“Which Intelligentsia’s have you been to?,” John recently asked, to which I replied: Abbot Kinney in hipster Venice Beach and the fine little nook on 53 East Randolph Street in Chicago. The Moko Café barista smiled when he heard me speak of the first location. Reason being, “It’s supposed to be one of the best coffee bars in the world,” he complimented, an acclaim I second. Let me share why…
When mentioning my love for SoCal coffee spots, I’m obligated to call attention to Venice’s Intelligentsia. I was introduced to this sanctuary in February on an especially coffee-calling kind of day—it was gray, cloudy and chilly.
I stood looking like a Hawaiian rainbow in my favorite Anthropologie dress as I waited in a Black-Friday-long line, not to place an order, but to first step inside the famed coffee bar. What was it about this brew that could possibly make it worth the wait?
I glanced at the surrounding addicts, who were dressed in dirty-white t-shirts and distressed skinny black jeans that complemented seriously disheveled hair. And that’s when I found my answer. They were seeking the antidote to all the burnt-tasting-too-hot-to-drink commercial blends.
I inched closer and closer down an ivy-covered hall to the entrance, anxious to order so I could judge the prized caliber. “Should I get a mocha? A caramel macchiato?,” I contemplated. No, no. I ordered old-school style: a tall coffee. After all, if you’re going to judge flavor, do it the right way, drink it black.
More waiting, which allowed me time to absorb the ambience. Picture a perfect coffee bar experience: an aesthetically-pleasing room, beautifully bold aroma, mod spins and a maximum casual vibe. Now multiply tenfold (I know, can you even imagine?). That’s the experience you’ll get inside Venice’s ridiculous cool coffee club, a depiction equally descriptive of the Abbot Kinney area (also home to my favorite paper boutique, Urbanic). Inside the coffee bar rests four custom-fabricated espresso machines, all of which are manned by an orchestration of talented baristas dedicated to personalizing each coffee client’s experience.
Moment of truth.
Placed in front of me was the virgin order, presented in a white porcelain cup. My initial sip brought forth an epiphany—I then understood why the particular coffee I was tasting is dubbed Intelligentsia’s flagship creation. The flavor was deliciously balanced: medium-bold, subtle notes of chocolate, hints of citrus. Wait a second. Let me be more specific. Hints of baked apple. There was no graceful flow to the way I sipped…and sipped…and sipped, as if I was hurriedly rehydrating from a 12-mile run.
That’s what you can expect from Intelligentsia’s House Blend—well-flavored quality coffee that leaves you feeling sublime.