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
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
Cognoscenti Coffee - Atwater Village. Carries 4 Barrel, my favorite coffee shop in LA
Broome Street General Store - Gimme Coffee
La Mill - Coffee a bit hit and miss, always experimental
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
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.
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
18707 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91324
3310 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
801 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Portola Coffee Lab
3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
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!"
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...
11973 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
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...
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.
"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?
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.
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.
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.