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An Updated Guide to the Best Coffee Bars in LA

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2008_10_hasmaps.jpgSpecialty coffee keeps growing in Los Angeles, with consumers more knowledgeable than ever about quality, sourcing, and brewing variants. In the past, greasy spoons, diners, and old-school coffee shops would be common places to caffeinate in the morning. Then came along Starbucks and the rest of the latte-based coffee bars. Now, these modern cafes are the new meeting places and destinations, where baristas expertly pull well-roasted espresso and carefully craft cups of filtered coffee. This list is even more whittled down to the best of the best, showcasing each place's commitment to the highest quality beans and the best possible brewing methods.


7/12: Added: Brew, Caffe Luxxe, Primo Passo, Lamill, Two Guns, Espresso Profeta, Cafe de Leche, Balconi Coffee
12/12: Added: Cognoscenti Coffee Bar, Broome St. General Store, Bourbon Street Cafe, Fix Coffee, Tierra Mia, Jones Coffee Roasters, G&B at SQIRL, Cafecito Organico Malibu
7/13: Added: G&B Coffee, Go Get Em Tiger, Demitasse, Barista Society, Commissary at Siren Studios, Deus, Caffe Vita Dropped: Jones, Fix, G&B at SQIRL, Bourbon Street Cafe

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

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3922 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 663-6173
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Perhaps the harbinger of great coffee in Los Angeles, this landmark coffee bar in Silver Lake is the most iconic place to drink a cappuccino in the city. Celebrities sit around on the patio or back bar while the writers of industry wield laptops. The brews and espresso are extremely consistent, and always compelling.

2. Handsome Coffee Roasters

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582 Mateo St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 621-4194
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A production of three former Intelligentsia colleagues, Handsome Coffee Roasters is one of the first to feature a full roasting and packaging area behind the front coffee bar. The menu is as simple as it gets, with espresso and various amounts of steam milk, as well as one or two different batch-brewed coffees available each day. Pastries from Proof Bakery round out the offerings.

3. Go Get Em Tiger

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230 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
The newest entrant to Larchmont's prolific coffee scene, the guys behind G&B have made a shiny new gem of a coffee bar featuring various roasters and a swell bar-like setup (instead of lines), where customers belly up the counter and order directly with baristas. The coffee milkshakes are special.

4. Cognoscenti Coffee Bar

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6114
Culver City, CA 90232
A fully realized coffee bar from a former architect, now housed in the office of starchitect Clive Wilkinson, Cognoscenti puts together a rotation of high-quality roasters in a sparse, minimal, but inviting space in Culver City.

5. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

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1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-1233
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This high-design space features an industrial look that seams perfectly with an outside atrium that's ideal for people-watching along Venice's Abbot Kinney. Espresso and pourover programs are their normal offerings, while the back-bar tends to stretch the bounds of what coffee can be with the form of a special menu that depends on the barista's choice. The tea program is also exemplary, for those inclined toward less caffeine.

6. Cognoscenti Coffee (at Proof Bakery)

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3156 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
There's a reason why this coffee station at Proof Bakery has become a favorite hangout for lovers of espresso and brewed coffee - there's always a rotating list of top roasters available, as well as a constant supply of fresh beans in take-away bags. Roasters include Heart Coffee, Four Barrel, and local roaster Handsome Coffee. And of course everything can be paired with Proof Bakery's amazing baked goods and croissants.

7. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

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55 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 578-1270
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Intelligentsia's full service cafe, with simple, crafted meals alongside their incredibly polished coffee service, which includes espresso and pourover bar. There's also a number of beers and wines available with the small-producer, craft-brewery focus that appeals to foodies.

8. G&B Coffee

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324 S Hill St #C19
Los Angeles, CA 90013
After ending their pop-up at SQIRL, G&B has replanted inside the slowly changing Grand Central Market. Both espresso and filtered coffee are top notch, just like it was at SQIRL, using a multi-roaster system.

9. Single Origin

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6333 W 3rd St Stall 316
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 761-7976
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Located side by side with the late Amy Pressman's Short Cake, Single Origin serves Santa Cruz's Verve Coffee and pairs them with the spectacular pastries and desserts. Single origin pourover brews start front and center while custom espresso machines and grinders pull swell shots. Delightful ceramic cups and wooden trays allow you to take your drink to any seat in the Farmers Market and people watch.

10. Espresso Cielo

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3101 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 314-9999
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Featuring Vancouver's highly-regarded 49th Parallel roasters, this Main St. Santa Monica coffee bar puts together pretty latte art with a bright, street-side setting. The quality can be a little bit spotty depending on the barista at the moment, but the iced coffee can be terrific if it's brewed on the spot. A haven just steps from the beach.

11. Spring For Coffee

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548 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 228-0041
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What might be L.A.'s best attempt to resemble Manhattan, this tiny walk-up storefront features roasts from Stumptown, Blue Bottle and Ritual. The quality can waver from tiem to time, but it's great watching baristas work quickly to get your coffee made and you on your caffeinated way. Pourover brews via Chemex and Hario V60 are also available.

