LA is a city that is constantly on the move (even if we're moving at a glacial pace on the freeway). Our fuel to get through the day? Coffee. And lots of it. Whether it's paired with a fantastic brunch or enjoyed solo, good java is as necessary to Angelenos as a solid taco stand. But where can you find great coffee? And what makes a good coffee shop? To help you find the perfect cup, we've sipped our way through the best coffee shops in town—check out our guide, refuel and get back out there. You've got things to do.
The 10 best coffee shops in LA
Tourists and Westsiders may wait in 20-minute lines at Intelligentsia up the street, but locals prefer Cafecito, the quieter shop on Hoover. Here you’ll find less pretension and more privacy—as well as the addictive Espresso Clandestino. The shop is small with only a bit of counter space inside, but a spacious covered (and pet-friendly) patio makes for a good place to get work done, catch up with friends or make eyes at your neighbor. Street parking isn't tough to find, and bike racks abound for two-wheeled commuters.
The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea and Cocoa is a haven for coffee (tea and cocoa, too) lovers. These folks know their stuff. Ask any one of their friendly staff members to help you decide which beans to bring home, or which of their hundreds of teas to order, and you'll get an education that isn't intimidating or brusque. The business roasts all of its beans in-house and also fulfills online and wholesale orders. It's a popular spot for writers, moms and Sony employees., and you may see interns ordering a gaggle of coffees from a list on their iPhones—but there's a good chance there won't be a laptop in sight (it's a no Wi-Fi zone). It's a refreshing feeling to walk into a coffee shop and see people talking or reading books or writing with actual pens and paper—and it's something the Conservatory wants to, well, conserve.
Go Get Em Tiger comes from the growing coffee empire by Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski, a duo who's G&B Coffee (housed in Grand Central Market) deserves just as much recognition as their Larchmont Village and, more recently, Los Feliz coffee shop. At Larchmont's light-filled, minimalist space, customers can choose from grab-and-go bottles of housemade cold brew, pastries and retail items from brewing supplies to beans; the Los Feliz location boasts a beautiful patio where you can enjoy grain bowls and chorizo hash in the sunshine. There is, of course, an all-star line-up of coffee—expect four to six rotating varieties at a time, like Ritual, Forty Ninth Parallel and Heart Roasters. Our number one pick? Try a cappuccino made with almond milk.
Old Pasadena has its humble share of boutique cafés, but Copa Vida offers the entire gamut of coffee and tea experiences: A $2-a-cup honor bar during morning rush hour, traditional counter service, an upscale slow bar experience and live music on weekend nights. Oh, and did we mention brunch? The front section of the clean, bright space views the enchanting Castle Green, while the side room offers a more conversational-yet-intimate environment anchored by a dark wood mailbox cabinet, a leftover from the space’s days as a wine club (owner Steve Chang plans on repurposing the unit for a bean and leaf membership club). Behind the counter, Frank La and Sam Hong (Café Dulcé Pop-Up) manage a fleet of sleek contraptions that offer tastes to match their looks, particularly with a lever pull of the refreshing teas on tap—standouts are the floral Ti Guan Yin and the tastes-like-Christmas Endurance.
Clean, bright and airy, Eightfold is a refreshing addition to Echo Park's growing coffee scene. There's nothing but smiles and pleasantries behind the counter here, where you'll find pastries from Rockenwagner, a rotating selection of bento boxes, and coffee and tea. The coffee shop has a Japanese influence to its selection, so try their killer matcha latte while perusing Eightfold's well-curated book selection. Short marble-topped tables line one wall, while a communal table is perfect for collaboration or working on your laptop (yup, there's free WiFi here, too).
Blackwood Coffee Bar sits at the base of Runyon Canyon, a chic yet comfortable space offering caffeine hits to both hikers and sedentary folks. Inside, plush benches and chairs make it easy to settle in for hours (there's free WiFi, plus a magazine rack with plenty of reading material), while the outdoor patio provides a little more sunshine and some prime people watching. On the menu, customers will find your standard cups of joe, but you'd be missing out if you didn't take a chance on some of the more out-there items: a horchata cold brew, for example, or Blackwood's namesake drink served in a martini glass. One of our personal favorites is the sparkling espresso, comprised of house-made espresso shrub, sparkling water and lemon zest.
Menotti's Coffee Stop—emphasis on the "stop"—feels like a friendly refuge from the neighboring Venice Boardwalk. The interior is welcoming but spartan, with most of the attention focused on the bean selection and, behind it, a stack of vinyl and a taxidermy armadillo. You won't really find much seating; there's a bench, a sinigle table and a narrow wooden bar that barely fits a coffee cup and a tasty, croissant-like cinnamon roll. Consider your almond milk latte to go a dose of tranquility to tote along the Boardwalk. But there are occasional opportunities to linger inside, namely during coffee tasting sessions of San Francisco-based Four Barrel Coffee.
It may be devastatingly hip in both attitude and décor, but Alfred Coffee & Kitchen wears its signature handlebar mustache well. Swing by one of their multiple locations—West Hollywood, Studio City, Brentwood or Silver Lake)—to witness a young, tanned (and invariably Rag & Bone-clad) barista fashion you a mean Americano, which you can sip on either at the communal tables or counters. The Wi-Fi is free, the coffee is courtesy of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the pastries are tasty and the experience is irresistibly Instagram-able (Seriously. That "But first, coffee" decal should have its own handle.).
Formally a private home, Aroma Coffee & Tea Company has transformed itself into a darling cafe where you can grab a coffee, slice of cake or full-on meal to enjoy in one of the many seating areas. Their expansive coffee and tea menu caters to everyone from the espresso lover to the chai latte enthusiast, and an abundance of milk options make it easy to tailor your drink. Inside of the cafe, a library-like atmosphere (complete with fireplace) makes it feel like you're chilling at home, while outside is more casual with multiple seats on the back patio and some tables on the sidewalk. Our favorite time to visit? Brunch, when savory omelets and French toast galore are paired with coffee and shuttled out of the kitchen to chic Valley dwellers.
"Would you like the quiz?" you might be asked at Blacktop Coffee's counter. "Hot or cold? Big or small? 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)? This tiny shop offers a few chairs and benches on the street and a small menu that reads White (lattes, cappuccinos), Black (Americanos, shots), Chocolate (mochas) and daily specials. 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.