Café Guide: Los Angeles

Café Guide: Los Angeles

The real star here is the coffee.
by Maciej Kasperowicz | October 08, 2019

Until recently, I hadn’t visited Los Angeles in four years. So when I had an upcoming trip in September, I was excited to go back and — between stops at various taquerias — drink a lot of delicious coffee. I ended up at quite a few bright, airy shops, ranging from fledgling local chainlets to well-known national players. Here are the many wonderful cafés I visited over my five-day stay! 

**727 North Broadway #127
Los Angeles, California 90012

After catching a shuttle from LAX to Union Station and stopping for a few tacos, my first LA coffee stop was Endorffeine, in the food mall that is Chinatown’s Far East Plaza. At lunchtime, it was super easy to find, as it’s across from the ridiculously long line at Nashville-style hot chicken sensation Howlin’ Ray’s.

As a counterpoint to that cayenne-scented madness, Endorffeine is an almost supernaturally calming white box of a cafe, which combined with the fact that they were blasting Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, made it seem like a weird, perfect LA dream. I got a shot of espresso roasted by Sweden’s Drop Coffee, served in the kind of tiny snifter glass you might see in a flight of Belgian beers. The coffee was Ethiopian, floral, and very tasty.

**Go Get Em Tiger
**135 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012

I met up with a friend for lunch and convinced her to walk a mile in the 90-degree heat in my jet-lagged stupor. At the end was Go Get Em Tiger, which had opened in LA’s Music Center complex the previous week. The last time I came to LA, there was only one GGET (not including G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market, which shares the same owners and more or less operates as a Go Get Em Tiger).

The Music Center shop is GGET number six, and it takes on the form of a box that’s wide-open on two sides, overlooking the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on one side and Grand Park on the other. The interior sports a marble coffee bar, which you can approach from three sides, and a wall of vinyl, happily playing Janet Jackson’s 1993 classic janet. I again got espresso, this time a Colombian roasted in house. It was slightly tart and very well balanced.

**757 South Alameda Street #160
Los Angeles, California 90021

I started Friday morning on a mission to get some bread — specifically the bread at Tartine, the award-winning San Francisco bakery that's set up shop in LA. I was excited about the coffee at Coffee Manufactory, Tartine’s sister business, as well, but as we’re lucky enough to taste their coffee here at Trade quite often, I think I could be forgiven for my prioritizing.

Manufactory has laid down roots in the gigantic Row DTLA complex, a series of warehouses next to a historic produce market that now house shops and offices. I stopped by the Row’s Go Get Em Tiger outpost and then it was off to Manufactory’s coffee window, where I enjoyed a really tasty cappuccino and wildly flaky croissant. I managed to get most of the croissant crumbs out of my beard before spending a few minutes chatting with my friend Michelle. Not yet full on carbs, I walked into Tartine Bianco and ordered a sampler of breads and pickles, which were sublime.

**Maru Coffee
**1019 South Santa Fe Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90021

A little under a mile east of the Row lies the second location of Maru Coffee, a large sunlit space housing up-front seating, a long bar, and a lot of pale wood tones. A glass-paneled room displays a black and white Giesen roaster, which roasts coffees like the elegant washed Ethiopia I had on drip. The signature coffee drinks and iced matcha coming out of the bar looked both beautiful and tasty, and if I weren’t on my third stop of the day I would have definitely followed up with one.

**120 East 8th Street
Los Angeles, California 90014

I generally enjoy Stumptown cafés, but as we have a bunch of those in NYC (as the friendly barista informed me when I told him I was in from out of town). Happily, while waiting for brain-reshaping flour tortilla tacos at Sonoratown, I noticed this downtown outpost and decided to stop in.

As with all the other recent Stumptown openings I’ve visited, the shop is beautiful, with a playful nature mural taking up the whole south wall. My espresso was also dependably delicious.

1463 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90026

Konbi is a coffee shop more in the diner than specialty café tradition, but they treat their coffee with as much respect as their delicious pastries and sandwiches. I was there more for the egg salad sandwich (as good and as beautiful as its lofty reputation), but the cup of Ethiopian drip from a well-regarded Washington roaster tasted pleasantly of cherry liqueur.

**Bar Avalon
**2112 Sunset Blvd, Suite K
Los Angeles, California 90026

Walking up Sunset, I stopped by Bar Avalon, the recent restaurant opening by the folks at Revelator. It was a little early for the brunch crowd, but I sat at the bar and ordered a shot of their Petunias blend, which was as chocolaty as I remembered it being from the Trade QC table. The space had brick walls, teal paint, leather booths, and high barn ceilings for some very pleasant all-day vibes.

**Dayglow Coffee
**3206 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90026

I continued further up Sunset to Dayglow Coffee. The glass facade gives Dayglow a sort of implied indoor-outdoor vibe and, in a city full of slowly-expanding roasting operations, the shop is multi-roaster AF — featuring roasters from such distant locales as Copenhagen and Coastal Massachusetts. The drip offering was a washed Ethiopian (again!) from Oslo’s Talormade, and it was memorably peachy. As a side note, If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, Dayglow to Avalon to Konbi would make a perfect Dodgers game day crawl.

**Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea
**3922 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90029

One of the iconic Los Angeles specialty coffee shops, Intelligentsia's Sliver Lake location is as famous for its coffee as it is for its beautiful floors; I have to imagine that it’s the location where the largest number of my friends have instagrammed their feet. It’s another indoor-outdoor LA space that is probably extra impressive to Midwesterners and Northeasterners (I identify as both). Also, this Intelli is within easy walking distance of local booze legend Tiki Ti, so a great move is to grab a shot of Black Cat around 4:00 and walk over for a Mai Tai when the bar opens.

**Verve Coffee Roasters
**500 Mateo Street, Unit 102
Los Angeles, California 90013

On my final full day in Los Angeles, and after kicking the day off with the 100 percent perfect tacos at the Mariscos Jalisco truck, I went back to the Arts District to check out Roastery del Sur, aka the new LA space from Santa Cruz favorite Verve Coffee Roasters. The barista pointed out the roastery and training spaces in the huge, bright room, which is in its own way just as visually striking as Verve’s other LA locations.

I thought it only right to order the pour over coffee on the menu, the Colombian El Progreso. It arrived on a wooden board in a beautiful ceramic carafe and tasted of berries and brown sugar.

G&B Coffee
Grand Central Market
317 South Broadway, C19
Los Angeles, California 90013

Though I had already been to three Go Get Em Tiger shops, the map told me that the walk between two The Museum of Contemporary Art campuses passed within a block of Grand Central Market. So it seemed silly not to stop by the aforementioned G&B.

While the coffee at Go Get Em and G&B is delicious, my real love there — if I’m being honest — is the Fizzy Hoppy Tea, a ridiculously refreshing combo of hops, red tea, and bubbles. I took my tea to go and drank it aboard the Angel’s Flight Railway.

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