— FINANCIAL DISTRICT —
TWO GUNS ESPRESSO
If you work anywhere around Wilshire and Figueroa, there's probably a Starbucks or a Coffee Bean in the lobby of your building, or in the lobby of the building next door or across the street. Thus it's an enormous relief that Manhattan Beach-based specialty coffee shop Two Guns Espresso has expanded its presence to this part of the Downtown neighborhood. Specifically, you'll find it brewing and pulling in a small kiosk in the plaza of the Figueroa at Wilshire building. Expect to see flat whites on the menu, which you should try at least once. After all, would you rather have a flat white here or from Starbucks? Exactly.
In the kiosk at the Figueroa at Wilshire building plaza at Figueroa and Wilshire | Coffee: Two Guns (roasted by Caffe Luxxe)
To eat: Pastries from Breadbar
In the courtyard of City National Plaza is Nice Coffee, a nice bar with nice people serving Nice Coffee. For anyone who works nearby who uses every 10 minute break permitted by law, this is a nice place to get away for a quick respite. If you are line averse, note that their morning rush goes from about 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.-ish — at least, it was during the summer of '18, when I had an office job in a building around the corner. Bonus: the Central Library is right across the street.
555 South Flower Street | Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
To eat: Heirloom LA's pastries and granola and toasts and the sort
— HISTORIC CORE —
G&B Coffee is what greets you if you enter Grand Central Market from the Hill Street side, a lovely coffee stand that Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski opened soon after their brief pop-up at Sqirl. After opening G&B Coffee, they opened Go Get Em Tiger, and G&B Coffee is terrific for all the same reasons that Go Get Em Tiger is terrific — there’s that long, standing counter; the consistently excellent tea and coffee, including a fantastic espresso milkshake — but there’s something about this specific stand that’s so completely unlike Go Get Em Tiger that it deserves a spot on its own. Without the four walls, in the open air of Grand Central Market, the energy here seems to be more kinetic, more vibrant. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that you can grab a cup of coffee here, then a pupusa from Sarita’s and finish with mango sticky rice from Sticky Rice, all within the span of the same bustling lunch hour. Standing here, it feels comfortable and familiar. It feels like Los Angeles.
324 S. Hill St., #C19 | Coffee: go get em tiger
To eat: Really great granola, pastries
To eat nearby: The world of Grand Central Market will keep you well fed — try Sticky Rice and/or Sarita’s Pupuserias.
DON FRANCISCO'S COFFEE CASA CUBANA
Take a short walk into the Spring Arcade Building and you can't miss this very pretty shop. You probably are already familiar with Don Francisco and with the Gaviña family behind it — the family, after all, is one of L.A.'s oldest roasters — so there's something a little familiar, too, about their very first cafe. You won't be wrong to go for a Cuban coffee drink, and a papa rellana or two, too.
541 S. Spring Street (in the Spring Arcade Building) | Coffee: Don Francisco's Coffee
To eat: Cubanos, media noche, sweet and savory pastries, did I mention the potato balls
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE
Blue Bottle's Downtown proper location is at the Bradbury Building, a very awesome building that you'll probably recognize instantly if you've ever seen Blade Runner. Blue Bottle's shop is as minimal and clean as its other shops; this location has a Cold Bar, where cold brews and coffees are shaken and stirred and iced and so on, as well as a wall of library books that you can read or buy (proceeds go to the Los Angeles Public Library). Unless I missed it, I didn't see a shelf full of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- which seems wrong somehow -- but there were quite a few copies of The Hunger Games and books on Japanese origami.
300 S. Broadway | Coffee: Blue Bottle Coffee
To eat: Toasts and pastries
To eat nearby: Grand Central Market, Little Tokyo
VERVE COFFEE ROASTERS
Verve's Downtown shop is a collaboration with Juice Served Here, meaning you can have both a fine cappuccino and a flight of 10 fresh cold-pressed juices: in other words, breakfast. It's a pretty space, with recycled denim on the seats, a vertical garden on the walls flanking the patio and lots of room to work or commingle. This is the first of several Verve shops in L.A.: there are shops in West Hollywood and Highland Park that are slated to open later this year, plus a roastery that you'll soon find in the Arts District.
