pour over. I don't know whether you can request a non-default method.

              10 Replies
              1. re: sushigirlie

                Does Intelligentsia Silver Lake still use the Clover? I thought that after Starbucks bought up the company that produced the Clover, all the third waves sold off their Clovers because the Clover was too mainstream if Starbucks was going to use it even though these same third waves had been so rapturous about it before.

                1. re: hobbess

                  One of the baristas told me they're phasing out the clover (reason as expressed was that V-60 was better), but I believe they still use the clover for some coffees and V-60 for others. I'll be perfectly honest -- I'm not attentive enough, or my palate is not sensitive enough, to notice the differences between the two.

                  1. re: sushigirlie

                    the intelligentsia barista in venice told me they took out the clovers for two reasons:
                    1) because customers were complaining they couldn't reproduce the results at home when they bought intelligentsia's beans. with a pour over, its easier to reproduce. Ironically I've only gotten indifferent pourover at intelligentsia, but outstanding pourover at Conservatory in culver city. i no longer go to intelligentsia, the lack of clovers make the wait time achingly long and the seating is horrendously uncomfortable (to encourage you to leave faster)

                    2) when starbucks took over Clover's they stopped providing attentive service to the Clover machines (still provided service, they just drug their feet in order to make having one of the machines a colossal pain in the ass to owners) and the machines tended to break down often, according to the barista I talked to.

                    1. re: jadekarrde

                      something tells me that the intelligentsia baristas don't actually know why the intelligentsia managers decided to get rid of clovers.

                      i dislike the seating at intelligentsia venice also.

                      i like the nutty flavor of the conservatory coffees. but i feel that for wine-like complexity, the beans of intelligentsia and la mill can't be beat (except by mail order beans). over time, i acquired the impression that the clover brought out all the complexity of intelligentsia coffee. i don't get the same results in my chemex at home. over time, i'm starting to question whether the pour over method achieves the same results.

                      1. re: jadekarrde

                        After hearing Intelligentsia's reason on why they dropped the clover, it just affirms my belief that there was an underlying snobbery about using the same machine that Starbucks would now be using henceforth.

                        Its not like Intelligentsia is going to stop using a la marzocco espresso machine because customers weren't pulling the same shots at home with their home market espresso machines with Intelli beans.

                        And, if they're that concerned with customers at home replicating the coffee, why not go with a simpler pour over system instead of V60 where you need to scrounge for special filters, need a $50+ buono kettle, need to practice to learn how to correctly pour for the V60, etc..

                        I was picking up some taste notes with Intell's V60 pour technique, but I wasn't so blown away by it that I thought it was worth all that hassle. But, I'll have to give Conservatory a try to give this technique another try.

                        In theory, I support Intelli's decision not to simply replicate the same cookie cutter formula in all their locations. I wanted to like their Venice shop, but I too was turned off by their uncomfortable stadium seating and long line. Its like Intelli was so intent on being different that they went ahead with choices even if those choices didn't make for a better overall experience.

                        1. re: hobbess

                          They're not buying any more machines because Starbucks won't sell them any more machines.
                          Starbucks does not sell the clover.

                          1. re: cls

                            But, the third waves were dropping Clovers they already had in their shops. And, this happened as soon as Starbucks announced they were buying up that company. Maybe, the third waves saw the writing on the wall, but it seemed a bit premature to decide to start dropping the Clovers at that point. Some people have pointed out problems with Starbucks' service, but at that point, those third waves didn't even give Starbucks a chance.

                            The funny thing is that I wouldn't even have wanted to try a Clover if they offered it, but I think getting rid of it hurt even the non-Clover drinkers. The line at Venice was pretty long, over 20 minutes standing in line before you even got the chance to order your coffee.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              where in venice is intelligentsia? i've never noticed it before, has it only been there like a ;year or so.???

                              1. re: kevin

                                It's on the 1300-block of Abbot Kinney, right next to the Bountiful home store (about a half-block north of California on the odd side/east? side of the street). Just look for the frickin' line!

                          2. re: hobbess

                            I don't think it's an issue of snobbery. The clover makes an awesome cup of coffee seem impossible to make at home without shelling out $11,000.

                            The biggest benefits of the clover (temperature control, water flow), can be reproduced without the high cost. It's still a great brew method, but you can get good if not better results at home with a good pour-over like the v60 or clever dripper.

                            I think it's more of an issue of accessibility and practicality. You can either keep shelling out money to maintain the clovers, or find another good method. The v60 takes more skill, and is a slower method but can produce an amazing cup (it can also produce a really gross cup if it's done poorly) at a much lower cost. Phasing out the clover isn't the only solution, but it's a practical one that makes good coffee accessible at the same time.

                  2. Not in OC but LAMill has a great variety of coffee beans an different methods of coffee preparation