Producing a comprehensive list of the coffee shops in Los Angeles could be encyclopedic in length, simply because there are so many. Listing the “best” coffee makes the competition a bit tougher, but the list is still substantial. For this round-up, the 12 noted cafes serve special cups of brew, but also herald hidden gem and design status, recent expansions, or international allure.
Born in 2009 in Oakland, California, Bicycle Coffee Cafe & Roastery features organic free trade beans, predominantly from Guatemala (with a Tokyo, Japan location as well). The first L.A. shop opened in East Hollywood in 2015 with coffee bean bags delivered by bikes with attached trailers. A second L.A. shop opened July 2018 with an in-house roaster in Little Tokyo’ s renovated 1931 Brunswig Square Building. The lit up graphic coffee menu includes over 20 different drink options, including CBD cold brew and kombucha on tap—with refillable jugs. Food selections include pastries and bread from local vendors, including Bread Lounge, Lodge Bread Co., and the Rooster Truck. The large space has a loft-like ambiance with benches and tables for seating, concrete floors, exposed pipes, white walls, and painted coffee plant wall mural. There is plenty of coffee still delivered by bike, but the brick and mortar location invites people to come and socialize or plug in and work. And on Fridays, pour overs and regular cold brew are free!
358 E 2nd St, Los Angeles 90012
When Grace and Elizabeth Rhee were forced to close their popular Koreatown café due to building development issues in 2014, they took some time to find a new location, and re-opened a new BrewWell in the summer of 2016. Fortunately for loyal customers, they aren’t too far away as they landed on Sunset Boulevard in a postage stamp-sized coffee shop. There’s only room for the baristas serving from a walk up window with a couple tables outside. Their brews remain exceptional with Heart Roasters coffee beans. The menu is filled with creative blends, including a variety of iced and cold latte flavors (lavender, honey cinnamon, Nutella, and matcha). Also find bottled cold pressed juices, kombucha, a sparkling Lavonade (made with fresh lemons and lavender syrup), and a coffee float with cold brew and mascarpone gelato. Pair a drink with a pastry, bagel, or homemade pop-tarts.
6515 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90028
Collage Coffee is a 200-square-foot café in Highland Park that's as much a must for coffee, as it is for the colorful tile gracing the interior and exterior space. Friends Phill Kim, Eric Pfleeger and Kevin Hockin opened this mod spot on York Boulevard in 2017. Coffee beans are procured from Wisconsin-based Ruby Coffee Roasters and hot drinks are served in ceramic cups made by Kim, who also offers some for sale. The coffee menu includes the usual suspects done precisely well and a rich cold brew poured on tap. Oat milk is also offered. Seating is tight, with a couple of tables on the rustic side patio and a bench under a tree in front. Food offerings include various toasts on Bub & Grandma’s bread, gluten-free waffle-on-a-stick, homemade pop-tarts, and pastries. Tea drinkers will enjoy the Sweet Rose Tea Latte. The handmade tiles are courtesy of Faile, a Brooklyn-based artistic collaboration. Community embrace runs deep with a bi-annual, artist residency featuring original works gifted to Collage that are auctioned with 100% of the proceeds reinvested into the Highland Park neighborhood - specifically towards supporting underfunded youth arts and music programs, LGBTQ youth, and transitional housing.
5106 York Blvd, Los Angeles 90042
This very cozy café in Glassell Park is the perfect neighborhood gathering spot—and the precise vision Sydney native Rex Roberts and wife, Lorena Jurado had when they moved into the area and decided to open their little shop in the fall of 2017. The minimalist interior at Little Ripper Coffee evokes a bit of a surfside vibe with counter stools for seating. The exterior has scattered seating in front, on a side patio, a on a wood bench circling a tree. Coffee is made from La Colombe beans. Do not miss the Little Ripper— house made almond milk infused with lavender, turmeric, or chicory-cacao and two shots of espresso over ice with a side of Tim Tam cookies. The simple breakfast/lunch menu provides a perfect snack or a light meal. Choices include toast topped with avocado, lox, or ricotta, but there are also ‘jaffles’—the Aussie version of grilled cheese, but with crimped sides. Order the basic with cheddar cheese and add vegemite; get it loaded with prosciutto and avocado; or sweet with Nutella and bananas.