833 S. Spring Street | Coffee: Verve Coffee Roasters
To eat: Pastries, baked goods, sandwiches, etc. from Short Cake's Ivan Marquez; snacks from Cafe Gratitude
The first L.A. proper outpost of the local South Bay chain. All coffee is roasted in-house, and the shop consistently pulls solid espressos. Plus, there are fun drinks like the horchata latte.
653 South Spring Street | Coffee: Tierra Mia
To eat: House pastries
Nearby Eats: Guisados, Baco Mercat
— SOUTH PARK —
The third location of Cognoscenti Coffee is here at the base of the LEVEL Furnished Building, conveniently next to a SoulCycle. It's Yeekai Lim's biggest yet — he also can be found in Culver City and at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village — with a big communal table in the middle and bar seating along the windows, plus a little more lounge-ish area and shelves full of fun goods from Your Local Hive. Lim and his crew got into roasting not too long ago, so that's what you'll find here; that said, Lim says he's still planning to be a multi-roaster shop, so there will be coffee from other folks on deck as well. All in all, a solid spot for coffee in a part of Downtown that not (yet) has too many specialty coffee stops.
868 S. Olive St. | Coffee: Rotating; recently, Cognoscenti Coffee, Heart Coffee Roasters
To eat: Pastries and sandwiches
I was at a Trader Joe's the other day and "How Bizarre" starting playing. Pretty much immediately, everyone — staff and customers — offered their opinion on whether this was the worst '90s song, or merely one of the worst '90s songs ("even Macarena was better," someone said). Anyway. Nineties nostalgia is not just at Trader Joe's; it is, also has been on full blast at a good number of coffee shops I've been to lately ... that is, except for Loit Cafe. Because while other shops apparently have a '90s Hip Hop/R&B/songs that showed up on Vh1's Pop-Up Video mixed with a bit of whomever's headlining FYF Fest this year, Loit Cafe is often bumping the classical and the jazz. It's a nice respite, not unlike the rest of the shop, a big place on the corner of Olympic and Hill. Coffee's good, there's a military latte on the menu if you're into it, four or so pourover options, you can settle down at any one of the many tables, and there's a good chance Hansen's not going to pop up on the sound system. Enjoy.
301 W. Olympic Ave. | Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
Special drinks: Military latte
To eat: Pastries and sandwiches from Bread Lounge
— LITTLE TOKYO —
The primary focus here is on the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese-inspired pastries, but don’t let that draw your attention away from the coffee program. It’s a solid menu of classics, plus other coffee drinks you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere in LA. The Vietnamese coffee, for example, is easily the best you’ll find without having to trek out to the San Gabriel Valley.
134 Japanese Village Plaza Building E | Coffee: Rotating, but often includes Madcap Coffee Roasters and Stumptown Coffee Roasters
To eat: Lots of pastries like Fruit Loops-topped donut holes. You get the idea.
Nearby eats: Little Tokyo! Daikokuya, Marugame Monzo, Sushi Gen, Men-Oh Ramen
An all-around solid shop. Clever drippers and siphon brewers line the counter for pourovers, and cold-brew comes courtesy the Kyoto dripper in the front. Beyond coffee, try the hot chocolate, made with homemade marshmallows. Speaking of chocolates, you’ll find a selection of truffles from local chocolatier Compartes.
