Coffee has become so much more than "liquid energy." It is an experience, whether that experience is a first date, or a kick starter before an 8am. Growing up in LA, I would consider myself what some may call a specialty coffee snob. I appreciate unique blends and exotic milks, and of course Instagram-worthy aesthetics, as much as I hate to admit it. Therefore I tend to lean towards boutique coffee shops over chains whenever possible. If you also enjoy specialty coffee, and the atmosphere that those shops embody, then keep reading. Here are LA's 9 Best Specialty Coffee Shops (in no particular order). 

1. Alfred

Alfred is the front-runner in LA's specialty coffee scene. It blew up around 5 years ago, and has been going strong ever since. Alfred's signature logo is their unique coffee cup sleeves. The sleeves started out with the "But First, ____" quote and have gone on to partner with many mainstream brands to create other fun and relevant sleeves. Alfred has quality coffee, and a multitude of pastries (the chocolate-chip cookie is a must). Beyond their products, their physical shop even has green vines growing on the walls outside (check out the photo below) and a variety of coffee-related quotes painted throughout their interior.

I mean does it get better than this? I don't think so. Bring your laptop, wallet, and get comfortable. Prepare to observe the hyper-trendy Melrose crowd, you may even experience a celeb sipping on Alfred's right next to you. 

2. Intelligentsia 

If you're an iced mocha fan, this is the place for you. Intelligentsia has mastered the craft of creating an impeccable mocha. It isn't cloyingly sweet, and not too bitter, but the perfect happy-medium. It is perfectly mixed, and will not include clumps of chocolate, but will instead be a smooth chocolatey/coffee beverage. My friends love their iced lattes, and they also have various croissants, cookies, and tarts. 

3. Blue Bottle

The little Blue Bottle graphic on these coffee cups has become iconic. Blue Bottle's crowd favorite is their New Orleans-Style Iced Coffee, which they describe as "stout and creamy with caramelized flavors of Chicory root." In simpler terms - it's coffee with milk and cane sugar. Blue Bottle has recently gone on to have their products packaged and sold at higher-end markets. With this option, Blue Bottle gives you the opportunity to enjoy coffee in the luxury of your own home... in your pajamas... with Netflix. 

4. Bodega Wine & Coffee Bar

Bodega - A hip coffee bar until 5 o'clock, when all laptops go away, and you're in a wine bar. Bodega essentially has the best of both worlds. It has a multitude of seating options, and as pictured above has a very Insta worthy windowsill for you and your latte to enjoy. If you're not in the mood to stay for the wine bar, Bodega is in walking distance of the 3rd Street Promenade as well as the Santa Monica Pier. 

5. Le Cafe De La Plage

Photographed above: where all of my money went this summer! This spot is in my hometown of Malibu, and therefore was my go-to every morning. De La Plage is relatively new, and has been extremely successful thus far. I tried my first oat milk latte (give it a try despite the name) and have been hooked ever since. Oat milk is literally the milk of oats, and has the same creamy consistency of cow milk, but is dairy-free! I have had my fair share of alternative milks and have never tasted one quite like this. Make your way to Malibu and grab a Le Cafe De La Plage coffee and indulge in a relaxing beach day. 

6. G&B

G&B is located in the heart of Downtown LA's Grand Central Market. G&B is set up bar style, and encourages customers to take any open spot rather than wait in line. They have a unique menu with quirky names, but it's the Business and Pleasure that stands out to me. One half a single espresso (the business). The other half a single shot almond macadamia cappuccino, slightly sweetened, shaken and served neat in a chilled glass with a little bit of espresso dusted on top (the pleasure). If you're feeling adventurous, snag a seat at the bar and give the Business and Pleasure a try.

7. Paramount Coffee Project 

PCP is an Australian coffee ship, featuring specialty coffee as well as various food items (including avocado toast, obviously). The crowd favorite coffee is the classic Australian flat whitea coffee drink consisting of of espresso with microfoam, similar to a caffe latte but greater proportion of coffee to milk. A flat white essentially makes the espresso the star of the show rather than the milk.  

8. Bondi Harvest

Here is another Australian inspired coffee shop for you. Aussies do coffee best right? At Bondi Harvest, surf comes before coffee, but we can just agree to disagree on that one for now (or I just need to learn how to surf). Bondi Harvest has an ultra-cool vibe to it, and truly embodies an authentic Australian cafe. The dishes on their menu are simple and healthy. They have an avocado toast, naturally, which includes lemon, pistachio, dukkah and raw wild flower honey. 

Be advised—this place brings in quite the crowd during weekend brunch hours, so plan your visit accordingly.

9. Malibu Farm

And last but certainly not least, we have Malibu Farm. This place is truly as aesthetically pleasing as it gets, and is located on Malibu's Pier. Malibu Farm is a farm-to-table cafe, with specialty coffee as well as an array of homemade juices. I grew up in this town, and this restaurant's views still manage to take my breath away. If you're wanting an artsy Insta with your latte, it's guaranteed when you visit this iconic restaurant. I strongly recommend the iced latte and Fried Egg Sandwich.

Grab a seat and enjoy the view, ocean breeze, and all. 

These 9 LA coffee shops are some of my personal favorites, and I hope that they soon become yours too. It is easy to get lost in all of LA's coffee shop options, but for a unique and unforgettable experience, pay a visit to one of them.