How to Find the Coffeehouse That’s Right for You
by Richard Guzm�n
As in many neighborhoods, coffeehouses Downtown are social gathering hubs where the ambiance is often as important as the brew.
But with dozens of coffeehouses that cater to various tastes and personalities, where you go for your cup of Joe can say a lot about who you are. In Downtown Los Angeles, in fact, there’s a place for everyone, whether you’re an artistic type who likes to discover hidden gems, a serious coffee aficionado who can’t talk enough about Brazilian beans, or a stressed-out office dweller who just needs an excuse to leave the cubicle.
Behold, a few Downtown destinations, along with descriptions of some of the people who frequent them.
If you want to learn more about coffee, or if you like to talk about it as if you were working on a dissertation about the bean, then grab a cup and pull up a chair next to Weiche. He’ll tell you all about the “third wave” of coffee, which is a response to the corporate chain coffeehouses, he said. “It’s about bringing back the artisan nature of coffee production and growth and roasting, the whole process,” he said.
The first wave, Weiche explained, was the era of brands like Folgers, where you could quickly whip up a few cups at home. The second came with the birth of places like Starbucks, which brought more exotic blends to the masses. The third wave is all about getting back to the art of coffee.
Weiche prepares his creations with the help of the Clover, a machine that brews one cup of coffee at a time. This method allows him to offer a greater variety of coffee from areas such as Central America and Africa. You’ll leave Caf� Corsa with a head full of knowledge about coffee and a sense that you became a little smarter, at least about coffee, during your break.
At 2238 S. Figueroa St., (213) 746-2604.
The clientele here is young, funky, tattooed and loves its organic coffee. Soul Drip, the Red Pill and the Soul Latte are some of the hot coffee choices you’ll find here. Coffee-blended drinks have monikers such as Soul Cooler, Chocolate Monkey and Cookie Monster. “I came in this place about a year ago, and as soon as I came in the door I loved this place,” said Blackbird, a Lost Souls manager, and yes, he goes by only one name. That’s the kind of vibe common at Lost Souls.
“It reminds me of old cafes,” Blackbird said. “Here we host events, we put people’s art up, we have spoken word. That’s culture, that’s community.”
As for the coffee, well, “I am a coffee drinker. I get up in the morning and I drink a cup, and then I’ll drink coffee all day,” he continued. “Here, you can’t beat it.”
At Harlem Place Alley,_124 W. Fourth St., (213) 617-7006 or lostsouls.com.
The company has two locations Downtown, on Second Street at the base of the Higgins Building (where there is also a Clover machine) and on Traction Avenue in the Arts District.
“I started with the idea that L.A. needed its own homegrown coffee shops. I feel that the people who come here are looking for some authenticity,” said owner Richard Karno.
With his focus on organic coffee and the preparation process, which includes an in-house roaster, Groundwork could easily qualify as a third-wave coffee shop, although Karno wants nothing to do with that term.
“I’m not in favor of this whole third-wave concept at all because I believe it makes coffee something that is very esoteric, and something that is very high-end and it’s almost like you have to belong to a medieval guild to know the secret signs and secret names to order coffee. I think it’s a little bit elitist,” he said.
At 811 Traction Ave., (213) 626-8650, and 108 W. Second St., (213) 620-9668 or groundworkcoffee.com.
But with nearly two dozen Starbucks and a handful of Coffee Beans in the area, more than a few Downtowners are going to these places. The lines, by the way, can be out the door, especially at the Central Avenue Starbucks in the morning.
So whom can you expect to find at Starbucks or Coffee Bean?
Well, just about anyone who has some time to spare.
“I’m not a huge, huge coffee aficionado, but I like the coffee here and the places are always nice. You can sit down and relax during your lunch break,” said Allison Lee, who works at a local law firm.
Jason Graves, an architect and Downtown resident, said he’s never been one to care about what other people think and he prefers the convenience of corporate coffee shops. “Some people can try to get all trendy and think they’re cool by going to these secret little spots, but I have no problem with Starbucks or Coffee Bean. The coffee is good, they’re all over the place, and Starbucks did start it all,” he said.
At a corner near you, or visit starbucks.com or coffeebean.com for locations.
Contact Richard Guzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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