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LA coffee scene: are we at the start of a revolution?

keepon Aug 19, 2011 02:16 PM

Craft beer has finally caught on in LA with the explosion of beer bars where having 15 beers on tap is the bare minimal. Coffee, on the other hand, is growing but at a much slower rate. In the past year quite a few good coffee places popped up around LA - so are we at the start of a coffee revolution?

This is just a list of coffee shops that I like
Downtown
Demitasse - Open this week, brewing Equator coffee with pastries from Farmshop.
Spring for Coffee - Tiny NY style coffee shop, carries Blue Bottle & Stumpstown
Coffee Bar LA - Nice space, variety of beans from SF & Oregon
Cafe Dulce - Little Tokyo
Chimney Coffee - Very odd location, but they have my favorite Counter Culture Coffee

"East"side
Cognoscenti Coffee - Atwater Village. Carries 4 Barrel, my favorite coffee shop in LA
Broome Street General Store - Gimme Coffee
Cafecito Organico
La Mill - Coffee a bit hit and miss, always experimental
Intelligensia

"West"side
Cafe Tomo - Sawtelle, roasted bean in house
Balconi Cafe - Sawtelle
Espresso Cielo - Santa Monica, 49th Parallel beans from Vancouver
Conservatory - Culver City. OK, other places are blowing them away but I love the mom and pop feel
Profeta - Westwood, Vivaca bean
Coffee Commissary

Further away
Klatch - San Dimas, they are just so far away...
Portola Coffee Lab - Costa Mesa. OK I haven't been but heard a lot of good things about it.

Mobile
Drip Bar - Blue Bottle at Farmer's Market near you
Handsome Roaster - Newest additional to LA coffee scene, love their beans!!!

-----
Little Tokyo Restaurant
150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

Tomo
18707 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91324

Espresso Cielo
3310 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Coffee Commissary
801 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Portola Coffee Lab
3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

  1. TonyC Sep 15, 2011 10:08 AM

    Q:
    Anyone been to Tiago Espresso Bar?

    Or have news on the upcoming Angela's Coffee?

    6 Replies
    1. re: TonyC
      a
      AAQjr Sep 15, 2011 10:42 AM

      I may have mentioned it once in another thread, but I sometimes work in the area (by Tiago) and was surprised to find good pour over and espresso in that area of Hollywood. It's not really a place you can just drop by unless you work or live in that area due to the horrendous parking situation in Hollywood but I think they otherwise stack up very well.

      1. re: AAQjr
        a
        AAQjr Sep 16, 2011 11:53 PM

        Just went by today and they were carrying beans from Handsome roasters as well as Ecco Cafe from Santa Rosa and Intelli. They pull nice shot.

        1. re: AAQjr
          keepon Sep 21, 2011 10:50 AM

          Thanks for the tip! Will try out Tiago if I happen to be in the hood

          Agree that Handsome needs time to stabilize quality: it can range from sublime to hmm... I don't care where my coffee is from as long as it's good, but it'll be cool to have a good local roaster that we can proud of.

          1. re: keepon
            a
            AAQjr Sep 21, 2011 04:50 PM

            My recommendation is to call and ask about parking. Maybe they validate in the building or in the parking lot behind. I work in the area a vez en cuando and one day it took me 50 minutes to drive in from westchester and another 50 minutes to find street parking! There are some lots in the area, but they all charge tourist prices.

            1. re: AAQjr
              TonyC Sep 22, 2011 10:29 AM

              Ugh. Thanks for the ECCO bean AND the parking tip. That's insane.

              1. re: TonyC
                a
                AAQjr Sep 22, 2011 04:03 PM

                it's not always that bad, but it's never good. Street sweeping mondays and tuesdays are the worst days around there.

                It's worth checking out, but def call about parking first.

      2. f
        Fats Burgundy Sep 14, 2011 06:19 PM

        Thanks for the responses... I didn't mean to sound like a jerk in my OP. Personally, I just like to support local roasters and while many out of town roasters are good-amazing, there are a few reasons why I'd rather support local roasters:

        1. Brand names are just that. What good coffee boils down to is: a) bean & b) roast.
        2. Shipping adds time, cost, and waste.
        3. I'd rather see LA develop it's own Stumptowns, Blue Bottles, etc. than becoming some mish-mash of out of town 'brands'.

        >>I can't speak for all roasters who ship their roasted beans, but I do know Blue Bottle and Stumptown ship their roasted beans at the end of the day via one-two day express to restaurants and coffee houses that I frequent. The beans are then usually consumed within three-four days after they've been received. I think that window of time is reasonable, but it sounds like you're extremely particular about your beans, so YMMV.<<

        Yeah, that time window is of course fine. Like I said, some beans improve with rest. I've roasted Ethiopian Harar that was better nearly a month after roasting. Yemeni coffee and some others require more rest. But from my own experience I believe the vast majority of beans peak in aromatics & complexity within 48 hrs of being roasted. I'm talking about drip here, not espresso. Espresso is a whole other story.

