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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Yesterday after work I was catching up on my Twitter stream when I saw that Velvet Cupcakes at the mall (which I first blogged last November) announced they were now serving pour over cups of Intelligentsia coffee. As of right now, Undergrounds is the only other place doing so in SCV, so of course I was excited. By now you are all fully aware of our coffee snobbery, and how the SCV Crew makes frequent trips to Intelli just to get our fix, and other third wave shops throughout LA. So hearing that I could get some orange bag Intelli goodness so close to home, and at a cupcake shop totally made my day.

Before trivia, N8 and I met up for dinner and stopped by Velvet Cupcakes for some coffee. The girls working were really nice to us, and talked us through the pour over method. Although we are super familiar with this (coffee snobs remember) it was nice to see these girls so excited to prepare our cups of coffee!

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Each cup of coffee you order starts with freshly ground beans and ends up as a fresh cup. Sure it may take a little longer, but it is so worth it!

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And…as if that wasn’t enough…as we were drinking our coffee, we were told that starting Friday they would be selling Banana Pudding.

I was so incredibly excited! Those of you that remember my birthday, 2010 remember that HUGE bowl of Banana Pudding that we couldn’t stop gushing over. Well, instead of having to go to Magnolia Bakery in LA…I can now just go to the patios and not only get myself a cup of Intelli, but also some of the best banana pudding, ever? Jackpot! Nate had to hear me gush about this banana pudding all evening. As did everyone I saw at trivia…

So, SCV…have I let you down yet? Trust me on this one! Head over to Velvet Cupcakes for a cup of coffee and some banana pudding. You can thank me later! And, if you have heard us tweet and blog and talk about our love of coffee and have wondered what all the Intelli fuss is about? Now you can check it out for yourself! Do @mic_dee a favor though, try it without the cream and sugar? Just once!

Oh, and of course! You can’t forget the cupcakes!

Velvet Cupcakes

The Patios in Valencia

Accross from Sephora

24201 W Valencia Blvd
Ste 3552
Valencia, CA 91355

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If you know anything about me, then you pretty much know that I’m always trying out the latest third wave coffee shops throughout Los Angeles and beyond. A few months ago I hit up most of what Portland has to offer and declared my life changed by the quality. However, my ultimate coffee shop, my most favorite out of the 3489320842 shops I’ve tried in my life, has been 49th Parallel in Vancouver for a while now. That was until this past Saturday when 49th Parallel was dethroned as being my ultimate most favorite shop ever. That title now belongs to La Stazione Café, located in Tijuana, Mexico.

If you would have told me that I would find the ultimate coffee shop of my dreams in Tijuana, I would have thought you were messing with me. Yet, its funny how the universe puts places in your path and changes your life forever. I had been hearing about La Stazione from RE for a long time. Years, maybe. I figured it was just a cute cafe or something, but nothing could have prepared me for the awesome that is La Stazione.

When I walked inside, I heard the same choir of angels that sang when I first walked into 49th Parallel years ago. This was the coffee shop of my dreams! It was so beautiful. I just stood there with my mouth open staring around for a few minutes. This place totally melted my cold dark heart. And that sign that says Coffee Is Hope? Total melt.

Sure, you are probably thinking, LD? Its just a coffee shop, stop being a dork…so perhaps this will help you understand where I am coming from. As much as I love the third wave shops in Southern California and Portland, I always feel a little out of place. When I go to Intelli, I’m usually the only Mexican person there. The same can be said for pretty much any other coffee shop I frequent in LA. I am a minority, and I may be an educated working professional, but stigmas still exist, and I would be denying the truth, if I were to say that race wasn’t an issue in my life. And here I was, at a wonderful shop that pretty much resembled a Mexican Intelli. I was like the girl in the Blind Melon music video that opened up the gate to where the bumble bees were hanging out. That was me. I was that girl when I walked into this coffee shop.

And then something silly happened. Something unplanned, but very neat. There was a guy sitting at the table next to us listening to us geek out over this epic coffee shop. And then he started speaking English. Yes my friends, there was an American guy hanging out at La Stazione. This time I wasn’t the minority! Boom! Funny how the universe puts people in your path. This guy is Jason, he’s a pretty big deal. He goes to SDSU, but lives in TJ, and runs an incredibly wonderful blog called Tijuanalandia. We ended up exchanging Twitterz, and its funny because it seems like he is someone I would follow on Twitter first, and THEN meet in person, but the exact opposite happened. I had never heard of @tijuanalandia before, but now I’m a fangirl. Seriously, great site documenting life in Tijuana. I love it.

