BEST CAFES IN LA TO SIP COFFEE WHILE YOU WORK

Work from home, much? LA’s best coffee shops can also function as your office space—where the coffee is top-notch and laptop loiterers are welcome.

[ via TIME OUT LOS ANGELES]

 

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COFFEE COMMISSARY

MID CITY WEST

This Fairfax storefront is a favorite neighborhood meeting spot for locals who laze on the patio and coffee nerds who drop in for single-origin pour-overs and cold brews from a rotating roster of roasters such as Sightglass Coffee, Coava Coffee and Victrola Coffee Roasters. Writers also drop in (and stay) with their laptops at one of the few tables—be prepared to stake out seating—inside the industrial, minimalist space. Refuel with homemade chai tea and house-baked treats from salted caramel rice crispy bars and granola.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $4 for a pour over
Parking: Free underground lot inside the 801 N Fairfax complex. Enter on Waring Ave.
Loitering meter: 3 out of 5. The number of tables inside (re: outlets) are limited, so be prepared to work outside until you run out of juice or come early to snag prime work space.


 

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PAPER OR PLASTIK CAFE

MID CITY

One part retail store, one part dance studio and one part cafe, this Pico Boulevard storefront is a mainstay for local families, diners and home office workers alike. Order at the counter—coffee from Intelligentsia, Ecco Caffe and Coava; pastries by Cake Monkey and Sweets for the Soul; sandwiches, salads and other plates are seasonal—and sit at one of the many tables inside or out. (The upstairs mezzanine is the place to work.) The wifi can be spotty, but outlets and other coffee shop workaholics are aplenty. Writers should avoid putting in hours on the weekend—wifi and laptops aren’t allowed—but Thursdays have the added bonus of farmers market shopping 4pm to 8pm from Produce Project pop-up.

Wifi: Free. No wifi on weekends
Coffee cover: $3.27-$4.75
Parking: Ample 2 hour metered parking
Loitering meter: 5 out of 5. You’ll be working side-by-side with other home-office workers round the clock.


 

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ESPRESSO PROFETA

WESTWOOD

Coffee nerds and the Portlandia set rejoice as Seattle’s Espresso Vivace lands in LA, namely in Westwood Village. Expect to see fewer UCLA students and more young professionals and a hip, coffee-loving crowd geeking out on perfectly pulled espresso shots. Wifi is free but there are no outlets, so come fully charged (on your laptop, that is) and expect to get recharged on java that’s expertly made from a helpful staff. The idyllic, ivy-filled patio is inspiring and the small list of pastries and breakfast items—we love the almond butter and jam on brioche—satisfying. Try the Café Nico and make sure you get your name in their computer to rack up free shots.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $3
Parking: Limited metered parking
Loitering meter: 4 out of 5. Quiet, quality coffee and never-too-crowded—good for 2 to 3 hour work sessions.


 

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BRICKS & SCONES

MID CITY

With long hours (Mon-Thu 7:30am-10pm, Fri 7:30am-8pm, Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 8am-8pm), free wifi and plenty of comfy seating, this neighborhood coffee shop is the dream home office away from, well, home. Bi-level inside seating is a hodgepodge of leather chairs, tufted armchairs and communal benches, while the lush, lofty front patio is perfect for an alfresco work sesh (outlets included). Prices are cheap and other laptop workers aplenty (so you don’t feel like a 9-to-5 pariah). The go-to pick-me-up is the namesake housemade scones—we love the nuts and jam or blueberry heated up.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $2.30, small; $2.75, large
Parking: 2 hour street parking on side residential streets
Loitering meter: 5 out of 5. Cheap coffee and plenty of comfy seats make for an ideal at-home work day.


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FUNNEL MILL

SANTA MONICA

This Santa Monica coffee shop takes coffee so seriously that they’ve got it done to an art, or, by the look of rows of glass siphons and spotless counters, a science. Teas are brewed á la minute—don’t miss the masala chai or potent ginger tea—and coffee is painstakingly prepared (yes, in the siphons). Single-origin teas and coffees fill an extensive menu, and the selections of baked goods includes vegan, gluten-free breads and cookies. Set up your work station in front of the soothing water fountain on a comfy leather couch or on one of the many tables. But we prefer the front counter—lest you’re easily distracted by coffee slight of hand—overlooking the machine-like crew in the kitchen helmed by JC who’s eager to share with his customers.

Wifi: Free with a purchase of a drink
Coffee cover: $4.25
Parking: Plenty of 2-hour metered parking
Loitering meter: 4 out of 5. Wifi users and coffee nerds are all welcome to stay awhile.


 

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CASBAH CAFE

SILVER LAKE

Down the block from Silver Lake’s neighborhood meeting point, this quaint cafe offers Morocco-does-south-of-the-border charm, however off-beat. The bougainvillea-covered sidewalk patio has a few small tables to soak in the sun on Sunset Junction, but inside lone laptop workers tap away on tiny tables in a bazaar of home furnishings and Mexican clothing and accessories. Take a cue from the cafe’s theme and order a fresh mint tea supplemented with baked empanadas and a huge, rustic bowl of chicken soup—fill up on chunks of chicken, carrots, potatoes and corn on the cob. Seating and outlets can be limited, so prepare for Plan B. (We love the nearby Broome Street General. There are no outlets, but there’s free wifi, plenty of parking and a charming outdoor patio.)

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $2.50, small; $3, large
Parking: Metered parking and 2-hour residential parking
Loitering meter: 2 out of 5. Good luck trying to find a seat by the single outlet.