        >>I do *not* home roast (I know, that may already put me at a disadvantage in your eyes), but EVERY roaster from whom I buy my beans ships their beans to me the day they are roasted....
        As for cafés/coffee houses that do not roast their own beans, there are several places here in Northern California that do an excellent job by "rotating" their selections from various small roasters -- this week they may be serving (e.g.) Ritual, next week Verve, and so on *OR* they may indeed feature one roaster's beans in general, but have a "guest" roaster as a single origin espresso, a special pour-over selection, etc. for the week<<

        Not home roasting doesn't put you at a disadvantage... There are plenty of professional roasters who burn the crap out of their beans or don't know what they're doing... Everyone has a personal preference. I like shops that rotate the roasters... For instance, CoffeebarLA carries a number of different beans - (FourBarrel, Ecco, AND the new guys Handsome Roasters) Maybe that just highlights the fact that there aren't really any LA roasters with the same name/ media presence/ cult following as folks like Blue Bottle, YET. I think Klatch is getting there but they're kind of in the boonies. I think Handsome Roasters have a lot of media attention at the moment but was not personally impressed with their beans.

        >>Well, OK, you apparently have me at a disadvantage: I have never visited a café/coffee house where someone has told me, or even implied, that "a Hario drip [or even a Buono kettle] is the only way to brew."<<

        We must go to different places, as I've heard so many barista's at 'drip bars' swear that the only way to get a good cup is with a Buono kettle, as all the others either don't have a steady pour or the water splashes out. Or that you have to pour in a clockwise swirl. SO ridiculous.

        I didn't mean to sound like I want to boycott any roaster not from LA. I have and occasionally buy beans from places like Vivace, Sweet Marias (roasted), 49th Parallel, or anyone that might sound like they have awesome coffee. I think over the past few months I've just become sick of seeing every new third wave pop up serving coffee from bay area/ other roasters and wonder why they don't support local. Maybe because no one here is really stepping it up and that will change in time... Guess we'll see.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Fats Burgundy
          z
          zin1953 Sep 15, 2011 08:45 AM

          Random thoughts . . .

          >>> I like shops that rotate the roasters... For instance, CoffeebarLA carries a number of different beans - (FourBarrel, Ecco, AND the new guys Handsome Roasters) Maybe that just highlights the fact that there aren't really any LA roasters with the same name/ media presence/ cult following as folks like Blue Bottle, <<<

          In the FWIW Dept., while Blue Bottle was one of (if not THE) first of the new group of small speciality roasters, they have slipped considerably in the eyes of many in the SF Bay Area -- or, perhaps, it's that everyone else is better . . . but Four Barrel, Ritual, Sightglass (all in SF), Verve (Santa Cruz) -- among others -- are all widely considered better.

          >>> 1. Brand names are just that. What good coffee boils down to is: a) bean & b) roast. <<<
          While I certainly agree with a) and b), I'd like to point out the obvious: that there are brands (Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Starbucks), and then there are brands (Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Vivace), and then there are brands (Verve, Redbird, Four Barrel). The difference here is primarily volume -- perhaps akin to Gallo, Beringer, and that small producer that makes <1,000 cases per year. Small does not automatically mean better, that's not my point; rather it's that there are a number of small roasters/producers laboring in near-obscurity, and then there are BRANDS! Both have trademarks, but . . .

          >>> 2. Shipping adds time, cost, and waste. <<<
          Are we speaking globally? As in the increased carbon footprint of the USPS/UPS/FedEx truck bringing the coffee to my front door (versus me driving to the store)? Yes, it's true that I can drive down the street to the original Peet's (as an example), and be back home within 15 minutes (depending upon how long the line is), versus sitting in front of my computer Sunday night and placing an order that will arrive on Wednesday. OTOH, the coffee I get delivered on Wednesday will actually be fresher -- closer to the roast date of Monday -- than will that coffee I buy at Peet's (or Blue Bottle, which is a 20-25 minute drive), etc., etc.

          And as far as costs are concerned, it actually saves me money -- I'm paying as little as $10.30 per pound delivered . . . obviously this varies with the roaster and specific coffee.

          >>> 3. I'd rather see LA develop it's (sic) own Stumptowns, Blue Bottles, etc. than becoming some mish-mash of out of town 'brands'. <<<
          I admire the concept and the idea behind it, but I'd rather drink good coffee. If that's from an out-of-town roaster, so be it.

          >>> I've heard so many barista's at 'drip bars' swear that the only way to get a good cup is with a Buono kettle, as all the others either don't have a steady pour or the water splashes out. Or that you have to pour in a clockwise swirl. SO ridiculous. <<<
          Agreed, but perhaps that's the difference between LA and SF Bay Area . . . who knows.

          >>> I think over the past few months I've just become sick of seeing every new third wave pop up serving coffee from bay area/ other roasters and wonder why they don't support local. Maybe because no one here is really stepping it up and that will change in time... <<<
          My first thought would be that, perhaps, the "new pop-up" feels that there is no local roaster worth "hitching their wagon to" and/or the popularity/fame/attraction in carrying the out-of-town, "imported," "designer label" coffee outweighs the local aspect . . . who knows?