So, back to La Stazione! The shop is beautiful. So beautiful. Dark wood, seating, retro speakers, pour over, legit machine, and baristas that knew their stuff.

 There was NO pretentiousness here. Not at all. It was so chill, I just wanted to hang out forever! All I needed was my MacBook Pro…because yes, since this was the coffee shop of my dreams, the guys hanging out on laptops all had MacBooks! Awesome!

The beauty is in the details and there were so many details in this shop. Everywhere I looked there was something that caught my eye. Even the jars and the labels…in Spanish!

“La Bestia”

And of course they have their own specially roasted coffee for sale. Etiopía o Bolivia.

I ended up ordering a cortado, which is my ultimate drink of choice. Sure the place was lovely, but how was the coffee?

The coffee was AMAZING! And look at the latte art? This coffee was so smooth. It was love.

In addition to drinks, they also have pastries! This bite size tart was super cute and super good! They also have fruit drinks, which are some of my favorites! I was so curious to try their offerings, and I figured I needed to counteract the coffee jitters so I read over the menu.

“Remedios para el Calor”

(Remedies for the Heat)

I had never seen offerings like this anywhere else, but I did see Barista Oliver cutting up fruit and taking such care in preparing these drinks. I needed to try them. They had some tea infused drinks, and Oliver actually steeped the tea for each drink.

All of these cold drinks were freshly prepared! Nothing ready made in a jug. This was serious business! I mean, we are talking shakers and fresh fruit. My ultimate!

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Here is the Jasmine Lemonade. Wow.

And here is my Naranjada. Blood orange something or other. Amazing. Amazing. My only regret in ordering this, is that now I’m craving it all the time. Quite possibly the most refreshing drink of my life. Oliver is a genius! It had huge chunks or oranges in it too. This.

We must have stayed here for well over an hour just hanging out. My uncle was reading the paper, RE and I were taking pictures, chillaxing.

We got to talking to Oliver, asking if there were any other good coffee places to try in the city for our crawl. Him and Jason told us about the VIA building, and that there was a new cafe located there that might be worth checking out. Yay for new friends!

Remember earlier, I talked about the details? Check this out. The mirror says “Cliente del mes” which means “Customer of the month” which I loved! So adorable!

After visiting my fair share of amazing coffee shops throughout various states and countries, La Stazione Cafe in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico is my ultimate and most favorite in all the land. If you find yourself in TJ and want to try some third wave goodness, definitely make it a point to stop by. Its amazing to me how this wonderful shop in Tijuana completely PWNS anything San Diego has to offer. Boom.

La Stazione Cafe

Av. Tapachula 5-C Col. Hipodromo
22024 Tijuana
Mexico

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A while ago, my aunt was telling me about a place in Tijuana that roasted their own coffee and was owned by a guy that was a pretty big deal. A quick google search later, I learned she was spot on. There was a cafe in TJ that was slanging the real deal, third wave, legit coffee that I’m used to finding in LA…in Tijuana? I wouldn’t have thought it…

So after leaving La Diferencia, we surprised my favorite aunt Leti at work, and then headed over to check out Sospeso. When we walked in, Amy Winehouse was playing through the speakers, and I was immediately drawn to the bar. Siphon, aeropress, pour over, chemex…in Tijuana…I asked if I could take photos but was told I would have to go through administration for permission. So you wont see any photos of the bar, but it was a cool set up. They are definitely bringing something new to Baja, so I guess they want to keep their methods in house.

Having been to the best coffee bars in LA, Portland, and Vancouver, and after attending SCAA, and most recently Coffee Fest in SD, none of these methods were new to me, but I can see how they are new to Tijuana. The young man working was very passionate and educated about coffee and told me all about the different methods. I didn’t want to interrupt him and tell him I kinda know coffee culture and my blog is like 75% coffee shops…so I let him tell me. It was super neat to hear this all explained to me in Spanish though.

Sospeso is owned by Alberto Song Trujillo who is incredibly passionate about coffee and has all sorts of baller certifications. He roasts his own coffee, which is available for sale at the shop. The baristas are all trained and definitely know their stuff.

I convinced my aunt to get a siphon…which she had never heard of. The barista recommended their Guatemalan coffee, and my aunt loved seeing the process and declared her coffee to be amazing. I think I’ve turned yet another person into a coffee snob. Excellent!