4155 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles 90065
In Spring of 2018, Jacob Park and Joonmo Kim opened their second Maru Coffee location in the Downtown L.A. Arts District, just two years after opening a small shop on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz. Both spaces have a sleek, minimalist design with a subdued cream palette and an artistic aesthetic, but the second time around they’ve landed in a large, airy industrial space. In-house roasted beans are sold by the bag. Special signature coffees including the spiced cold brew topped with sweet cream; iced long black topped with cream; espresso tonic served with a dried orange slice; and iced matcha latte made with authentic, ceremonial grade Ippodo matcha. Almond milk, as well as the latest “it” milk, oat is available on request. Hot drinks are served in pottery mugs and placed on wood trays. Light food options include a special granola with millet and maple syrup, croissants, muffins, and a heavenly canele.
1019 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles 90021
Whether you’re an architecture or coffee fan, you can’t miss Nossa Familia, a Portland, Oregon import founded in 2004 by Brazilian native Augusto Carneiro. With a roaster and three cafes in Portland, this fourth location is the first in L.A. and a true hidden gem. The coffee bar occupies the corner lobby of the meticulously restored 1931 Art Deco CalEdison building that sits in the shadow of the US Bank Tower in the Downtown L.A. Financial District. With coffered ceilings, 17 different types of marble, and a mural titled “Powerful” by artist and film director, Hugo Ballin, the 14-story building is among the most beautiful in Los Angeles. Coffee drinks are brewed with beans roasted in Portland, and sourced from family farms in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Kenya. The brief menu includes two very special traditional Brazilian drinks—cafezinho, known as a "welcome" drink, and mocha fogo, which combines spicy chocolate, vanilla, cayenne, cinnamon and topped with whipped cream. Hang out on couches with one-hour wi-fi access, or grab a game of chess at the communal table.
601 W. 5th St., Los Angeles 90071
Three of Australia’s most touted coffee purveyors opened their first location on Fairfax Avenue in 2015 amidst street wear fashion shops and an array of eclectic eateries. Partners Russell Beard, Mark Dundon and Jin Ng opened the second Paramount Coffee Project at the ROW DTLA in Spring 2018. The design is similar to the Fairfax location, but on a larger scale with huge windows, wood and concrete materials, and greenery. The coffee menu includes variations of espresso and filtered coffee any way and size you like it—Gibraltar, piccolo, flat white, cappuccino, latte. The full breakfast/lunch menu includes the popular PCP breakfast sandwich (curried egg, house-cured ham, and pea tendrils); uni toast; and an Aussie classic, the sausage roll. Pastries are supplied fresh daily from Bakers Kneaded. Don't miss the bags of roasted beans for sale, including Verve, Kuma, and Brandywine.
777 S Alameda St., Los Angeles 90036
Brisbane natives Elyse Goyen and siblings Tom and Kate O’Conner opened their tiny Aussie café, Roo Coffee in Silver Lake’s Sunset Triangle Plaza in February 2018. The sunny looking café with a white-awning beckons as does the pastry case once you enter. Take a seat at one of the few inside tables—or sit outside at the pink and white terrazzo tables. Roo offers an array of Counter Culture bean coffee drinks, including flat white, long black, and specialties such as Macadamia Iced Latte (made with nuts), Morning Sunshine Smoothie (flash brew iced coffee, coffee grinds, ice cream, and vanilla bean). Oat milk is an option too. For non-coffee drinkers, there are many magical options, including the Golden Wellness Latte made from turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, agave and pink pepper with a Tenzo matcha shot. Food options include avo smash toast with goat cheese, dukkah, and poppy seed micro herbs; as well as bowls with granola and bircher. Childhood dreams come true with fairy toast, updated using a thick slice of charcoal sourdough from Friends & Family, slathered with mascarpone cheese and "hundreds and thousands"—the Australian term for sprinkles.