          At least it's not Illy or Lavzza!

          Cheers,
          Jason

          1. re: zin1953
            c
            carter Sep 15, 2011 02:13 PM

            >>> I like shops that rotate the roasters... For instance, CoffeebarLA carries a number of different beans - (FourBarrel, Ecco, AND the new guys Handsome Roasters) Maybe that just highlights the fact that there aren't really any LA roasters with the same name/ media presence/ cult following as folks like Blue Bottle, <<<

            And speaking of Handsome Roasters, have they actually gotten started, opened, or what is their current status, and in what locale?

            1. re: carter
              Servorg Sep 15, 2011 02:23 PM

              At the moment it seems that they are doing a reverse Carly Simon:

              "I had some dreams they were coffee in my clouds
              Coffee in my clouds, and..."

              Evidently they will be somewhere in the "arts district" downtown...someday soon...

              1. re: carter
                LATrapp Sep 15, 2011 03:24 PM

                You can buy Handsome beans at:

                http://www.baristalab.com/etc/handsom...

                Kinda amusing in the context of this thread....yes, you now can have your local LA beans shipped from LA to wherever you are in LA. Or, give them a call and see if they have any for pickup.

                1. re: LATrapp
                  Servorg Sep 15, 2011 03:35 PM

                  Although their site says the following:

                  "Handsome Coffee

                  We'll be offering Handsome Coffee here when they're available. If none are available try checking back on Mondays and Thursdays. We'll also be tweeting as they come in.

                  There are no products matching the selection."

                  1. re: Servorg
                    LATrapp Sep 15, 2011 03:41 PM

                    Hm, they might just be out. I have ordered and received Handsome beans through Barista Lab although it might have been a month ago. I'd give them a ring.

                  2. re: LATrapp
                    TonyC Sep 15, 2011 03:46 PM

                    Cog Coffee + CoffeeBar are both stocking Handsome, no? By stocking, I mean: if they have it in stock, they have it in stock.

              2. re: Fats Burgundy
                scottca075 Sep 18, 2011 08:16 PM

                So what are your thoughts on Whole Foods, who roasts onsite and you can get beans when they are still warm and some Whole Foods will custom roast for you.

                1. re: scottca075
                  r
                  ristretto Sep 18, 2011 10:33 PM

                  Bear in mind that the roaster is likely following a canned roast profile. Thus the idea of a custom roast is intriguing, but if you can specify a certain roast profile you probably already have your own roaster.

                  The main advantage of WF is that you can try a variety of beans in any quantity you want since you bag your own. And for those WFs that roast onsite, they post roast dates.

              3. f
                Fats Burgundy Sep 12, 2011 05:32 PM

                As a LA native and avid home roaster I always find it hilarious that the majority of newcomers to LA pumping the "third wave" shtick either don't even roast their own beans or pour coffee from out of town roasters (Stumptown, Blue Bottle, etc). No offense to those roasters but by the time the beans are roasted, shipped and shelved they have decreased in peak quality (generally... some beans improve with 4-5 days rest). To make matters worse many of these new barista's don't know the difference between first/ second crack and have people believing pourover on a Hario drip is the only way to brew.

                When I'm not drinking my own beans, I prefer to support local roasters:

                Cafecito Organico - Good affordable drip/ espresso
                Antigua Coffeehouse - Espresso rivals and sometimes bests Intellegentsia
                Premier Brew - Los Feliz Farmer's Market - Great beans for drip at great prices. Unique origins.
                Jones Coffee - Great espresso, drip needs work.
                Handsome Coffee - Think they need more experience roasting.. Was hoping to be impressed but the bag of $20 Guatemalan I got from them was slightly baked.

                Drip Bar closed down and was selling their cart last time I checked. IMO Intelligentsia has been falling off as of late. Have had some 'meh' shots from them recently and they're gouging pretty hard on the prices. Yeah I know coffee futures have skyrocketed but charging $38/ 12oz bag of Kenya is absurd.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Fats Burgundy
                  b
                  bulavinaka Sep 13, 2011 06:57 PM

                  >>No offense to those roasters but by the time the beans are roasted, shipped and shelved they have decreased in peak quality (generally... some beans improve with 4-5 days rest).<<

                  I can't speak for all roasters who ship their roasted beans, but I do know Blue Bottle and Stumptown ship their roasted beans at the end of the day via one-two day express to restaurants and coffee houses that I frequent. The beans are then usually consumed within three-four days after they've been received. I think that window of time is reasonable, but it sounds like you're extremely particular about your beans, so YMMV.

                  1. re: bulavinaka
                    w
                    will47 Sep 14, 2011 01:11 AM

                    While I'm sure some people really do drink that much coffee, I can't imagine most people go through 10-12 oz of beans that fast. In our house (maybe 4-5 small-ish cups a week), it probably takes over a month to go through that much coffee. I think rate of consumption is going to be much more the limiting factor, rather than the amount of time it takes coffee to get from, say, Blue Bottle in SF to Los Angeles (probably next day, even if you just send it first class mail), or even from the Pacific NW.

