SANTA MONICA, VENICE, MANHATTAN BEACH
— SANTA MONICA —
Maybe it’s because cerulean blue dominates the color scheme, but Espresso Cielo is an especially serene shop on Santa Monica’s Main Street. In addition to your typical macchiatos, cappuccinos, etcera, you’ll find pretty much every combination of milk and coffee here; double check to see if the drink you want is in the size you want (the “Gibraltar” might not be what you think it is — try the Piccolo Latte instead).
3101 Main Street | Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
Originally opened in Little Tokyo, Bobby Roshan’s Demitasse’s second location is right off the Promenade in Santa Monica. Here, as there, the shop serves its house beans. For coffee gadget nerds, note that this shop is the first in L.A. to install that nifty Alpha Dominche Steampunk Brewing System machine.
1149 Third Street | Coffee: Demitasse Roasting
Nearby eats: Huckleberry; Bay Cities Italian Deli
One of L.A.’s first specialty coffee shops, Caffe Luxxe’s shops are as beautiful as you might expect them to be. The shop roasts its own beans; fans of Northern Italian-style roasts would be very much at home here.
925 Montana Avenue & 225 26th Street (at the Brentwood Country Mart) | Coffee: Caffe Luxxe
To eat (Montana Avenue): Rustic Canyon; Bay Cities Italian Deli
To eat (Brentwood Country Mart): Sweet Rose Creamery; Tacos Punta Cabras
— VENICE —
MENOTTI'S COFFEE STOP
Coffee and the beach pretty much sums up Menotti’s, a lovely, small coffee stop right off the Venice boardwalk, feet from the sand. Here you’ll find Four Barrel, and you might recognize Christopher “nicely” Alameda, the head barista here who pretty much debunks every stereotype of the snobby barista. Try the cortado, made here with just a touch of sweetener.
56 Windward Avenue | Coffee: Four Barrel
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE
Blue Bottle's first bona fide Los Angeles shop (well, sort of, anyway) is, as James Freeman put it, a "sensible, spare, efficient little shop." At 650 square feet, it's a straightforward spot where you can stop in for your New Orleans-style cold-brew before or after a day at the beach or wandering Abbot Kinney. What frills there are mostly fly under the radar: the James Turrell-esque LED panel that provides the backdrop to the bar; the nifty Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine located on the counter that's just off to the side. Welcome to the neighborhood.
1103 Abbot Kinney Boulevard | Coffee: Blue Bottle
To eat: Blue Bottle's pastries and cookies
Other nearby eats: Gjelina, Tasting Kitchen
From the folks who brought you Gjelina and Gjelina Take Away comes a bakery -- a very, very good bakery with some of the best breads in town. The place is huge, and the options are enormous, so you may as well get a cappuccino while you're trying to decide what you want. Charles Babinski and Kyle Glanville (G&B Coffee, go get em tiger) consulted on the coffee program, and the results are as great as you might expect.
320 Sunset | Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
To eat: A ton of options, but if you can't decide, try starting with the baklava croissant and going from there.
SUPERBA FOOD & BREAD
Handsome Coffee Roasters (RIP) co-founder Tyler Wells helped start up the coffee side of this sprawling neighborhood breakfast, lunch and dinner spot located inside a former auto body shop. Thus you can trust that your Gibraltar will be properly made; the pastries -- all made in house, as you may have already gathered from the name -- aren't bad, either. Note: order at the front, where the pastries are, then wander back to the coffee station, where the espresso machine is, if you want to watch your drink being made.
1900 S. Lincoln Boulevard | Coffee: Heart Coffee Roasters
To eat: Sandwiches, salads, avocado toast
Intelligentsia’s Venice shop might be its most ambitious outpost in Los Angeles, where baristas take your order at individual stations and, every once in a while, host a slow bar in the back. With the exposed ceilings and pipes, there's a distinct steampunk vibe.
1331 Abbot Kinney Boulevard | Coffee: Intelligentsia Coffee
Nearby Eats: Gjelina, Tasting Kitchen
— MANHATTAN BEACH —
TWO GUNS ESPRESSO
Some of the best coffee in the South Bay — and certainly in Manhattan Beach — is being poured at Two Guns, a small ice cream shop-turned-coffee house. The shop was opened by two Kiwis in late 2011; thus you won’t be surprised to learn that the primary object of desire here is the flat white, and it’s a good one at that. In addition to these flat whites, you’ll also see long blacks.
350 N. Sepulveda Boulevard | Coffee: Caffe Vita
Nearby Eats: M.B. Post; Fishing with Dynamite
— REDONDO BEACH —
THE BOY AND THE BEAR
Maybe one of the more interesting roasters to open around in L.A. in the last few years. Andres Pineros opened The Boy and the Bear (formerly known as The Fika Company) in his hometown of Villavicencio, in Colombia, in 2012 before moving up to the South Bay in 2014; he opened this Redondo Beach outpost in 2016. He buys coffee exclusively from three Colombian farmers — his friends, actually, which makes things convenient — and roasts the beans right there in the shop, on a teal Diedrich roaster. One of his farmer partners has already come up to the shop to visit, and Pineros plans to bring the others up, too. As for the coffee itself, well, it's pretty terrific. Note to the geeks: Pineros will have some particularly interesting coffees from time to time as his farmer partners experiment with growing and processing methods.
350 N. Pacific Coast Highway | Coffee: The Boy and the Bear
To eat: Pastries, vegan and not-vegan