(Amateur) Coffee Connoisseur Adventures

Prior to the start of Spring Break, when I wasn’t ripping my hair out about final exams, I relished in the thought of being able to sleep in, stay home, and just do a whole lot of nothing. But because I live in a house with about twelve (!!!!!) other people, I quickly crossed “stay home” off of my Spring Break To-Do List. So what else is there to do? All of my friends were going out of town, I can’t go home because of work, and everyone else who doesn’t go to Cal Poly is in the midst of midterms. Then I realized it had been awhile since I last made the drive to one of my favorite coffee shops in LA, and so that became my new incentive to get through the rest of finals week. But visiting just one coffee shop turned into visiting many, and thus began my lust for discovering new coffee shops. I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite coffee shops, and did my best to accurately describe them.

1. Alfred’s Coffee & Kitchen, Beverly Grove

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“But First, Coffee.” is my new mantra

Prior to this past weekend, Alfred’s had been my favorite coffee shop in LA for the past couple of years, namely the shop located on Melrose. I first heard of Alfred’s from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, and so a combination of “Maybe if I go as often as possible, I’ll run into him there” with wanting to be as stereotypical of an LA resident as possible turned into a long trip down the 57 to the 10 to the 101 (anyone else remember The Californians sketch on Saturday Night Live?), and I instantly fell in love with the quaint little space.  The coffee itself is fantastic, but I’m more enamored with the atmosphere. Around one corner of the building, you are immersed in the cliché glitz and glam of Melrose Avenue (the Kardashians’ store is a stone’s throw from Alfred’s). But once you round the corner onto Melrose Place, you find yourself on a not-so-busy street lined with patches of brick covered in vines in between smaller shops. Alfred’s is located within a small pocket of these buildings, and inside you immediately find a more intimate setting. The main seating area feels like a hipster’s haven, combining different textiles and atmospheres into one cohesive ambience. The place is great for enjoying a cup of coffee (and maybe a pastry if you’re feeling especially extravagant) while reading a book, people watching, or if you’re like me, blogging.

My order: Iced Americano with soymilk and a blueberry scone

2. Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles

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The shadows in this photo are obnoxious, but the coffee is delicious. Also my blueberry muffin was served to me on a REAL plate because I’m royalty and deserve to be treated as such.

Located on Sunset Boulevard, Dinosaur Coffee combines great coffee with a lax atmosphere. One day, a friend and I somehow got to talking about our favorite coffee shops and it just so happened that both of our favorites were located in LA. He told me about Dinosaur Coffee, and how great the atmosphere and coffee were, and being that he’s somewhat of a real coffee connoisseur, I trusted his opinion and decided to add Dinosaur Coffee to my list of coffee shops I’d need to visit. What stood out to me the most was that instead of the typical front counter  with cash registers and a pastry display case, the layout almost emulates that of a 50’s diner, in that the coffee stations were located in the center of the room with a rounded counter lining its perimeter, and tables dispersed around the room. The atmosphere combines that of a diner and someone’s living room, and is ideal to log in hours of much needed relaxation time. Since the shop is in LA, you get the excitement of simply being immersed in a big city, while maintaining your own serenity from within an intimate space.

My order: Cold brew with almond milk and a blueberry muffin

3. Verve Coffee Roasters, Beverly Grove

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Jk that’s coffee.

I first heard of Verve when I saw a photo on Instagram of what looked like a stout. Like most Instagram photos, I scrolled past it, nothing about it really catching my attention. But then I came to find out that it wasn’t beer that was in the glass, but coffee cooled down with liquid nitrogen. Since I’m a fan of cooling things in unconventional ways, I added Verve to the growing list of coffee shops/cafes I needed to visit. If it weren’t for the menu (or the patrons inside drinking out of coffee cups), you’d think you walked into a brewery with its modern/rustic atmosphere. I ordered the cold brew that I had previously seen on Instagram, and was almost put off by what was set in front of me. When I took my first sip, I was expecting the bitterness of a stout, but what I got was the delightful taste of coffee. The liquid nitrogen made the coffee frothy , which made the drink even more enjoyable. If it weren’t for the LA traffic and the other list of things I had going on that day, I would’ve stayed longer and really absorbed the atmosphere. Also I saw Jesse McCartney there that day, and I’m still mad at myself for being too star struck to ask for a photo (WE WALKED PAST EACH OTHER AND BRUSHED SHOULDERS).

My order: Nitro Cold Brew

4. Coffee Klatch, San Dimas

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I have no caption for this photo except check out that guy in the back going in on that sandwich.

When I don’t feel like making the trek all the way into LA, want to stay local, and feeling too luxurious for Starbucks, I usually default to Klatch in San Dimas. Being that San Dimas is local to a handful of college campuses, you’ll normally find hoards of college students studying at every table, with the occasional old person – since a retirement community is located across the parking lot. Although the ambience of Klatch isn’t done up to the nines like many other coffee shops, the minimalistic quality of the space keeps a person from being too overwhelmed with so many things to look at, which makes it a perfect place for uninterrupted study sessions. Klatch doesn’t have a specialty like Verve does, but the coffee is still great quality and definitely satisfies any coffee craving.

My order: Iced Americano with soymilk

5. Augie’s Coffee House, Claremont

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I promise this photo isn’t the same as the one for Dinosaur Coffee.

Also somewhat local, Augie’s is located in a packing house in Claremont. Augie’s is also in the center of a pocket of eateries in Claremont, and is a perfect place to go for dessert or a post-dinner cup of coffee (is that a thing?). The space is very minimal and intimate, consisting of one long table in the center of the room for those looking for a place to sit and get work done, and counters that line either side of the room, for those looking for a place for quiet conversation. If you’re craving something sweeter than coffee, Augie’s shares the space with à la minute, an ice cream parlor that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze their product, done right as you order it.

 

My order: Cold Brew and a blueberry muffin

I’m still somewhat new to the wonderful world of coffee, which is why I’ve mainly described the atmosphere of each of the coffee shops. But other than the coffee, I feel like the ambience of each shop is what entices people to stay. I still have a long list of coffee shops I’d like to visit, and I still have a lot to learn about the world of coffee, but in the meantime, I enjoy just simply sitting in these shops and taking in the surroundings.

If my amateur descriptions of these places were enough to pique your interest to go visit any of them, please let me know – I would love to hear your thoughts. Also if anyone has any suggestions for me, I would love to hear them!

 

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