                    I am not a coffee expert, nor am I the primary coffee drinker in the house, but so far, I do slightly prefer Blue Bottle's beans to those from most of the comparable places here. I accept that peak quality may be within a few days, but good coffee is still probably going to be pretty good after a month, even with less than careful storage.

                    1. re: will47
                      b
                      bulavinaka Sep 14, 2011 06:14 AM

                      >>While I'm sure some people really do drink that much coffee, I can't imagine most people go through 10-12 oz of beans that fast.<<

                      >>...via one-two day express to restaurants and coffee houses that I frequent.<<

                      I never said I or individuals - I specified restaurants/coffee houses that I frequent. They go through enormous amounts of coffee. Venice Grind says they go through at least a couple hundred pounds of Stumptown a week. The typical busy restaurant where diners get to coffee/dessert probably go through 60-80 pounds of beans. The USPS doesn't get involved in these kinds of quantities from notable roasters - strictly via Fedex or UPS.

                      -----
                      Venice Grind
                      12226 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                      1. re: bulavinaka
                        w
                        will47 Sep 14, 2011 07:58 AM

                        I was responding to the person above you.

                        1. re: will47
                          b
                          bulavinaka Sep 14, 2011 11:19 AM

                          Pardon my haste - Sorry...

                  2. re: Fats Burgundy
                    LATrapp Sep 13, 2011 07:11 PM

                    As Bulavinaka stated, a lot of roasters will get the coffee out the same day it's roasted. My current favorite from Montana for example does:

                    http://redbirdcoffee.com/

                    (both the redbird espresso and blue jaguar are excellent

                    )

                    However, the 4-5 days rest that you mentioned is in my opinion usually way to early to use. Personally, I usually start tasting around day 6. Redbird for example can peak as late as 10 days to two weeks after roasting. If you are pulling espresso 4-5 days will usually be too gassy to get any real extraction. I definitely have fun tasting as the coffee peaks and it can be difficult waiting the full 10+ days for some coffees.

                    Fats Burgundy, I am pumped on your local list!! I'm looking forward to trying some of them out. Here's one more to add:

                    http://trysterocoffee.com/

                    1. re: Fats Burgundy
                      z
                      zin1953 Sep 14, 2011 08:30 AM

                      *** Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson . . . Thread Drift Approaching! ***

                      Dear Fats,

                      >>> As a LA native and avid home roaster I always find it hilarious that the majority of newcomers to LA pumping the "third wave" shtick either don't even roast their own beans or pour coffee from out of town roasters (Stumptown, Blue Bottle, etc). No offense to those roasters but by the time the beans are roasted, shipped and shelved they have decreased in peak quality (generally... some beans improve with 4-5 days rest). <<<

                      Well, OK, I an NOT a native of LA -- I moved there when I was 5; but in LA culture, who knows, that might count -- and left when I was 23, BUT . . .

                      I do *not* home roast (I know, that may already put me at a disadvantage in your eyes), but EVERY roaster from whom I buy my beans ships their beans to me the day they are roasted. Using USPS Priority Mail, they arrive 48-72 hours later (i.e.: roasted on a Monday; delivery on Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest). Further, I have yet to meet a coffee bean -- at least for espresso -- that DOESN'T need 4-5 days rest, so the 2-3 day's time in transit works out perfectly!

                      As for cafés/coffee houses that do not roast their own beans, there are several places here in Northern California that do an excellent job by "rotating" their selections from various small roasters -- this week they may be serving (e.g.) Ritual, next week Verve, and so on *OR* they may indeed feature one roaster's beans in general, but have a "guest" roaster as a single origin espresso, a special pour-over selection, etc. for the week

                      There is an inherent *potential* problem with ANY café/coffee house/roaster that the beans will not be as fresh as desired (if not downright stale) by the time they are used. There's that 5-pound bag on the shelf that got buried, only to be discovered 1-2 weeks later; the decaf doesn't get used fast enough; and on and on -- the potential pitfalls are many. This is true whether we're are speaking of Intelligentsia or Jones, Urth or LAMill, Stumptown, Blue Bottle (feh), Vivace, Zoka, Metropolis, Grumpy, Gimme!, or that place on the corner where all the college kids hang out . . . .

                      >>> To make matters worse many of these new barista's don't know the difference between first/ second crack and have people believing pourover on a Hario drip is the only way to brew. <<<

                      Well, OK, you apparently have me at a disadvantage: I have never visited a café/coffee house where someone has told me, or even implied, that "a Hario drip [or even a Buono kettle] is the only way to brew." I've made -- and been served -- stunning cups of pourover, siphon, press, and espresso, as well as many disappointments along the way. But I think there is an inherent difference between the college kid working the espresso machine and someone who *actually* is a barista. In other words, just because you're pulling the shots doesn't make you a barista -- even excluding the World of *$ and all the super-automatics on the planet.

                      Just my 2¢, and worth far less, I'm sure . . .

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953
                        b
                        bulavinaka Sep 14, 2011 11:17 AM

                        Enjoyed Verve a number of times while degassing in laid-back Santa Cruz. Very nice stuff.

