Category Archives: Santa Monica

Happy Anniversary, Caffe Luxxe

Caffe Luxxe, Santa Monica

Today marks the fifth year anniversary of my beloved California coffee spot, Caffe Luxxe. To celebrate, all three caffes will be toasting with free espresso, coffee and tea drinks between 12-2 p.m. I only wish I would have stayed in California just a little bit longer so I could partake in the offer. But, at least I was able to pay a much-anticipated afternoon visit last week to the Santa Monica location (925 Montana Ave.), where I was once again reminded why this space is, hands down, the most elegant coffee shop I’ve ever been to.

The stunning contemporary decor is ever-so-inviting that you’ll easily spend a couple hours chilling out while drinking cup after cup of handcrafted perfection. Inside you’ll find a wall aligned with sophistication, from Compagnie de Provence hand lotions, stylish greeting cards, fine olive oils and, of course, coffee.

But it’s not just the said lovelies and beautifully framed photography that captivate me. Caffe Luxxe happens to serve the most unbelievable French macarons, exquisite creations from pastry chef Paulette Koumetz of ‘lette in Beverly Hills. And actually Caffe Luxxe is the only spot outside of ‘lette’s store that sells these rainbow delicacies, which are hand-made daily (hint, easy way to my heart).

I recommend the madagascar vanilla with a caffé latte, a complementing pairing that doesn’t disappoint (obviously).

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A Luxxe Package

Caffee Luxxe + French Press = A Match Made in Heaven

Last year, the travel bug bit me pretty hard and left me with enough frequent flyer miles worthy of three plane tickets. If it weren’t for endless excursions to Los Angeles, I never would’ve discovered the beautiful and elegant Caffee Luxxe.

Santa Monica’s heavenly café awakened me to a whole new coffee experience, which I detailed in a previous post. I only wish I could savor CL’s exquisite coffee and atmosphere on a regular basis. For now, I’m fortunate to have a vicarious taste, thanks to a weekend delivery, which resulted in a ceremonious Sunday.

This morning, my coffee cup married my French Press. The beautiful union was solemnized by a divine coffee clergy made up of mild, full-bodied Costa Rica-Helsar beans, delivered from 2,300 miles away.

The coffee coupling was made possible thanks to Caffe Luxxe. Traveling with said heavenly brew were wonderful accompaniments: Testa Rossa, Amaretti cookies, biscotti and crème pour les mains, all gifted from Caffe Luxxe co-founder and creative director, Mr. Gary Chau.

The lux package also supplied bountiful Caffee Luxxe bags, my sturdy supplement to the traditional lunch tote. As if said delights weren’t enough, there was an added touch—a handwritten note that included proper use of commas.

A reception will be held post-Bill Cunningham New York. All are welcome to sip, savor and toast Costa Rica’s citrus and cedar flavor—a sweet way to finish off a Sunday.


A Beautiful Cup of Coffee Is Anything But Boring

My lunch bag as of late, filled with...fruits and vegetables

No sugar, no carbs, no dairy…No caffeine. Welcome to Camp No-Fun, filled with boring boundaries. Yet, this is my life for the next 10 days as I undergo an herbal cleanse sacrifice in prep for the Boston Marathon.

Change is good once in a while. I have no problem surrendering the first three items because, for the most part, I already adopt an unprocessed diet, thanks to words of wisdom from food journalists Michael Pollen and Mark Bittman. Caffeine though, I could never give up my happy habit in full. I’d rather be mauled by a cat (and if you know me well, you know all about my avid aversion to felines).

Day 1 (and much to my surprise), I managed to limit my coffee cup to “normal” consumption (i.e., one cup). You can guess how that makes me feel —tired for one, but also cranky and craving. How am I supposed to wake up to the next nine mornings? A cold shower? I don’t think so.

My morning brew bell will be Intelligentsia’s House blend, which I’ve mentioned my affection for in previous posts. If I could change it up, I’d love a cup of Caffe Luxxe’s single origin coffee. Co-founder and creative director, Gary, recently informed me about the Honduras, Costa Rica and Ethiopia coffees for Caffe Luxxe’s drip bar (side note, CL recently opened up a third location at 225 26th St. in Santa Monica). If only I lived on the West Coast! I can just imagine that each coffee boasts fabulous flavor on par with my favorite Caffe (de)Luxxe coffee, Testa Rossa. If I have to limit my crazy consumption to a single cup, this is what I’d choose to drink. I wish I could buy the beautiful brew online, but unfortunately it’s not possible. It sure would help steer me to survival though.


