Andy Allen’s Top 5 LA Coffee Houses
The Masterchef winner shares his picks for the daily grind.
After stepping victoriously out of the Masterchef kitchen in 2012, ANDY ALLEN’s love affair with food has shown no signs of letting up. He travelled to LA earlier this year and quickly became hooked. He spent most of April there, investigating what makes a place successful in the City of Angels. Over the next few weeks he’ll share his Top 5 LA picks, which will cover coffee houses, eateries and bars around the city.
Coffee. Let’s face it: 99% of us love it, need it and straight up can’t function with out it. I’ve been lucky to hone my food skills from the boys at Three Blue Ducks in Bronte, and a huge bonus of working there is that the coffee is outstanding – it’s exactly what I need when I walk through the door for my 6am starts. I’m no connoisseur, but I’m working on my caffeine education and I like to think I can tell a good one from a bad one.
I’ll start by saying that the coffee experience is LA is very different to Oz. Namely, there’s the love of iced coffee (which makes sense given the steamy climate), the huge pour over amounts, the lack of accompanying breakfast options and the sheer size of the drinks – my first Americano (or “long black” as they called it) came in a 500ml take away cup and left my eye twitching for the next three hours. Despite these differences, the coffee scene in LA is actually quite solid. Here are the top five places I found to get some of that liquid gold.
#1 Blue Bottle Coffee
Where: 1103 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice
Blue Bottle Coffee is an ever-growing coffee chain with cafes in San Francisco, New York, LA and Japan. You’ll find it in Venice on the bustling hipster strip Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Blue Bottle is exactly what you’d expect from an LA coffee house – the industrial style fit out resembles a coffee science lab with various pieces of coffee brewing equipment on display, which all signals that they take their coffee seriously. The good news is that looks do not deceive. The coffee is all time, and you can sip your takeaway as you leisurely stroll down Abbott Kinney Boulevard, one of the coolest blocks in America.
#2 Coffee Commissary
Where: 801 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles
Situated on North Fairfax, Coffee Commissary turned into my local while I lived in West Hollywood. The beans come from a few different hip roasters, and this vibe filters through the vibe of the cafe. You’ll see plenty of stylish folk attending to their emails or having casual meetings over coffee. The outdoor courtyard seating is a total win, and so is the array of different sweet and savoury pastries on offer in the prominent snack cabinet. I suggest trying the asparagus turnover with your choice of hot or cold brew.
#3 Alfred Coffee and Kitchen
Where: 8428 Melrose Place A, Los Angeles (plus two other locations)
Alfred Coffee and Kitchen boasts three LA locations. I tried the hidden little gem (down the alley) at 8509 Melrose Avenue. The space is fitted out nearly perfectly for what it is. A lot of thought has gone into the look and feel of the cafe – they even commissioned New York label Rag and Bone to design their work wear. The extra thought pays off, transforming the cafe from another spot to get your daily caffeine fix into a place you’d want to park yourself for hours, sampling the numerous drips they have on offer. Take your friends here to impress them. Its’ great coffee in an even better atmosphere.
#4 Short Cake
Where: 6333 W. 3rd St. Stall #316, Los Angeles
Shopping zone The Grove is a must-visit while you’re in LA, and there’s a great coffee joint there called Short Cake. They have a much more laid back approach to serving coffee, but this doesn’t get in the way of providing quality. My espresso was solid and the savoury puff pastry square with feta, basil and tiny sweet but acidic cherry tomatoes was simple, perfect and finished in less than ten strides. Afterwards, you can also do a spot of boutique shopping before wrapping your lips around the deliciousness of Umami Burger.
#5 Earth Bar
Where: Numerous locations in Los Angeles
Forgive me for rounding out my top five coffee joints with a health bar, but we are talking about LA here. For those of you who don’t have a relationship with coffee, try Earth Bar on for size. It might be the most ridiculous health bar to ever exist. You’ll find great juices, acai bowls and smoothies (the Flax Master is delicious), but that’s not even the half of it. Ready for this? You can actually get vitamins pumped directly into your veins! Take a moment to process that.
Sure, it’s pretty over the top but hey – next time I wake up a bit dusty after a big night out, I may be willing to see what these vitamin shots can really do.
(Lead image: Alfred Coffee & Kitchen/Facebook)