Step aside Starbucks, the people of Los Angeles have started to appreciate quality coffee over badly frothed milk and flavor syrups. You can find amazing coffees from small estates, roasted by local sustainable small hipster roasteries, and the variety is not limited to your normal batch brew drip coffee and lattes. Prepare for huge cup sizes, third wave brewing methods, and flocks of people with their MacBooks sipping on their brews. If you are eco-conscious or just dislike sipping your joe from a cardboard takeaway cup, bring your own Keepcup etc. Most cafes pour their beverages to take away cups by default, which is something I don't think I'll ever learn to enjoy.
All over Los Angeles, you can find cold-pressed juices, cold drip coffee on tap, kombucha, and organic food stores. Vegan cafes are aplenty, and some cafes offer matcha instead of espresso in their coffee drinks; almond milk is a commonly given option, but sometimes you have to pay extra for it. Some cool cafes also offer coconut milk, but unlike in Finland, I never encountered oat milk as a dairy-free coffee whitening option. If you go to a basic cafe with only questionable brew coffee as an option, be prepared to drink it black or pour some half&half on it. For all of my non-North-American friends, half&half is half milk, half cream...which I guess makes sense, somehow? Just go to a good cafe and get a good coffee, and don't boggle your mind with the little single-serve cream cups and liquid syrups.
Here are my few caffeine suggestions for sitting down, people watching and soaking the LA vibes in my favorite neighborhoods of Silverlake and Echo Park, where everything is situated pretty much along Sunset Boulevard. This makes for a nice, easy and convenient coffee bar-hopping destination. Below are some suggestions also for Downtown LA.
Intelligentsia Coffee: One of the most popular cafes on Sunset blvd, situated at Sunset Junction, Intelligentsia is great for people watching. They offer direct trade single-origin coffees from a variety of different countries and also have an online coffee subscription service. This coffee institution was founded in Chicago in 1995 and has since expanded to several coffee bars, training labs and roasteries in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Los Angeles. In LA Intelligentsia coffee bars can also be found in Venice and Pasadena. 3922 West Sunset Blvd.
Dinosaur Coffee is a light and airy neighborhood hipster hot spot and meet-up place, that is guaranteed to be filled to the brim on weekends. Great spot for working or catching up with friends, and catering to tea-drinkers as well, Dinosaur Coffee is a great alternative to the cafes at the busier end of Sunset Boulevard. Dinosaur Coffee also hosts events in their space, from the World's Worst Coffee Competition to Coffee industry karaoke night. 4334 West Sunset Blvd.
Alfred Coffee: With the slogan "but first, coffee", Albert Coffee makes it's priorities straight and sets a trend for all self-aware cool LA Instagrammer kids. This hip coffee shop has 6 locations around town. The Sunset blvd location offers mainly coffees in a tiny space with some takeaway healthy snack options. Cool thing is, you can substitute matcha for espresso in lattes and other normally coffee-based drinks. Alfred's ice coffee is strong and not too watery, making you want to actually wait for your ice to melt in case you don't put in any sweetener. 3337 1/2 West Sunset Blvd.
Eightfold Coffee is one of the newest kids on the block in Echo Park. With its' airy interior and white brick walls, it makes for a nice and relaxing spot to pull out your laptop. The owner's designer background shows not only in the sleek interior design of the space but also in the little corner that sells design-related books and magazines. Customers can flip through magazines such as Cereal Drift and The Happy Reader, making Eightfold a dream destination for a lazy rainy afternoon (if such things exist in LA anymore). The coffee on offer is exclusively Heart Roasters from Oregon. Eightfold has an extensive Japanese tea menu, and you might also want to ask about their secret drink menu. 1294 Sunset Boulevard.
Go Get ‘Em Tiger offers an extensive brunch menu aside from all the drinks and is actually located in Los Feliz, but close enough and cool enough to make this list. They do have another location in Larchmont, too. GGET is definitely a quirky spot to hang out and meet up for brunch. 4630 Hollywood Blvd.
Blacktop Coffee, a little espresso bar serving the liquid gold in real (albeit handleless) cups! Blacktop also has an entrance to an art/retail space called Alchemy Works, making it a nice little hipster fuelling pit stop. 826 E 3rd St.
Verve Coffee: this surfer-founded cafe originates from Santa Cruz, CA, and now has grown from 6 employees to over 150 employees with nine locations ranging from LA to Fan Francisco to Tokyo. 833 S Spring St.
Blue Bottle Coffee has become a coffee institute since its birth in the early 2000's in Oakland, CA. Blue Bottle wows to serve coffee roasted only less than 48 hours ago, giving the customers the opportunity to drink coffee when it has reached its' peak flavour. Besides having coffee shops in San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles and Japan, they offer a subscription service with direct fair trade fresh roasted coffees. 582 Mateo Street. (Echo Park shop: 1712 W Sunset Boulevard.)
Coffee Colab is more 'rough' than some of the other coffee places on this list: if all the airy, Scandinavian-designed spots were like folk music, Coffee Colab would be hiphop. Serving Suits&Knives coffee, making their espressos with a vintage La Marzocco, Coffee Colab is definitely a place worth a visit if you find yourself in the Arts District. 305 E 8th St #3.
Bonus: TOMS, the company making way too expensive shoes with the mentality of giving one pair to a child in need with every pair purchased, has broadened its' business from backpacks to sunglasses to now roasting coffee. You can visit their flagship store/cafe in Venice on Abbot Kinney road, where it seems to be more a coffee place than anything else; you're lucky to find a table without someone's Macbook on it.
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