A Coffee Cure at Espresso Cielo

Bitter, watered down coffee—a quick way to disappoint my mood. The opposite flavor, of course, easily boosts it, and that’s exactly what I needed the morning I journeyed into Espresso Cielo on 3101 Main Street in Santa Monica.

Espresso Cielo, Santa Monica

Pacific time always throws my body out of whack, and when coupled with one too many drinks at The Penthouse atop the Huntley Hotel one Friday night in September, I was needless to say thirsty for a hopeful hangover remedy. The morning should have included plenty of H20, but instead I hydrated with what’s likely considered about two day’s worth of caffeine (contrary to what you might think, I promise, I really am a health nut).

I made way to Espresso Cielo for two reasons: one, it was within walking distance from my friend’s apartment at The Shores and two, the café serves 49th Parallel Coffee.

I back the belief that the Pacific Northwest hits the spot for fine-tasting brew. And it’s no coincidence that 49th Parallel Coffee is located in Vancouver. The company clearly understands the art of roasting. Every batch of the green coffee is carefully prepared by the “Master,” aka Michael Piccolo, who canadianliving.com dubs as one of the “the reigning kings in Vancouver’s coffee-centric culture,” along with 49th’s co-founder Vince Piccolo.

The Piccolo’s travel all over the world to establish a direct relationship program with coffee farmers. The ethical standards set are equally premium as the company’s coffee.

Take for instance the cup I sipped inside Espresso Cielo. Brought forth in a delicate sky blue porcelain cup was a peacefully smooth brew as warm and inviting as the café itself. The name of the blend I drank is clouded for said reasons. I just remember feeling practically back to equilibrium after the first cup, and after the second, capable of running along the Santa Monica bike path. Was I recharged enough to challenge the ever-popular, ever-daunting Santa Monica Stairs? No. But let’s face it, steep, endless stairs aren’t a good idea when you’re recuperating from white lychee cosmos and a lack of sleep. I will say that the 123°W Longitude I brought back was quite delicious. The medium-roast blend is comprised of caramel and butterscotch, a polished flavor profile that provides your taste buds with steady sweetness—and an every-morning mood booster.


Una Bella Tazza

Southern California has a lot to offer. There’s the obvious: ideal weather, beautiful beaches, West Coast waves, mouthwatering cuisine, the sweetest Lychee Martini’s, and of course, the eye candy trekking down Muscle Beach (kidding). Actually, nestled not too far from this enormous playground is my beloved California café: Caffè Luxxe.

The first time I ventured into Caffè Luxxe, I thought I’d stepped into heaven. Celestial rays of light graced stunning white décor, and there was a streamline of beautiful cups of espresso, each topped with carefully crafted rosettas—at least, that’s my definition of divine.

Every detail in this little gem is perfectly polished and elegant—from the French macaroons that align an array of exquisite pastries, to the lovely fresh flowers ornamenting the front counter. What’s most eye-catching, though, is watching the baristi autograph each caffee espresso with milk foam art in the shape of a leaf or tree, known as a rosetta. The masterful creation: una bella tazza, which translates to “a beautiful cup.”

The craftmanship of each cup is one of the distinguishing details that make Caffè Luxxe a must to check out. The other reason: Testa Rossa.

Caffè Luxxe, Santa Monica

The three times I’ve journeyed inside Caffè Luxxe, I’m always steered toward this beautiful and flavorful espresso blend, which you can sniff-test (see above photo). If there existed a coffee perfume, this is the scent I’d wear. Testa Rossa is equally as lux as the café itself. I feel only obligated to walk away with a couple half-pound bags, each of which is packaged in an airtight container—though I’m not sure why because after one taste of this bold blend, you’re bound to quickly demolish it.

Regretfully, there are only two locations in the U.S.—Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood. But grace your presence here just once, and you’ll find yourself flying across the country to freshen the tasteful memory of your first sip.