1523 Griffith Park Blvd. Los Angeles 90026
Nossa Familia’s regional manager Alex Kipling is behind SPLA Coffee, a 350-square-foot Brazilian coffee bar that opened in early September 2018 at Kim Sing Theatre in Chinatown. The modern gray space is designed with concrete and tile that reflects the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Using Brazilian microlot coffees and espresso blends from Panther Coffee in Miami, specialty drinks include a traditional cafezinho, served black in a small glass cup and sweetened sugar; and the batida, served iced and blended or shaken with milk and sugar. Small bites include pão de queijo (cheese balls) and brigadeiros (bon bons with chocolate sprinkles). The hotel itself is among the world’s smallest (one booking), and one of the most interesting event venues in LA. The 1926 building has been a vaudeville theater, king fu movie house, home to Willard Ford (Harrison’s son), and the location where Katy Perry live streamed for a few days last year to promote her album, Witness. 714 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90012
Restaurateur Beau Laughlin opened Scout right between his two restaurants, Sawyer and Kettle Black in Silver Lake. This 240-square-foot shop - part general store, fast-casual counter, and coffee shop - is housed in a modern space that features vintage-style floral wallpaper, brass accents, white tiles, concrete counters, and ash shelves which showcase an array of carefully curated lifestyle brands. Grab food and drinks to go, or take a seat out on the sidewalk facing Sunset Boulevard. Portland-based Heart Coffee is the bean of choice for favorite serious coffee drinks. Smoothies and tea, including matcha, will satisfy the non-coffee drinker. Menu accompaniments include a grain bowl, toasts, and sandwiches like spicy fried chicken, grilled cheese, and a vegan wrap. Pastries are by Friends & Family owner/pastry chef Roxana Jullapat.
3707 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90026
Brothers Mike and Eric Yi spent a couple years wheeling around in their coffee truck before they decided to set the brakes and open a brick and mortar in Westlake’s Rampart Village in March 2018. The Tactile Coffee brick storefront features North Carolina's Counter Culture coffee and offers a list of some unique coffee drinks. Specialties include: Mocha with Dutch processed cocoa, powdered cane sugar, and sea salt; Black & Tan, either hot or iced with tan syrup; Blackstrap Latte with Blackstrap molasses syrup. Also find brewed pour overs and a cold brew. Tea lovers will want to sip the Indra Chai house-made blend of whole spices and black tea that’s been cold brewed for 14 hours. Fun petite drinks include: ganache cortado with dark chocolate; five-second rule – basically a shot of espresso with cold almond milk in a chilled glass that must be consumed within five seconds of being served; and the Hibiscus + Espresso Sparkler, a bubby concoction of house-made hibiscus syrup, espresso, and Topo Chico. The brief, but tasty food menu includes biscuits, and a few sandwiches on house-made focaccia bread.
3109 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles 90057
Tilt Coffee Bar in Downtown L.A. is a bit difficult to find unless you know where to look— and that is inside the courtyard of the Medallion Apartments. Just look for the sleek, tilted kiosk designed with glass and metal, accented by a giant suspended lotus flower. Owner Suk Hong prepares coffee drinks using Portland-based Heart Coffee. All drinks are well-prepared, but you’re here for two signature drinks—the Cloud Mocha, made with layers of espresso, milk, chocolate and a cold cream that is made fresh daily; and the Cloud Latte, an iced version with maple syrup substituted for chocolate. Pastries are brought in my nearby Bread Lounge. Take it out to the adjacent grass area and sip as you take in the blue sky and clouds above.
334 S. Main St, Los Angeles 90013