RE and I ordered a couple of drinks. Everything was so smooth.

As we left Sospeso we were all really happy. Third Wave in Tijuana was now a reality!

Caffe Sospeso

Joaquín Clausell #10342 Zona Río,

Tijuana, C.P. 22320 México

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Los Angeles, my beloved City of Angels, and more specifically Spring Street in DTLA has a new coffee bar. One that I fell in love with as soon as I walked in. One that instantly transported me back to Portland.

I love my job, and I love nothing more than teaching the children, but this past week was full of long work days since I was busying organizing and planning future units and getting ready to start a new novel. What really kept me going on those long 14 hour workdays was the fact that as soon as the weekend hit, I would finally be able to make it out to Coffee Bar! I had been following their progress on the Twitterz and was really excited because they would be slanging Water Avenue (my favorite while in PDX) and they would have a variety of other coffees too.

When I got there I was a bit shocked. I didn’t expect it to be so big. How awesome is this? Once inside I loved the layout and the wood bar. This place was GORGEOUS! I felt like I was back in Portland…

In a display case they have a variety of coffees, but only a few are on bar at any given time. They also have different coffee beans for sale…to take home. I came for the Water Avenue, but was told that would be on bar next week.

For round 1,  super awesome Portland Barista Dave made me a latte using Intelligentsia’s Black Cat. Smooth. So smooth. Love it. In my mind I was back in Portland. After all, my barista was from Portland. My logic.

Here is Dave pouring a drink for someone else. One day I’ll be able to capture a pour on camera…but for now I leave that to RE.

I grabbed a seat at the bar and looked around at this great space. It was busy but not annoyingly busy. People were working on laptops (there are plugs), chatting with friends, hanging out. It was really nice. Penny from Dr. Horrible was there. I know her real name is Felicia Day…but to me she is super sweet Penny. Then her co-star from The Guild showed up. Then I saw a guy in the corner that looked just like N8. Complete with the MacBook Pro. People watching is great.

At some point I went out for Round 2. I wanted something from the Slayer, which I just finished blogging about here. Super Awesome Barista Jared Mockli pulled me a shot of Verve from the Slayer machine. We are so lucky to have a Slayer in Southern California. I may have gone fangirl. And if you have no idea what I mean by Slayer…read up on it here.

I really loved Coffee Bar. I didn’t want to leave. I honestly felt this whole Portland vibe. Nothing pretentious about this place at all. Not only is this spot beautiful, but everyone working was so nice and polite. Plus, they are going to be slanging beans that other places don’t. Water Avenue? Hello! What a great addition to Downtown LA! I love it! I can’t wait to go back with the SCV Crew!
Coffee Bar
600 S. Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Here’s a long overdue post on SCAA…and the infamous Slayer Espresso Machine you’ve heard me talking about all day…

For most of my life, Buffy was the Chosen one…the Slayer…yet last year, I was introduced to a different kind of Slayer…no, not the band…but an Espresso Machine…The Slayer…ooh!

I was at SCAA in Anaheim last April with some friends, walking around, drinking coffee, hanging out, drinking more coffee, enjoying some competitions, and just taking it all in, coffee rockstars everywhere you looked! I’ve never denied the fact that I’m a coffee doofus, but SCAA was like Coffee Disneyland! I loved it!

My press pass granted me admittance throughout the whole convention and it wasn’t until Day 2 when I actually stopped at the Slayer booth. I thought it was just a machine or something, there were a lot of people displaying machines at SCAA. Yet on that day, something was different. The fact that Gwilym Davies was there using the machine logically made me think this machine was kind of special. Too shy, and too much of a coffee doofus to approach Gwilym…I just watched this infamous World Barista Champ at work.

It wasn’t until hours later that I actually came back to the booth and noticed that each time I walked by the booth, there was different coffee out and different baristas pulling shots…

At some point, it was getting late, and it was either now or never. In front of the machine (among other bags) they had Bull Run Roasting Company Dogwood Espresoo from Minneapolis, MN. Sure. Why not. It took me a while to work up the nerve to approach the barista, but he was very nice and ended up pulling me a shot of this espresso.

It turns out his name is Keith Mrotek and he works at Bull Run in MN. Awesome. And he also knows how to use a Slayer machine because he pulled me the most memorable shot of espresso I have ever had in my life. Even watching the process was an experience.

The Slayer machine is beautiful.

