Category Archives: Venice Beach

SoCal Coffee

Just returned from a much-needed Southern California rendezvous. While there, I hit up some of the best coffee spots SoCal has to offer. Preview a few favorites posted below. Words TK.

Intelligentsia, Venice

Caffe Calabria, San Diego

Pannikin Coffee, Encinitas

Bird Rock Coffee, La Jolla

Caffe Luxxe, Santa Monica

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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.


Intelligentsia’s Brilliant Coffee

“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…

Intelligentsia Venice Coffee Bar

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.