                      2. re: Fats Burgundy
                        TonyC Sep 14, 2011 09:03 AM

                        FWIW, a bag of 6 day old Hayes from Blue Bottle pulled a better shot -- to me -- last weekend than any of the "fresh" Handsome (yes, I said Handsome)/Klatch/Jones beans I've been using the last 6 months. You can attribute it to lucky grind/tamp/dose, blah blah blah blah, but it was simply nice.

                        It only takes UPS/FedEx 1-2 days to get from Bay Area to LA, so the transit time is rather moot if they ship at the end of biz day.

                        Just because they're making it in house, doesn't mean they're making it better. This applies to bread, to charcuterie, and it certainly applies to beans.

                        1. re: TonyC
                          b
                          baloney Sep 14, 2011 04:43 PM

                          Agree, I've consistently had better results with the Hayes Valley beans from BB compared to the stuff from Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Conservatory, etc. Heck, I've had some great shots with 2 week old HV beans.

                      3. scottca075 Sep 11, 2011 10:36 AM

                        groundwork is my favorite coffeehouse. I thought the Downtown location had closed, but I guess they just moved from the Traction Ave location to 2nd St.

                        http://www.groundworkcoffee.com/cafes...

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: scottca075
                          c
                          carter Sep 11, 2011 11:36 AM

                          They have been on 2nd Street for at least 2-3 years, as it was that long ago that I first tried their product. Subsequently, Cahuenga/Sunset became the most convenient.

                          1. re: carter
                            scottca075 Sep 11, 2011 04:54 PM

                            I stopped working in Downtown on a daily basis going on six years ago and groundworks was on Traction then across from Crazy Gideon's and just down from an interesting sushi place whose name escapes me. I guess another coffee house, Novel Cafe went in in their old space.

                          2. re: scottca075
                            Peripatetic Sep 11, 2011 02:25 PM

                            I think groundwork is definitely a step up from Starbucks and Coffee Bean, but it's solidly "second wave"[1], and doesn't really aspire to be anything more than that.

                            1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Wa...

                            1. re: Peripatetic
                              b
                              bulavinaka Sep 11, 2011 04:32 PM

                              I have to agree. I applaud them for being a part of the group of coffee houses upping the ante in LA's coffee culture back in the 90s with sourcing multiple varieties of organic beans, small-batch roasting, and more serious coffee brewing methods. But somewhere along the way, they decided to stagnate - at the worst time. Because as they plodded along for a while, seeming happy with where they were, bigger more serious players like LA Mill, Intelligentsia, et al came roaring in, and the smaller places like Tomo, Balconi and Espresso Cielo now are ushering in - what - a forth wave?

                              1. re: Peripatetic
                                scottca075 Sep 11, 2011 04:57 PM

                                You really ought to read your own sources. The Wikipedia article on the "Third Wave" references an LA Times article that identifies groundwork as one of the leaders of the Third Wave in Los Angeles.

                                http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

                                1. re: scottca075
                                  b
                                  bulavinaka Sep 11, 2011 08:21 PM

                                  Sorry - my bad too then for not reading the articles attached to the footnotes and subsequently getting my series of wave screwed up. But the hierarchy still remains the same. Groundwork remains a good neighborhood option (at least for me as a long time worker bee in Venice).

                                  1. re: scottca075
                                    Peripatetic Sep 12, 2011 12:22 AM

                                    > You really ought to read your own sources

                                    Note that I referenced the Wikipedia article, not every source referenced by the Wikipedia article. The Wikipedia article doesn't mention groundwork at all.

                                    > The Wikipedia article on the "Third Wave" references an LA Times article that
                                    > identifies groundwork as one of the leaders of the Third Wave in Los Angeles.

                                    groundwork maybe could have been thought of as "third wave" for the brief time that one location flirted with the Clover (back in 2007, not long after that LA Times article was written), but by 2008 they were firmly in retreat. Here's a 2008 CH thread in which a number of contributors opined that groundwork was going downhill:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/513950

                                    1. re: Peripatetic
                                      c
                                      condiment Sep 12, 2011 12:54 PM

                                      ``Third Wave'' doesn't necessarily mean ``great,'' you know - the term has taken on all kinds of secondary resonance, but refers basically to the specific provenance of the beans and the effort to preserve terroir. Groundworks pays a great deal of attention to that.

                                      Graffeo, which roasts and sells just dark, light and decaf, is the farthest thing from Third Wave, for example, and its coffee is just great.

                                      1. re: condiment
                                        Peripatetic Sep 12, 2011 01:18 PM

                                        > ``Third Wave'' doesn't necessarily mean ``great,'' you know

                                        Totally agree. I'm not very comfortable with the term, or the somewhat equivalent "artisan coffee". However it's a convenient taxonomy for classifying the aspiration of an establishment, and I don't think that groundwork aspires to the same level of excellence as places like Intelligentsia or Coffee Conservatory. The baristas don't receive nearly as much training, the coffee isn't sourced and roasted with as much care, and it's evident in the final product.

                                        On the other hand, I do think Funnel Mill aspires to be "third wave", but I've been consistently disappointed by their coffee. So indeed, "third wave" doesn't necessarily mean ``great".