I never knew if it was the Dogwood Espresso or the machine that left me with a case of the coffee jitters…or maybe it was because I had been drinking coffee all day…but I’ve always remembered that shot. It was strong. It was great. It was a memorable way to end my experience at SCAA.

It was after SCAA that I learned more about just what the Slayer is. It isn’t just a pretty machine…they are pretty rare. I’ve read conflicting reports, but its probably safe to say that only about 20-40 exist…and only a few of those exist in the United States…and they cost about $18,000. I was reading an article on Serious Eats, in which the owner of Vivace was quoted as saying that “the action and wooden paddles give the feel of being at the helm of a fine yacht” – fancy, huh? Having said that, it takes serious training to learn how to use a Slayer. Ever since then, I’ve been following @espressoslayer on Twitter, and I like to read their blog because they update somewhat frequently. On their own site they describe the Slayer like this:

Slayer is a powerful Industrial Craft-built machine with virtually endless steam capacity plus brew temperature stability on multiple groups even during maximum volume use.  Steam and brew systems are supplied with preconditioned water at 180 degrees F.  All heating is provided by fail-resistant incoloy elements.  Temperature control is maintained by purpose-tuned PID.  Slayer’s brewing system includes both mechanical and electronic components to enable discreet pressure control across the brew band.


As a coffee doofus, I have no idea what that means. Then again, besides SCAA, where Slayer had a booth, I had yet to ever see one in the wild. Until I went to Portland two months ago and on my first night, after walking a few blocks in the rain, I came across Public Domain. I had actually gotten a bag of Public Domain coffee at SCAA, and had enjoyed it, so it was nice to visit their shop.

I ordered a pour over of Panama Esmeralda that night, and as I sat down by the window, something caught my eye. I went to the counter and asked, really excitedly, and probably entirely too loud…”IS THAT A SLAYER!?!?!!?”
Yes. That beautiful machine WAS indeed a Slayer. I recognized it because of the wooden levers. Since I had already ordered my pour over and it was already pretty late, I didn’t have anything from this machine…but it definitely was a lovely welcome to Portland. It was only my second time ever seeing one in person, and that was really neat.
And then! Today I saw what I believe to be the first Slayer in Southern California. Today I was at DTLA’s newest coffee shop, appropriately called Coffee Bar located on Spring Street. I had been awaiting their opening for some time now and finally made it out today, four days after their grand opening. And when I walked in…I saw something beautiful looking back at me…a gorgeous Slayer machine. In DTLA! In my beloved City of Angels! And! It was actually IN USE! It wasn’t just there for display or bragging rights. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by again. I wanted to repeat that SCAA Slayer experience right here in my city. I’d recognize those wood levers anywhere!
So for round two, I asked what was available from the Slayer and was told it was Verve, and that it tasted like apples. Hey, I’m a teacher afterall…I’ve had a busy week of teaching the children…I love apples! Bring it Slayer!
They have two machines at this place, one of them (the machine on the left – as soon as you walk in) is the Slayer. Look for the wood levers. Yacht, remember? Jared Mockli (who is a pretty big deal in the coffee world) was navigating the Slayer today. He’s in town for a few weeks getting this place going and knows how to use it. Awesome to watch!
The result was this shot of Verve (I don’t remember the exact name). Which I’m still feeling, hours later. We’re talking SCAA flashbacks and jitters! I’m also sure it has something to do with the fact that its almost midnight and I’m fully awake cranking out this blog post…So if you heard me on Twitter going on and on about a Slayer during SCAA, on my first night in Portland, or earlier today when I was at Coffee Bar…this is what I was talking about. Fun stuff, right?
Coffee Bar (@coffeebarLA) is located at 600 S. Spring Street in Downtown LA.
And yes, it is definitely going into the rotation on weekends.
Love.
XoXo
-L

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I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about Coava, but it was definitely during their very very early stages, and it had to have been almost a year ago. I kept hearing how amazing their shop was and all about how they shared space with a Bamboo designer…or something like that. The details were fuzzy, but I knew that I definitely wanted to visit this place one day. So much so, that I even added it to my (not a) bucket list.

A few months ago, I actually got to try Coava coffee thanks to my friend Mike L at Blue Dot. It was pretty amazing, I must say! Still…the more I heard about how amazing their actual shop was, the more I longed to visit. Yet, a trip to Portland wasn’t really in the plans. My logic is always that I rather explore more of Canada. D’uh.