12. Bru Coffee Bar

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1866 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 664-7500
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A minimalist interior allows the Ritual Coffee program here to shine, with a near reflection of the San Francisco Mission District roaster's original location. There seems to be a good number of laptop users, and parking is ample in the back, making it a good mobile office destination. A pourover program with Hario V60s serve single origin beans while a La Marzocco pulls sweet shots for those more inclined to espresso.

13. Cafecito Organico

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710 N. Heliotrope
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 537-8367
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After making a name for themselves at local farmer's markets, Cafecito boasts their own organic, fair-trade beans while embodying the Eastside aesthetic better than anyone - a bit laid back, but still quite delicious. Both the Hoover and Heliotrope locations (just a mile or so apart) capture that "sit all-day in a coffee shop" vibe. The flavor of the roasts tends to be a bit more developed than the newer wave of roasters.

14. Demitasse

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135 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-9300
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This corner cafe along Little Tokyo uses a number of different roasters to the fullest, but now that they've started roasting on their own with Trystero Coffee, they've upped their game. You can get a cup from the fancy siphon coffee brewer or on La Marzocco espresso machines.

15. The Refinery

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413 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 986-2776
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This peaceful, airy spot in Santa Monica singles out the best in San Francisco's Ritual Coffee just steps from the touristy 3rd Street Promenade. It's also just a short walk from the Farmer's Market, giving you the proper fuel for some spectacular produce shopping. The refined, simple interior allows for a quiet work place.

16. Cafecito Organico

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29169 Heathercliff Road
Malibu, CA 90265
This new entrant to the sunny hillsides of Malibu works in tandem with a local bookshop. Probably the best place for a cup of high quality joe in this part of town.

17. Coffee Commissary

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801 N Fairfax Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 782-1465
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One of the first to adopt the multi-roaster model in L.A., Commissary occupies a sweet spot along Fairfax Avenue next to famed butcher Lindy & Grundy. The open space allows for plenty of seating while the Coava, Sightglass, and Victrola beans on rotation offer a varied experience every time you visit. Most of the regulars tend to be local TV and movie writers, if that's your crowd.

18. Demitasse

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1149 3rd St
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(213) 613-9300
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Cafe Demitasse has opened a new location on the bustling Third Street Promenade, where it features Kyoto-style slow drip iced coffee, espresso drinks, and coffee brewed via Steampunk, a crazy single-cup brewing system that's a sight to behold.

19. Broome Street General Store

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2912 Rowena Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 570-0405
This mom-and-pop general store is a welcome hangout for this part of Silver Lake, but the Gimme Coffee program is impressive for a store of this type. The outdoor tables are shaded enough to enjoy any time of year.

20. Primo Passo Coffee Co.

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702 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, Ca 90403
(310) 451-5900
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This newcomer to Santa Monica brews Stumptown Coffee in a simple, elegant space. The decor might be minimalist but the coffee is well-crafted. There have been some complaints about the slightly snobbier service but that's almost expected with coffee that's loads better than anything else on this block.

21. Two Guns Espresso

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350 N Sepulveda Blvd Ste 7
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 318-2537
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This Manhattan Beach coffee bar brews Seattle's Caffe Vita coffee beans in a simple but relaxing space just a short drive from the ocean. It's probaly the best place for a cup of joe in the South Bay, even though it's not necessarily walking distance from the ocean. The espresso drinks are high-quality and the cold brew is excellent. The flat white is terrific.

22. Paper Or Plastik Cafe

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5772 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-0268
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A sweeping view of Pico Blvd and an airy room that works well for laptop warriors and conversationalists alike, Paper or Plastik touts excellent beans from Intelligentsia. The pourover bar looks impressive but it sometimes takes a small eternity to get your drink.

23. Balconi Coffee Company

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11301 W. Olympic Blvd #124
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 906-0267
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Serving a rotating selection of roasters (though not specified), Balconi specializes in siphon filter coffee, an impressive technique that's a sight to behold. The espresso drinks are pretty good too, with cute designs etched into every cappuccino or latte. The decor's a little funky and oddball inside, giving it a local flair, but the baristas are good at what they do.

24. Caffe Luxxe

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925 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 394-2222
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Taking a modern Italian approach to coffee, Caffe Luxxe brews darker roasted coffee that holds well to large amounts of steamed milk, which is why the latte is the most popular beverage here. They are now roasting their coffee beans for their retail locations, which tends to focus on Westside locales Brentwood and Santa Monica.

25. Espresso Profeta

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1129 Glendon Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-3375
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This cute shop in Westwood only serves espresso drinks by committed baristas using Seattle's Vivace. The espressos tend to be a little more bitter and stronger than other places, with baristas packing in more than twenty grams per shot. Baristas are on point with great milk stretching. The cappuccino is the drink to get. Grab a cup and relax on the outdoor patio with the mismatched IKEA furniture.