                                        1. re: condiment
                                          c
                                          carter Sep 15, 2011 10:10 AM

                                          Graffeo coffee may be great, but you now have to get it mail order only, as the BH store closed about 6 or so months ago.

                                        2. re: Peripatetic
                                          scottca075 Sep 12, 2011 12:59 PM

                                          Sorry, you don't get off that easily. The authoritativeness of Wikipedia rests on the references for any article. Anyone can write anything they want which is why Wikipedia asks for citations.

                                          You are free to change your tune now and try to qualify or justify your belief, but your reference says otherwise.

                                          1. re: scottca075
                                            Peripatetic Sep 12, 2011 01:09 PM

                                            > Sorry, you don't get off that easily.

                                            Let's just leave it at this: I don't think that groundwork is one of the shining beacons of the LA coffee scene. I'll avoid any confusing references.

                                            1. re: Peripatetic
                                              Servorg Sep 12, 2011 01:17 PM

                                              After getting served with the forthcoming subpoena your testimony at the deposition will take care of this matter once and for all... ;-D>

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                Peripatetic Sep 12, 2011 01:22 PM

                                                I'm so _not_ going there! :)

                                  2. b
                                    bakeanything Sep 10, 2011 11:51 PM

                                    Sorry if this was a little too late, but I just moved to SM a couple of months ago. Not as new but the coffee scene here is epic and i love it. Not so sure about the ratings for the app. Though I tried various places on the list, my favourite is still Balconi coffee company. Any takers?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bakeanything
                                      J.L. Sep 21, 2011 04:53 PM

                                      Just went to Balconi last weekend. Watching owner/proprietor/grinder/barista Ray Sato at work with his brewing siphons reminds me of an artist in his atelier. Great place for coffee.

                                    2. j
                                      jadekarrde Aug 25, 2011 05:35 PM

                                      There's a silly new smart phone app (for iphone and android) called LA's Best Coffee. It doesn't include everything yet, but it's a fairly decent list of coffee houses, with user ratings etc. It's a pretty stripped down app, and I'm not sure if its fair to charge for such a limited piece of software, but for a dollar it was worth it for me for the opportunity to chime in with my ratings and it's just nice to have a collection of coffee places listed.

                                      1. keepon Aug 25, 2011 08:09 AM

                                        So glad to see Oliver Strand covering LA coffee scene in NYT! Check this out!

                                        http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/20...

                                        1. r
                                          rezpeni Aug 23, 2011 07:55 PM

                                          I really wish this were true but I have yet to find a roaster in LA who can compete with my favorites from SF, Blue Bottle and Sightglass.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: rezpeni
                                            s
                                            sushigirlie Aug 25, 2011 06:03 AM

                                            You might try:

                                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/spring-for-co...

                                          2. l
                                            lapizzamaven Aug 23, 2011 01:04 PM

                                            Was dyin' for a cuo 'o coffee sat nite in Little Tokyo...tea, tea everywhere but not a drop of the bean. then i spotted Demitasse...theyve just opened and my experience was like stumbling on an oasis in the midst of the Mojave. kool people, space, good choices and excellent pastries. and a welcome sight in that part of town!

                                            1. scarmoza Aug 23, 2011 11:52 AM

                                              You forgot Cafe de Leche in Highland Park (Stumptown Coffee)

                                              -----
                                              Cafe De Leche
                                              5000 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: scarmoza
                                                TonyC Aug 23, 2011 12:17 PM

                                                I don't think keepon "forgot" any.

                                                He's just listing joints that he likes, that he frequents. Both LAW and LAT have "complete" lists.

                                                For Sunday mornings, I like Chimney, because their pastries are redick.

                                                For late evenings, nothing beats IOTA for the wackiness.

                                                If I didn't have to find parking, or if on 2 wheels, I'd do a single pull at Spring for Coffee (because they measure every dose of their espresso) and then finish off with some "regular" coffee at Coffee Bar's patio.

                                                To escape work, if I had to, I'd run off to Daily Dose. It feels like no one can ever find you. At least neither the SO nor the CEO.

                                                dulce/demitasse's hype is overwhelming. I don't get it.

                                              2. v
                                                vinosnob Aug 23, 2011 10:57 AM

                                                Regarding Conservatory in CC, who is blowing them away on the westside?

                                                I have issues with their staff when it comes to recommending coffee. Really, the guy who roasts the coffee is the only person to talk with when buying beans.

                                                Recently, I purchased ground beans at Intelligensia. I know I know, blasphemous, but they're vacuum packed until I get a proper burr grinder.

                                                The staff there thinks they know my espresso machine better than I do. I went back two times and they still couldn't get the grind right; that doesn't happen at Conservatory. And, for $20/lb, it shouldn't happen at all.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: vinosnob
                                                  a
                                                  AAQjr Aug 23, 2011 02:13 PM

                                                  No one in my opinion, they are still the best beans around. Their drip and pour over is also second to none. The espresso greatly depends on the barista; I still think Luxxe serves the best espresso on the west side.

