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The great L.A. coffee scene: Your dream caffeine fix may be just around the corner

July 08, 2013|By Betty Hallock

Serious coffee meets whimsical house-made pretzels at this Yamaguchi Center cafe off Sawtelle Boulevard. In the front window is owner Kibum Sung's cherry-red Diedrich roaster, and the coffee menu includes all the usual espresso-drink suspects, hand-drip coffee and specialties such as Spanish and green tea lattes. Meanwhile, the pretzels are filled with combinations such as sweet potato and cheese, and red bean and cheese.

11309 Mississippi Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 444-9390,

Cognoscenti Coffee

Architect turned barista Yeekai Lim first installed Cognoscenti Coffee as a pop-up inside Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. In December Lim opened a new location in the Clive Wilkinson Architects building in Culver City’s Arts District. Lim makes espresso drinks with beans from a rotating roster of roasters such as Ritual, Heart, Sightglass, Phil & Sebastian and more. The cortado -- espresso cut with warm milk -- is always popular. Off the menu is Cognoscenti’s hot chocolate, made with Twenty-Four Blackbirds’ drinking chocolate.

6114 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 363-7325; at Proof Bakery, 3156 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 664-8633;

Espresso Profeta

A Westwood coffee bar that pulls Seattle-based Vivace’s Vita espresso, located off a pretty courtyard on a quiet stretch of Glendon Avenue and cofounded by former Vivace barista Mitch Hale. It’s a sweet spot, especially for UCLA students who take advantage of comfy sofas, tables big enough to stack one’s books and Wi-Fi. One of its popular drinks is the Caffe Nico: a breve (espresso with half and half), candied orange syrup, cinnamon and orange zest.

1129 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 208-3375, www.facebookcom/espresso.profeta.

G&B Coffee

Grand Central Market’s flagship coffee bar is a project from Intelligentsia alumni Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski. It’s a 30-foot counter on the Hill Street side of the marketplace with the vibe of a classic Italian espresso bar. The emphasis is on coffee brewed with Kalita Wave drippers. Also on the menu: milkshakes made with McConnell’s ice cream and espresso.

324 S. Hill St., No. C19, Los Angeles,

Go Get Em Tiger

The team behind G&B Coffee downtown is also behind new coffee shop Go Get Em Tiger on Larchmont. Baristas behind the 20-foot bar are meant to be available to walk you through selections, whether single-origin drip coffee (made with a Fetco automatic brewer -- gasp, it's not pour-over coffee) or espresso from the La Marzocco at the end of the bar.

230 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles.

Groundwork Coffee

A local chain of no-frills coffee shops that started as Richard Karno’s rare book and café business in 1990. Groundwork sources and roasts organic and fair-trade coffees, both single-origin and its own blends. Last year it merged resources with L.A.-based Supreme Bean to create a new company.

671 Rose Ave., Venice, (310) 664-8830; 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, (310) 458-3111; 3 Wetminster Ave., Venice, (310) 450-4540; 1501 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 871-0143; 2908 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 452-8925; 108 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, (213) 620-9668;

Handsome Coffee Roasters

Handsome Coffee, gotta love it. Really, you've got to. They make coffee the way they like it, not the way you might like it. That means no nonfat milk, and no sugar. Requests for such will be met with: "We think this way it's delicious." And it is. The downtown roaster has become an Arts District hot spot, for coffee and for the Guerilla Tacos, available from a stand out front a few days a week. Other quirks: don't ask for a macchiato, cappucino or latte – it’s 3 ounces, 5 ounces or 10 ounces of espresso with milk.

582 Mateo St., Los Angeles, (213) 621-4194,

Intelligentsia Coffee

Chicago-based Intelligentsia's first L.A. location at Sunset Junction was a coffee shop game changer, and the constant lines that snake out of the blue-and-white-tiled cafe are a testament to its continued status as a caffeine magnet for Silver Lakers. The Venice and Pasadena locations are as populated, and the baristas as meticulous.

55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 578-1270; 3922 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 663-6173; 1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 300-1233;

Jones Coffee Roasters

Chuck Jones has been running Jones Coffee since the mid-'90s. He and his family (his mother grew up in Guatemala on her grandfather's coffee farm) started their Pasadena coffee business and Jones Coffee has since become an institution. So much so that parking at their Raymond Avenue shop is a challenge (too bad they did away with curbside pickup).

693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 564-9291,

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