How these 7 coffee shops in Los Angeles are more diverse than you ever know
This International Coffee Day, let's #Throwback to 1963: the year that Herbert Hyman founded the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. His honeymoon in Sweden in 1966 sparked the idea to import, roast and sell gourmet coffee in Los Angeles, opening the first Coffee Bean store in 1968 in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. And, with that he spearheaded innovative experiences at cafes including selling whole beans and promoting their country of origin, allowing customers to observe the beans being roasted and sample varieties before making a purchase.
Hyman is renowned for being instrumental in the creation of the gourmet coffee industry in the US - and serving as an inspiration to the world! So, this International Coffee Day, it is only apt to go back to the place it all started: Los Angeles, where you will find coffee houses of every type. From classic old timers, as well as independent and third wave cafes boasting unique beans and brew methods, plus eclectic food menus that fit most every palate, there's no shortage of innovative, inspiring and Instagrammable coffee destinations in LA.
The Arts District in Downtown L.A. has become affectionately known as the “Coffee District,” home to
some of the top third wave coffee purveyors in the city.
Here's a look at 7 specialty coffee shops that offer diverse vibes and are sure to add fuel in your veins.
1. Coffee meets non-alcoholic mixology at Blackwood Coffee Bar, which opened in spring 2016 located on Sunset Boulevard near Runyon Canyon. Favorites at this casually chic, contemporary café include perfect post-hike refreshers: a sparkling espresso with espresso shrub, fresh orange zest, splash of maple, and sparkling water; Latin cold brew with cashew horchata; vanilla bean latte with espresso, house-made vanilla bean syrup and milk; and a seasonal special - kabocha latte with roasted kabocha puree, maple syrup, and spices. The espresso menu offers hot, iced, or decaf drinks, from an Americano to a flat white and everything in between. Choices for non-coffee drinkers include lavender rosemary lemonade and hot chocolate (dark ganache) with sea salt. Complementing the drinks is a breakfast, lunch and all-day menu with dishes such as matcha infused oats, avocado toast, breakfast bowl (eggs, bacon, avocado, pico de gallo), couscous chicken salad, and the Blackwood Bento Box with a choice of protein (tuna or chicken), choice of salad (couscous or mixed greens), and a beet hummus deviled egg.
2. BrewWell has landed in a postage stamp-sized space on Sunset Boulevard, with room only for the
baristas serving from a walk-up window with a couple of tables outside. Their brews, however, are
exceptional with Heart Roasters coffee beans. The menu is filled with creative blends, including a variety of iced and cold latte flavours (lavender, honey cinnamon, Nutella, and matcha). There’s also bottled cold-pressed juices, kombucha, Sparkling Lavonade (made with freshly squeezed lemons and lavender syrup), and a coffee float with cold brew and mascarpone gelato. Pair your drink with a pastry, bagel, or homemade pop-tarts.
3. You won't find typical coffee drinks at Philz Coffee - that means no espresso, cappuccino, latte, or pre-brews.This family-owned Bay Area import, created by Phil Jaber and now helmed by his son Jacob, has a growing number of locations offering single origin beans, as well as more than 25 customized blends incorporating two to seven different types of beans from around the world. Located on the ground floor of the CNN Building on Sunset, this is among the most spacious and orderly of coffeehouses, with communal tables filled with people and their laptops. There’s also a street-side patio with bright orange chairs. Each cup of coffee is made by hand, one cup at a time (which includes grinding the beans and adding cream and sugar if desired). Baristas are always friendly and available to answer questions. There are several specialty drinks, including the very popular Mint Mojito Iced Coffee and mocha Tesora. Non-coffee drinks include some unique tea blends, such as green tea with butter and herbs, Istanbul with dried fruit and licorice, and Philz iced tea with fresh mint. Pair a drink with a bagel, pastry, or special toast like hummus and tomato, labneh and zaatar, ricotta honey and pistachio, and almond butter and banana. Coffee, tea and other merchandise are available for purchase.
4. With its bold gold-plated exterior signage and modern glam interior with metal accents, glitzy chandeliers and Instagrammable walls, one might mistake Rubies+Diamonds for a jewelry store. On the contrary, the motto is #notajewelrystore. Situated between Sweetgreen and Sugarfish at Columbia Square, the shop was opened in January 2016 by Jean Shim, a coffee pro who co-owned the trendsetting LA Mill in Silver Lake with her husband. Here she’s pushing the envelope with an extensive, unique drink menu and coffee system unlike any other local shop. There’s CAF ratings for caffeine strength; BKON, a high tech brew system that makes a perfect cup; and signature coffee drinks that include caramel sea salt latte (and a vegan coconut version), cold smoked chili mocha latte, hot rose vanilla latte, and turmeric latte. There’s also a selection of hot and cold teas, plus nitro chilled teas (which can be ordered as a flight), lemonade, and matcha. And if you need a different kind of buzz, there’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.Sweet Lady Jane provides a selection of baked goods, including vegan choices. Jeans’s teen daughter, Elia, also bakes some excellent chocolate chip cookies. Light all-day fare includes sandwiches, chorizo burrito, and a few bowls, including tuna poke and soyrizo.
5. Discreetly located down a brick-lined alley off Industrial Street, Sarkis Vartanian’s Daily Dose is a popular coffee shop and cafe that serves a variety of coffee and tea beverages, as well as a seasonal food menu with whimsically-named dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. The 16-ounce Buena Vista is a popular order, featuring two shots of espresso, two teaspoons caramelized sugar and 14 ounces of milk. The Farmer is one of L.A.’s best sandwiches, described as a “vegetarian behemoth that weighs a full pound and packs a rainbow’s worth of ingredients between slices of toasted Kalamata olive bread from nearby Bread Lounge.”
6. Established in 1989, Urth Caffé touts itself as “America's first exclusively organic coffee company.” Urth Caffé exclusively carries its own brand of premium, fresh roasted whole bean organic coffee and hand selected fine teas sold under strict quality and ethical standards. The company opened its bustling Arts District location at the Barker Block lofts in 2008, well before the area’s current renaissance had begun in earnest. The most popular house blend is the Manhattan Mudd - dark roasted, strong and highly aromatic. Other offerings range from the lightly roasted Rainforest to the full-bodied Milano. 7. Stumptown Coffee Roasters opened its 7,000 square-foot facility in the Arts District in September 2013. Located just steps from Bestia and Bread Lounge, Stumptown features a retail bar, roastery, training lab and warehouse. The space is dominated by the roastery, which includes a 60-kilo Probat roaster. Espresso shots are pulled in the front bar from a custom La Marzocco Strada MP. Stumptown has been ahead of the game with the latest coffee trend, nitro cold-brew coffee, which is served on tap or available in cans. Coffee cuppings (tastings) take place at noon on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.