                                                  1. re: vinosnob
                                                    p
                                                    poser Aug 23, 2011 08:01 PM

                                                    There is no 'right grind' for yours or any other espresso machine. I don't know what kind of machine you are using now, but without an espresso quality grinder (not just any burr grinder) you are throwing away your money.

                                                    1. re: poser
                                                      v
                                                      vinosnob Aug 24, 2011 10:20 AM

                                                      Wrong.

                                                      There is most certainly a "right" grind for any machine and mine (gaggia) has one. I've done the research using the same professional espresso grinder (at Conservatory) and found my machine's sweet spot.

                                                      1. re: vinosnob
                                                        LATrapp Aug 24, 2011 11:34 AM

                                                        I think maybe what poser was referring to is that the grind setting for any specific machine is a moving target that needs to take into account bean roast level, roast date, dosage, your tamp level and of course the water pressure that also can vary from machine to machine. Especially if it is plumbed. The fact that pre-ground beans deteriorate so much more rapidly means that you also have a much tighter window in which that grind will 'work'.

                                                        Trying to walk into a store and ask them to grind a batch for your particular machine is a very inexact science at best. The only thing that would make it easier is if the beans are less fresh (10-14 days or more) and more stable.

                                                        If I had a coffee shop and someone walked in asking for pre-ground, less fresh is exactly what I would give them. Not to give them inferior coffee, but it would be a much more predictable and dependable grind.

                                                        1. re: LATrapp
                                                          v
                                                          vinosnob Aug 24, 2011 02:53 PM

                                                          Your response is appreciated.

                                                          If you read my first post, you'd see I'm well aware of the downfall of buying ground beans, but that's what I'm stuck with at the moment until I get a proper espresso grinder I can use at home.

                                                          Secondly, as I mentioned before, I have my go-to coffee shop (Conservatory) where I purchase beans routinely and I know exactly the type of grind setting I need (down to the grind level/number) that works best for my machine.

                                                          Obviously, if I walked into a brand new shop, it would most likely be a different experience since that shop could be using an entirely different grinder; not to mention different beans, roasting levels, etc etc as you aptly pointed out.

                                                          Bottom line is the hipster douchebag at Intelligensia steered me wrong on two occasions and blatantly ignored what I told him to do with regard to the grind setting.

                                                          1. re: vinosnob
                                                            TonyC Aug 24, 2011 03:31 PM

                                                            I hate to say this... but a lot of us are thinking the same:
                                                            Trusting entire bags of coffee to be ground by the bean seller is suicide and counter intuitive.

                                                            While it's great Conservatory lucked out with its bean/grind setting, the actual chance Intelli can determine, even with your expert guidance, the proper grind setting, without looking at your extraction -- btw, by no means am I an expert home barista, my Pasquini's all leaky right now & my freshest beans are a month old -- is realistically nil.

                                                            Grinders are expensive as sin, but blaming hipsters douches for setting the wrong grind level is... a bit unfair, as the task should never be theirs.

                                                            1. re: TonyC
                                                              v
                                                              vinosnob Aug 24, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                              Again, I hear you about the ground beans; re-read my posts, I've agreed twice now!!

                                                              However, I disagree with regard to your comments about Intelligensia.

                                                              I'm paying $20lb; they should listen to their customer. It's that simple. But, I know they're the "cool" coffee shop so I expect them to be defended.

                                                              BTW, Conservatory isn't "lucky"; they are interested in listening and helping with getting the right coffee for your machine.

                                                    2. re: vinosnob
                                                      s
                                                      sushigirlie Aug 24, 2011 06:24 AM

                                                      I personally like Intelligentsia's beans better, because I like their bright berry and citrus flavors, and in my experience the Conservatory's beans just don't have that. The Conservatory's beans have a tasty roasted nuttiness I like, but they aren't fruity or complex. Am I wrong?

                                                      1. re: sushigirlie
                                                        keepon Aug 24, 2011 06:46 AM

                                                        I think it's just a matter of personal taste. Intelligensia's beans tends to be bolder & have higher acidity - good, but I prefer beans that are lightly roasted with lighter flora note like Ecco coffee. Some people like their beans more nutty, chocolate in flavor. Also brewing method determines which beans will work better for you.

                                                        1. re: sushigirlie
                                                          j
                                                          jadekarrde Aug 24, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                          Depends on the bean, I've had fruity and complex Sulawesi, Candelaria, and Malabar and others at conservatory. Their standard Peru, Bolivia etc aren't as acidic/bright/fruity and are more nutty. Talk to the guy who roasts them. :)

                                                          1. re: jadekarrde
                                                            v
                                                            vinosnob Aug 24, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                            "Depends on the bean, I've had fruity and complex Sulawesi, Candelaria, and Malabar and others at conservatory. Their standard Peru, Bolivia etc aren't as acidic/bright/fruity and are more nutty. Talk to the guy who roasts them. :)"

                                                            +1 You MUST talk with the guy who roasts the beans; the other staff are not as knowledgeable.

                                                      2. a
                                                        andytseng Aug 23, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                        Whatever it is that we're in the midst of... it's all good.