We were in Vancouver for Christmas, and after a few days, we decided that maybe we should finally check out Portland for a few days since we had been curious for a while. After all, Portland was only a three hour train ride from Vancouver. If we didn’t like it, we could just go home. Sounded like a plan.

Which brings me to earlier today. I never imagined I would be visiting Coava this year, but here I am in Portland so that’s exactly what we did. It is located across the bridge from downtown in a more industrial area, and we actually walked all the way there from our hotel. Once we walked inside, the feeling of the shop totally came over me. They do share a space with Bamboo Revolution and it was so amazing to see both of these places mesh so well together. In the back you could see the Bamboo guys working hard and then along the side you could see Coava! I instantly was smitten with this set up.

There are tables and chairs among adapted machinery and a feeling that you are really experiencing something different. Like, this place casually came together, and they aren’t even trying that hard to give off this industrial vibe. Almost like things just fell into place for both of these shops. Maybe I’m too tired to put it into words, or maybe it is something you have to experience. I know that everything I had heard leading up to my visit didn’t even come close to how I felt at this shop.
The menu is simple, and they have two different choices. I went with the Kenya because I like blackberries. That’s my logic. I always go for the fruity coffee. The baristas were amazingly nice and friendly and soon my cappuccino was being prepared. Only $3 for this cup of awesome. Score!
Something else I noticed was that their roaster was RIGHT THERE. No, literally, it was a couple of feet from the bar area. When we first walked in, there was someone actually roasting. Right there! After he was done and I got close, I could feel the warmth. Talk about freshly roasted!
Coava is currently selling these little books where you can log your coffee drinking experiences. I’m much of a coffee doofus for this type of book, but I did buy some as souvenirs for my coffee snob friends.
And speaking of my coffee snob friends, I couldn’t leave Coava without picking up a little something else for them too!
I sat down by the window, sitting under some green industrial machine and stared out the front window of this shop. Really, such an amazing feeling. I was finally at Coava and it was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Who knows when or if I’ll ever be back in Portland or at Coava, but the fact is, I made it there today, and it was a wonderful experience, and one that can’t easily be described in words…
Coava Coffee Roasters
1300 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97214

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One of my top three favorite coffee shops in Los Angeles has a new home! Over the past six months or so, I’ve become a frequent customer of this coffee “pop up” shop and in recent weeks I had learned that Yeekai was going to move to a more permanent location. And! Yesterday it finally happened!

I had to miss the grand opening yesterday because I was working, but I ended up making my way over there this morning and what I found at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village was my new favorite bakery/coffee shop in one.

In my mind, I was just going for the coffee…but this place is really the whole package. Come for coffee, stay for the cake!

The decor of the shop is sleek and simple. The cakes and pastries are all so neat and dainty, it was hard to choose what to order. There are tables and chairs and the layout was very well thought out. Pastries on the left and Cognoscenti is set up on the right.

As soon as I walked in, I felt like I was transported somewhere else. Seattle? Vancouver? I think the rainy weather added to this feeling.

Cake. Not the band…

So they have biscuits and pastries, but they also have these amazing looking cakes. Just look at these pictures! Amazing!

Their cake of the day was the Toasted Lemon Meringue Chiffon Cake which cost $5/slice. I decided to go for it because the cake looked amazing and they happened to be offering it as slices.

As for coffee, instead of going with my usual namesake drink, the “LD” I went with a cortado. Of course it was perfection! D’uh!

Yeekai is still using Four Barrell beans and you can get a nice variety of coffee beverages, included pour over. His coffee is amazing!

I could do this every Saturday morning…

Seriously. This place is really really really FANTASTIC. A perfect place to stop by for some coffee and some treats. I am completely in lust with this shop. They have done an amazing job of decorating and I can see it becoming part of my weekend rotation. They have completely outdone themselves.

Soon, our friends Tien and Caroline joined RE, Jeffrey and I and we quickly got settled with coffee and treats. It was a morning spent with friends talking about food, travel, coffee and more. I was telling D that it was like the movies, when people meet up at a coffee shop and talk for hours. Except, today wasn’t a movie. It was my life, and I’m so lucky to have met such amazing people lately.

Cognoscenti’s signature owl.

Seriously, make it a point to check out this shop. If you are near Atwater Village you can find Yeekai here Wednesday – Sunday from 8am-3pm.

We ended up hanging out here for a while, and I’m sure we’ll all be back as often as possible. So happy for Cognoscenti and the crew at Proof Bakery! I’m a total fangirl! Love it!

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