26. Tiago Espresso Bar + Kitchen

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7080 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 466-5600
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Tucked away just off Hollywood Blvd, Tiago brews a rotating selection of Intelligentsia, Handsome Roasters, and San Jose's Barefoot Coffee. Probably the best place to get a great coffee in this part of the city.

27. Tierra Mia

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653 S Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 895-6000
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This Latin-inspired string of coffee houses maintains a high standard despite incorporating unique flavors such as horchata with their espressos.

28. Coffee Tomo

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11309 Mississippi Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 444-9390
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Probably the most requested shop for this list, Coffee Tomo might have one of the more enviable locations in L.A., in the hotbed of restaurants on Sawtelle and Mississippi. The pretzels are fresh and the coffees are passable, though the service can be shaky at times. It's more of a study hall, with expansive tables and laptop users everywhere. The drip coffee is the way to go.

29. Lamill Coffee Boutique

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1636 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 663-4441
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This high-design space in the heart of Silver Lake might have more flash than cup-to-cup quality but the best bets are the espresso based drinks that are best enjoyed sitting on the patio while people-watching.

30. Barista Society Coffee Boutique

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633 West 5th Street 2nd Level
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 444-3389
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Bunker Hill didn't have a lot of great options for quality coffee until this nook of a cafe opened on the mezzanine of the Library Tower. Caffeinate with well-roasted coffee from Portland and other locales, all made from the hands of expert baristas.

31. Deus Espresso Bar

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1001 Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
The too-cool guys at Deus made sure to give the community a place to hang out when they placed a Handsome Coffee-esque espresso bar at the high-end motorcycle and clothing boutique. A cappuccino sitting out on the patio is a terrific way to spend an afternoon in Venice.

32. Coffee Commissary at Siren Studios

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6063 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
This slick new outpost in Hollywood is a welcome relief for those looking to get fine coffee in the area. Using roasters such as Coava, Sightglass, and Victrola, Commissary has a little something for everyone, from espresso and drip coffee.

33. Caffe Vita Silverlake

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4451 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(206) 709-4440
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This outpost by Seattle import Caffe Vita is Silver Lake's hottest new coffee bar. The space doesn't look expansive, but it is, and makes for a great place to enjoy a cappuccino while working on a laptop or hanging out with friends.

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1. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

3922 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Perhaps the harbinger of great coffee in Los Angeles, this landmark coffee bar in Silver Lake is the most iconic place to drink a cappuccino in the city. Celebrities sit around on the patio or back bar while the writers of industry wield laptops. The brews and espresso are extremely consistent, and always compelling.
3922 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029

2. Handsome Coffee Roasters

582 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
A production of three former Intelligentsia colleagues, Handsome Coffee Roasters is one of the first to feature a full roasting and packaging area behind the front coffee bar. The menu is as simple as it gets, with espresso and various amounts of steam milk, as well as one or two different batch-brewed coffees available each day. Pastries from Proof Bakery round out the offerings.
582 Mateo St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

3. Go Get Em Tiger

230 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004
The newest entrant to Larchmont's prolific coffee scene, the guys behind G&B have made a shiny new gem of a coffee bar featuring various roasters and a swell bar-like setup (instead of lines), where customers belly up the counter and order directly with baristas. The coffee milkshakes are special.
230 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

4. Cognoscenti Coffee Bar

6114, Culver City, CA 90232
A fully realized coffee bar from a former architect, now housed in the office of starchitect Clive Wilkinson, Cognoscenti puts together a rotation of high-quality roasters in a sparse, minimal, but inviting space in Culver City.
6114
Culver City, CA 90232

5. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
This high-design space features an industrial look that seams perfectly with an outside atrium that's ideal for people-watching along Venice's Abbot Kinney. Espresso and pourover programs are their normal offerings, while the back-bar tends to stretch the bounds of what coffee can be with the form of a special menu that depends on the barista's choice. The tea program is also exemplary, for those inclined toward less caffeine.
1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

6. Cognoscenti Coffee (at Proof Bakery)

3156 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
There's a reason why this coffee station at Proof Bakery has become a favorite hangout for lovers of espresso and brewed coffee - there's always a rotating list of top roasters available, as well as a constant supply of fresh beans in take-away bags. Roasters include Heart Coffee, Four Barrel, and local roaster Handsome Coffee. And of course everything can be paired with Proof Bakery's amazing baked goods and croissants.
3156 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039

7. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

55 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
Intelligentsia's full service cafe, with simple, crafted meals alongside their incredibly polished coffee service, which includes espresso and pourover bar. There's also a number of beers and wines available with the small-producer, craft-brewery focus that appeals to foodies.
55 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105

8. G&B Coffee

324 S Hill St #C19, Los Angeles, CA 90013
After ending their pop-up at SQIRL, G&B has replanted inside the slowly changing Grand Central Market. Both espresso and filtered coffee are top notch, just like it was at SQIRL, using a multi-roaster system.
324 S Hill St #C19
Los Angeles, CA 90013

9. Single Origin

6333 W 3rd St Stall 316, Los Angeles, CA 90048