                                                        Just to add my 2 cents... I stopped by Portola Coffee Lab on the way to South Coast Plaza a few weeks ago. The coffee was very solid. The cappuccino can't really compete with Intelligentsia's (but it's hard to for me). The pastries were meh. I have no idea how they're going to survive in a plaza that is 3/4 empty. Maybe there are more people there during the day?

                                                        If I lived in the area, I would probably frequent it.

                                                        1. LATrapp Aug 22, 2011 10:16 PM

                                                          I'm not exactly sure who is on what wave but Intelligentsia has been doing some pretty rocking things at their new weekly themed slow bar in venice. This week, they are focusing on different milks such as macadamia nut milk, etc. Last week, the theme was 90's rock.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: LATrapp
                                                            Servorg Aug 23, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                            "This week, they are focusing on different milks such as macadamia nut milk, etc. Last week, the theme was 90's rock."

                                                            I can see how a theme of different milks fits. On the other hand, unless they are talking the kind of rock you smoke and how long it keeps you up vs their triple espresso, I am failing to see how 90's rock fits as a "theme" for their business? Or are they simply using the "theme" idea as a marketing gimmick to try and draw more customers and don't really care if it segues into coffee?

                                                            1. re: Servorg
                                                              LATrapp Aug 23, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                              Basically, they let one barista curate or handle the slow bar for the week. They pick the theme, they craft the menu, choose the beans, and handle the customers. I think it's great to give an employee that kind of freedom and the ability to showcase their personal style.

                                                              90's rock was one barista's vision for one week. If it's not your jam, so be it. If it was a flop, oh well, on to the next week. Marketing gimmick? Sure, but no more so than any of the other x-wave houses out there that roll out a chemistry set every time you order up a cup of coffee.

                                                              1. re: LATrapp
                                                                keepon Aug 23, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                                I always love the Slow Bar, debuted when Intelli Venice opened a few years ago but that quickly got pulled. So I'm glad it's back - for me it's not about the coffee itself, but a chance to see how the barista can indulge in their own coffee fantasy and be themselves is really cool. Especially when the crowd is just overwhelming these days.

                                                          2. b
                                                            Bradbury Aug 22, 2011 09:48 PM

                                                            A few others I'd suggest (with appropriate caveats):

                                                            Catalina (Redondo Beach): dark drips are better than their espresso drinks, nice ambience

                                                            Jones (Pasadena): great cappuccinos, need to rethink their seating layout

                                                            Coffee By The Books (Pasadena): good espresso roasts from Klatch, zero ambience, fascinating bookstore

                                                            Alana's (mobile): beans only, specializes in nutty Central American medium roasts

                                                            Motley (Scripps College, Claremont): surprisingly good, Klatch roasts, don't go alone if you're a 25+ maie and don't want to look like a desperado...

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bradbury
                                                              r
                                                              ristretto Aug 23, 2011 01:47 PM

                                                              I'd consider Catalina more of a neighborhood hangout than "third wave" , though I do buy beans from them in a pinch since they roast their own.

                                                              Neighborhood Grinds in North Redondo would definitely fit the bill, however. Siphon brewing (not sure if they still do that), pourovers, latte art, etc. By far the best in the South Bay.

                                                              Green Roast Coffee in So. Redondo opened up a few months ago. Roasts their own organic beans, V60 pourovers. Still getting to know their way around, hope they succeed.

                                                              1. re: ristretto
                                                                b
                                                                buttermarblepopcorn Aug 24, 2011 05:35 AM

                                                                Ooh, thanks for the tips, ristretto. I had no idea these two coffee places existed; the South Bay is sorely in need of cafes like these!

                                                            2. ellaystingray Aug 22, 2011 03:54 PM

                                                              J.L., I think I disagree.

                                                              I just went to Demitasse over the weekend--the ice coffee was fantastic (no Kyoto style--coming--but I was still super pleased), the prices were reasonable considering the quailty and presentation and they were SO NICE! Absolutely zero douchebaggery. And I think this means something.

                                                              Maybe we are seeing more of an evolution than a revolution, but good things are afoot. When places are popping up all over the greater Southland area providing good product, properly made, at reasonable prices, with thoughtful sourcing/methods/presentation and limited pomposity...we are really getting somewhere.

                                                              Keepon though, I notice (possibily on purpose) what I consider a glaring hole in your omission of Caffe Luxxe for the Westside list. Say what you will about prices or people or ambieance or whatever at a various coffee shops--preferences are very personal IMO on stuff like this, especially if you usually visit them half awake in the morning, so I get it--but I think they do a pretty darn good job. At least good enough to make your roster. It also doesn't hurt that they've helped put L.A. on the map over the last couple years at the best barista competitions...

                                                              -----
                                                              Caffe Luxxe
                                                              11973 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                              1. J.L. Aug 19, 2011 07:29 PM

                                                                No. But we ARE at the cusp of a whole new wave in $15/hr. foot massage parlors... :-/

                                                                Kind of like where food trucks were 2-3 years ago... "Hey! They opened a ___! Well, I'm going to open a _____ also!"

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