10 Best Coffee Shops in Los Angeles
|A cappuccino at Espresso Cielo|
5. Espresso Cielo
Sitting quietly on the corner of busy Main Street in Santa Monica, Espresso Cielo is a quaint coffee shop inflected with the type of austere greys and cerulean blues that make the perfect backdrop for the Canadian beans it brews. Specifically, Espresso Cielo is one of a few shops in the city to offer beans from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, and the baristas are as consistent as they are sweet. The menu board is one of the more expansive that we've seen: for those looking for a piccolo latte -- sort of an Australian cortado -- this is where you'll find it. The shop also makes a fantastic cold brew. 3101 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 314 - 9999.
4. Balconi Coffee Company
T. Nguyen Siphon filters at Balconi Coffee
Everything at Balconi is engineered to ensure that you fully appreciate your cup of coffee. There is no wifi, for example, and the shop doesn't open until 10 a.m. because, as a barista explained, most people who take their coffee before 10 rarely have the time to appreciate their cup, so what's the point? If you do take the time to drink here, you'll see his point: each cup is brewed in a siphon filter and deserves the attention of all five of your senses. Indeed, you'll be asked if you would like to smell the beans before they're brewed, a question that is posed with so much genuine enthusiasm for what is about to happen that it negates any potential for pretension. After you acknowledge the aroma, the siphon fires, and then - magic. 11301 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 906-0267.
3. Coffee Commissary
T. Nguyen Coffee Commissary's macchiato
Sometimes the music here can be too loud, but if the theme song to The Greatest American Hero is blaring from the speakers, is that so bad? Regardless, Commissary, with a minimalist industrial look that stops just short of cold and sterile, has excellent coffee whether you opt for a pourover or an espresso pulled from the lovely Strada machine. Beans are from Portland's fantastic Coava Coffee Roasters, as well as from Sightglass Coffee Roasters and Victrola Coffee Roasters. As if the coffee weren't enough, the shop recently revamped its pastry program so you can have your cake and eat it too. If the music does ultimately prove to be too loud, enjoy your coffee outside on what might be the best coffee shop patio in the city. 801 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 782-1465.
2. Cognoscenti Coffee
T. Nguyen Cognoscenti Coffee's cortado
The great American dream, besides being retweeted by your favorite celebrity, is to avoid putting your fate in the hands of the fools on Wall Street and become your own boss. And Yeekai Lim has done what Willy Loman could not: the one-man band at Cognoscenti Coffee, he turned his passion for coffee into a career, starting out with just a makeshift cart and popping up wherever coffee called. Now at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village with the occasional pop-up around town, he still plays to his own tune. He reliably offers beans from Four Barrel, but if he finds another coffee he likes, he'll haul it in and share. His most recent import is Heart Coffee Roasters from Portland, and he also was one of the first to offer tastes of Handsome Coffee Roasters. On his days off, his handpicked substitutes easily rival some of the best baristas at Intelligentsia. In fact, a few former Intelligentsia baristas sometimes are the substitutes, turning this whole outfit into a coffee version of the Traveling Wilburys. And, well, it's all right. 3156 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 664-8633.