In the City of Angels, when the java jive has you in its spell, it’s good to know who’s making coffee with Italian cred.
Espresso hounds the world over are often dismayed by what most North Americans, raised on diner coffee and Starbucks, regard as a great cup of coffee. Seattle and San Francisco were the first US cities to get serious about the basics of quality coffee: premium beans, superior roasting techniques, state-of-the-art machines and expertly trained baristas. New York, more recently, has accumulated a handful of coffee shops on a par with the best of Italy and Australia. And now, finally, Los Angeles is stepping up. Intelligentsia cafe, in LA’s hip Silver Lake neighbourhood, is heaven for espresso aficionados living on the city’s East side. But if you’re staying or doing business on the West side – in Santa Monica or near LAX – you’d have to be a true fanatic to brave an hour and a half in traffic. Here is a guide to ensure you find the best coffee in the City of Angels.
4360 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City.
+1 818 508 6505.
925 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.
+1 310 394 2222.
9559 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills.
+1 310 274 9070.
3922 West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake.
+1 323 663 6173.
7605 Beverly Boulevard.
+1 323 954 0300.
Best of the rest
If you like your coffee strong, Kings Road Cafe won’t disappoint. It’s great for people-watching and the kind of high-quality eavesdropping opportunities that usually come with a much steeper price tag. (Think: “We can get Tom for this movie.”)
Lamill's Silver Lake cafe is designed to within an inch of its life by someone with a penchant for the Palace of Versailles and snakeskin. The coffee and food aren’t cheap, but they’re very good. And next door is Yolk, one of the best stores in LA to find wares and toys made by local artists.
Groundwork's store on West 2nd Street is one of the few good espresso options in this part of LA. Groundwork founder Richard Karno was one of the first LA cafe owners to roast his own coffee. His company also supports fair-trade principles.
Urth Caffe is an LA institution. With a focus on organic produce, Urth has four locations around the city (the latest opened in Downtown last September). The West Hollywood branch is the best for people-watching.
Originally from Berkeley in northern California, Peet’s Coffee & Tea has about 30 stores in Los Angeles County and nearby Orange County (the website provides an easy locator). By growing at a slower pace than some of its competitors, Peet’s has managed to maintain quality.
Joan’s On Third is a foodie’s paradise, its gourmet offerings reflecting the cafe’s origins – and ongoing business – as a catering company. In the middle of a row of boutique clothes shops on West 3rd Street, it’s the perfect pit stop for shopping, eating and Angeleno-watching.
Fred Segal Mauro Cafe. You might need more than a shot of espresso to recover from the kind of credit-card havoc this renowned LA fashion stop metes out daily. Fortunately, Fred Segal’s in-house cafe/restaurant also has an extensive wine list. The patio area is excellent for spotting stars, botox and obscenely rich teens.
Source: Qantas The Australian Way April 2009