Best coffee shops in Downtown LA
You don't come to Blue Bottle Coffee for the Wi-Fi (there is none). You don't come for the pastries (there are only a few options displayed under a glass case). You come for the coffee, for the Blue Bottle brand that started in Oakland and, after spreading to both coasts, has now planted itself in the former space of Handsome Coffee Roasters. But fans of Handsome Coffee shouldn't shun the newcomers. The small but curated menu caters to the Downtown Arts District clientele with shots of dense espresso and a few options for drip coffee and cold brew. Oh yeah, and about that cold brew: the New Orleans variety, which Blue Bottle has managed to box up in cute school cafeteria-style milk cartons and sell across the country, is a solid option here. It's at once creamy and bitter, and a great introduction to the cold brew craze.
"Would you like the quiz?" you might be asked at Blacktop Coffee's counter. There's no right or wrong answer here, just a friendly barista wanting to make you the perfect cup of coffee. "Hot or cold? Big or small? Do you want to sip it or shoot it back? Sticking around or taking it to go?" Then he'll whip up a tailored cup of Sightglass coffee, and it somehow tastes like exactly what you were craving. Would you expect anything less from Blacktop's founder, Tyler Wells, who also started the beloved Handsome Coffee Roasters (bought by Blue Bottle in 2014)? His latest project, located next to retail art warehouse Alchemy Works, strips the fluff away and instead is all about the bean. This tiny shop (seriously—it's only about 250 square feet) feels more European than anything else, with a few chairs and benches on the street and a small menu that reads "Whites" (lattes, cappuccinos), "Blacks" (Americanos and shots) and "Chocolates" (mochas). You don't come here to work (there's no WiFi, nor any real table space). You come here for a quick cup of coffee among friends and a pop quiz from your neighborhood barista.
For coffee hounds, Café Dulcé in the Japanese Village Plaza is a must. From cortados and cappuccinos to a great Vietnamese iced coffee, you’ll find excellent options here for getting your java fix, with hot and cold coffee made with beans from various specialty roasters (most recently, Madcap Coffee Company beans were in the hopper). Grab a green tea donut or a donut hole topped with Fruity Pebbles, sit at one of the tables outside, and watch the ebb and flow of Little Tokyo.
Japanese-style cold brew is the specialty of this trendy neighborhood coffee shop, which has an impressive display of siphons on the shelves and a menu that breaks down the subtle flavor differences of each blend, note by note. With a rotating list of beans from various parts of the world, you may visit this shop and never get two cups of coffee alike. One constant: the luxurious sipping chocolate that arrives with a giant, roasted marshmallow. Don't expect to settle into comfy sofas, though—the shop is all about clean, modern lines with high top chairs and tables, as well as an outside patio.
There may not be a coffee shop that embodies the grit and creativity of Downtown's Fashion District as eloquently as Coffee Colab. Turn down 8th Street and you'll find the tiny espresso bar grinding beans from Suits & Knives and a few other LA-based roasters, while antique knicknacks (think old typewriters) and coffee-inspired artwork decorate the space. One such piece of art is the menu that lists the offerings in the shape of a Chemex: espresso, black coffee, cold brew, latte, Americano, mocha, cappuccino and cortado. Place your order and, if you're looking to stay awhile, snag one of the few chairs or benches outside. There's Wi-Fi, but Colab isn't very conducive to working—just sipping and watching Fashion District denizens go by.
The former Sqirl pop-up has come a long way: as one of the first newcomers to revitalize the now-thriving Grand Central Market, G&B Coffee has received continual praise for its exceptional coffee and champion baristas. Founded by Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski, the coffee bar opens up onto Hill Street and is a perfect spot for people-watching, reading the morning paper and chatting up other early birds who battle the morning crowd for an espresso or iced latte (their macadamia-almond milk version was named the best iced latte in America by the New York Times). They've got some pretty unique brews and items on hand, too: the Business & Pleasure is three drinks in a row, including a shot of fizzy tea, an espresso and a macadamia-almond milk latte.
The Daily Dose is a coffee shop and cafe serving up artisanal coffee and soul-satisfying food, made with natural ingredients sourced from local farmers, ranchers and fisheries. The food menu is full of tongue-in-cheek dish names, like The Ballerina, a duck egg fried in olive oil on ciabatta with butter and apricot jam. Opt for fun drink options like Disco lemonade (Meyer lemonade with agave-marinated cherries) and the Bang Bang (gunpowder green tea with honey-ginger syrup), or go for one of their classic coffee beverages to enjoy outside.
Shreebs has popped up in the Arts District—but for how long they'll stay, no one is certain. The pop-up coffee shop, currently located in a shipping container in the Arts District, has previously set up shop in a backyard in Venice, a laundromat in Hollywood and other random locations throughout LA, serving locally-sourced, fresh roasted coffee to neighbors in need. Stop by for one of their unique cold brew lattes, like a choco chili latte made with dark chocolate, smoked chipotle chili and cane sugar.
The Classic Coffee has sprouted up in Downtown LA's fashion district looking as sleek and stylish as the Angelenos that work around them. Located in a large warehouse with floor-to-ceiling windows that let in tons of natural light, the coffee shop is a refreshing change from the too-small espresso bars that are so popular in this neighborhood. Pour over coffees, espressos, and specailty drinks make up the menu here, including "the Fashionista": an espresso with simple syrup and 2% milk. A variety of roasters are featured—Stumptown and Intelligentsia are just a few—and crafted into quality drinks by talented, bow-tied baristas.
If, by the late afternoon, you still haven't met your day's caffeine quota, make your way to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the coffee house that started in Portland and (some would say) served as the catalyst for Downtown's massive coffee culture boom. Housed in a 7,000-square foot warehouse space in the Arts District, the building boasts a 60-kilo Probat coffee roaster, pastries from Sugar Bloom and a menu of 20+ coffees and espresso-based drinks. Plan your visit for 3pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, when the staff leads daily cuppings (that's coffee tastings, for you non-coffee nerds).