135 S. San Pedro Street | Coffee: Demitasse Roasting
Nearby eats: Daikokuya, Marugame Monzo, Sushi Gen, Men-Oh Ramen …
— ARTS/INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT/FASHION DISTRICT —
STUMPTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS
Portland’s famed Stumptown Coffee Roasters finally arrived in Los Angeles this year, and if you’re a fan of Stumptown’s coffee — especially its Hair Bender espresso — you likely already probably figured out that this is the best place in town to get it. Just a stone’s throw from Bestia and Bread Lounge in the Arts District, Stumptown’s 7,000-square-foot warehouse space houses a cafe, a Probat roaster as big as a beast in full view of the cafe, a training facility and wholesale operations. If you’ve visited the other Stumptown shops in Portland and New York City, you’ll recognize a few things: The handwriting on the wall, for one, the abundance of pale wood for another. The pastries, including a kimchi and spam croissant, come courtesy local baker Sugarbloom Bakery.
806 S. Sante Fe | Coffee: Stumptown Coffee Roasters
To eat: Pastries from Sugarbloom
Nearby eats: Bread Lounge, Pizzanista!
Fans of Little Tokyo’s Cafe Dulce will know that the shop popped up a coffee counter into the lobby of a building in the same lot that houses the American Apparel Factory last year; as of this past November, that little counter is now a bona fide space, with four corners and all sorts of fun brewing devices.
777 Alameda Street (enter on Bay) | Coffee: Heart Coffee Roasters
To eat: Sandwiches and treats are brought in from the mothership daily.
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE
Just a few short, bittersweet months after Oakland's Blue Bottle Coffee bought L.A.'s Handsome Coffee Roasters, Handsome's roasters and cafe in the Arts District officially flipped over to Blue Bottle's first L.A. shop. Aesthetically, not much has changed -- those industrial touches still feel like Handsome -- but it's all Blue Bottle otherwise, from the sign on the shop to the menu with its signature New Orleans-style cold-brew to the pastries in the case. Handsome, we hardly knew ye.
582 Mateo Street | Coffee: Blue Bottle Coffee
To eat: Blue Bottle's pastries and cookies
Nearby eats: Pizzanista!, Little Tokyo
Yup, Yeekai Lim has another Downtown shop, this one in the Fashion District at City Market South. This is the biggest of Lim's shops, with a long L-shaped counter, big tables and plenty of light coming in from huge windows. There's also a roaster tucked in the back behind the counter.
1118 San Julian St. | Coffee: Cognoscenti Coffee, Heart Coffee Roasters, Take Flight
To eat: Pastries from Proof Bakery
— CHINATOWN —
Coffee Hall is a little coffee pop-up in Mandarin Plaza where other coffee folks sometimes pop up and pull espresso. The Strada is set up on a nicely rigged cart, there are wares for sale nearby on the table, two large tables for drinking and talking and working, a record player with Billie Holiday on deck. The set up may change from time to time, of course, as the coffee spots on bar change; that said, depending on who pops up there, this has the potential to be one of the most interesting coffee spots in town.
970 N. Broadway | Coffee: Rotating
To eat: Doughnuts
To eat nearby: If you need a cake or almond cookies, Phoenix Bakery across the street is tops; Burgerlords
Located conveniently right next to LAX-C, you can pick up all sorts of Thai groceries and then stop in here for a cup of coffee. There's a good amount of seating here, parking is free, and it's a wi-fi friendly place, so it's not uncommon to see students and writers alike setting up shop here. There is a full kitchen here, so you can have yourself a Larb Burger, say, and have a working lunch here if need be. Just don't forget to stretch your legs every once in a while, yeah?
1100 N. Main Street Suite B | Coffee: Chimney Coffee
To eat: Pastries, sandwiches, burgers, avocado toast, etc.
To eat nearby: Mae-Ting’s Coconut Cakes and the hot food section of LAX-C Supermarket; Chego!
In addition to being an excellent name for a coffee shop on the Ewoks' home planet, Endorffeine is Jack Benchakul's new shop in Far East Plaza. This would be the same Benchakul who previously manned Cognoscenti Coffee's cart inside Scoops, which has popped down now that Benchakul has his own place, complete with a Modbar on the u-shaped counter, up and brewing.
727 N. Broadway | Coffee: Heart Coffee Roasters
Nearby eats: Chego!, Howlin' Rays if the line there isn't too long