Starbucks has always been there for me from my Vanilla-Steamer-days to my Venti-Redeye-nights. But there are other coffee shops out there that might not be getting the love that they deserve. We all need to mix things up now and then, so next time your caffeine headache kicks in, consider one of these coffee shops in LA that are alternative options.
Philz originated in San Francisco, but the location I visited is in Santa Monica. The atmosphere is fun and lively, and the barista made my drink personalized throughout the entire process. I heard a lot about the Mint Mojito drink, so I gave it a try and it seriously is fresh, minty, and sweet. The drink is just as refreshing as my friends assured me it would be. I liked the Mint Mojito, because it didn't taste like a generic drink that was rebranded. It's just doing its own thing. I ordered the monkey bread which is made for sharing. One of the baristas told me the monkey bread is one of their signature pastries.
Deus Ex Machina
Deus Ex Machina is half hipster café, half biker apparel shop with a subdued oasis vibe happening in the back. This is a great spot to come alone to study, or to work at one of its communal tables. I got a simple coffee with almond milk, which is mellow and easy to sip as I did some writing outside. My friends got a chai and soy latte, which were presented elegantly and reportedly satisfying.
I didn’t get any food here, but it has a selection of items from cookies to bagel sandwiches. There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan options as well, which is a huge plus for me since I don't eat meat. I was doubtful of this location, because the corner of Venice and Lincoln is a busy and frankly unpleasant spot to hang out. But I was surprised by the coziness of the café space.
The Venice location of Blue Bottle was recommended to me by a friend, but I ended up at the Culver City location, which opened within the past year. I went on a rainy day, but right when I walked in my mood was lifted from the vibrant, clean, and welcoming space. I told my barista that it was my first time at Blue Bottle and she suggested the New Orleans Iced Coffee. Despite the cold weather in LA that day, I ordered the iced drink. The New Orleans is a cold brew beverage brewed with chicory, and then cane sugar and milk are added. This is the strongest drink out of all five shops I visited, probably because of all that chicory.
I paired my coffee with a chia seed and cherry compote pudding, which was the lightly sweetened afternoon pick-me-up snack I needed. My favorite part about Blue Bottle is the space and its surroundings in the Hayden Tract area. It's located amongst a collection of boutiquey restaurants and shops, which all mirrored a similar serenity and simplicity that the café did.
Dogtown is a casual spot in Santa Monica, perfect for your morning coffee stop. Splurge and get the Munchies Burrito made with eggs, cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, tater tots, and chipotle sauce. You can add your choice of meat or make it vegetarian or even vegan. The Sea Salt Caramel Iced Coffee is the perfect level of sweet and salty for this beachside shop. I love cold brew on its own, but I liked that Dogtown incorporated their cold brew into a fun beverage like this one. Dogtown fits perfectly in the Santa Monica area. I love the comfortable and warm atmosphere in this space. It’s great for a quick coffee in between stores or to camp out and study.
Intelligentsia was made for impressing first dates. Located in the heart of Abbot Kinney, it has a hyper-sleek modern atmosphere. The baristas are absolutely coffee experts. I ordered a simple latte, because I trusted them to make a perfect one, which they did. The display case of food is enticing, but I didn’t buy any snacks because Intelligentsia is not cheap.
You don’t stop into Intelligentsia for a quick cup of coffee, you stop into Intelligentsia for a spiritual coffee experience. I always feel like I get my money's worth when I come to Intelligentsia, which is something I appreciate and can be rare, especially when dealing with the saturated coffee industry.
It's hard to break habits; a daily Starbucks trip is second nature to our generation, but there's a whole other world of caffeine out there, waiting to be discover.