 

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ALFRED COFFEE & KITCHEN

WEST HOLLYWOOD

If you prefer typing away with a side bar of people-watching, you’ll find home office nirvana at Melrose Place’s Alfred Coffee that oozes cool (handlebar mustaches and Rag & Bone uniforms) and serves up Stumptown coffee. Snag a seat downstairs at the communal table or on the ground level on the patio or along the wall. The space is a tight squeeze and the hard-surfaced (and often backless) seating uncomfortable, so you’ll find an able-bodied set here. Farmshop pastries and juices by Pressed Juicery provide sustenance for this fashionable coffee joint.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $3
Parking: Limited metered parking
Loitering meter: 2 out of 5. Uncomfortable seats and a small space limit long work days.


 

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GRAFFITI CAFE

MID CITY WEST

Sure, the coffee is overpriced, the staff is snooty and the rules are ridiculous (no water bottles allowed, one glass of complimentary water and $1 thereafter), but the lofty space offers comfy, spacious seating in a stark white, gallery-like space that breeds creativity (and your next script). Wifi is complimentary with a purchase of a drink and limited to an hour and a half, but the well-sized parking lot relieves meter maid anxiety. The baristas sport bulging biceps in ultra tight T’s and the playlist rotates between nostalgic to offensive, but a well-stocked menu—Bouchon and Cake Monkey pastries, FonutsLamill teas, Intelligentsia coffee—and an only-in-LA experience makes this cafe one of our favorites to visit.

Wifi: With purchase and limited to 1.5 hours
Coffee cover: $3.95
Parking: Free, on-site lot
Loitering meter: 3 out of 5. Though we can’t stand the attitude, high prices and limited wifi, we still come back for the beautiful space.


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CAFFE VITA

SILVER LAKE

Seattle’s cult-fave coffee lands in Silver Lake at this industrial-looking, bi-level storefront. Eastside freelancers stay caffeinated around the clock with single-origin and blended coffee and well made espresso drinks. Groups and singles can snag a spot by the floor-to-ceiling windows or perch on the compact mezzanine level. Bonus: The water is triple-filtered and serve-yourself free.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $2.50-$3 French press, $5 pour-over
Parking: Limited street parking
Loitering meter: 4 out ot 5. Your Intelligentsia alternative.


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DEUS EX MACHINA

VENICE

Bang out your next script and bro out at this retail spot dedicated to bikes, surfing and Venice cool. Handmade Deus Ex Machina motorcycles and surfboards shaped in-house are on display, along with other “dude-like” paraphernalia. With Handsome Coffee to caffeinate and sandwiches and pastries to satiate, loiterers can spread out on the alfresco patio or at the communal table and leather couches inside.

Wifi: Free
Coffee cover: $2.50
Parking: Free, on-site lot
Loitering meter: 3 out of 5. The types who come in are more interested in chrome hardware than Apple hardware.

NOT JUST FOR DRINKING: COFFEE, COFFEE, AND MORE COFFEE AT THINK TANK GALLERY

Indian-Tales

Ditch the queue at Starbucks. Think Tank Gallery has transformed its space into a coffee bar in order to showcase the best coffee that Los Angeles has to offer. They’re proving what we already believed—that there’s no such thing as too much of it.

This Saturday marks the end of a three-week stretch of coffee-based events in an exhibit created with the legal stimulant. But before dregs are poured out, get down to the gallery to experience some of the city’s best cups while being entertained.  Yesterday, guests were surrounded by Avi Roth’s caffeine-filled artwork, and learned that there can be more to a morning cup o’ joe than its use as a legal stimulant, with LA Coffee Club hosting an Intro to Coffee class. Guests learned how a seed turns into your morning mug through a hands-on brewing class.

Tonight’s event is for the more experienced java artists who think they have what it takes to be crowned champion in a Latte Art Tournament. $5 gets you in to the winner-takes-all tournament, but we beg you, no more cats. Create something original, and the pot may be yours.

But while attending these and other events, remember that the art is what brought it together. Roth’s Coffeegraphs were created solely by using the drink in many of its forms. He describes the unique process on his site as “the process of applying coffee grinds and coffee by-products as organic pigment without a binder to solid and porous surfaces by way of staining, layering and water burning.” And it’s beautiful.

EVENT: LA COFFEE CRAWL

 

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What can be more romantic than a steamy, sensual, hot cup of freshly brewed coffee on a cool winter night? Well, we can’t think of any publicly appropriate mentionables at the moment, so we invite you to spend your Valentine’s Day at the LA Coffee Crawl & Throwdown. The event, hosted by LA Coffee Club, encourages lovers to visit the city’s best local coffee shops and roasters. Coffee crawlers get points for checking in to specific coffee joints to be entered into a grand giveaway. The event culminates in an afterparty from 6-10pm at Project Gallery + Espresso, where the Coffee Crawl’s throwdown will take place and the city’s best baristas will battle it out, showcasing their best latte art for bragging rights.

Below we picked out some of our favorites featured in the crawl:

 

Project Gallery + Espresso

Rich, creamy espresso, a large open gallery and artwork by the month’s featured artist, Ian Ross.

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Iota Brew Cafe

A hidden gem in K-town, Iota serves up coffee, spirits and delectable sweets like the B&W cake pictured below.

 

Graffiti Sublime Coffee 

Sleek interior design, delicious coffee & baked goods and the right music to complete the experience.

 

Handsome Coffee Roasters 

Good coffee accompanied by eye candy (read: handsome baristas.) How can one resist?

 

Intelligentsia

Love hipster-watching while you sip your cup of [strong] coffee? Intelligentsia is the spot to be.

For more information visit:

http://lacoffeeclub.com/crawl/

FOOD SCOOPS: COFFEE + FOOD, A REVELATION FROM DOWN UNDER

Coffee-Plus-Food-Customers

The move from Sydney to Los Angeles is, for the most part, a seamless one. The two cities flow at a similar pace, with life lived mostly in the sun. Yet since the day I arrived in this glorious city I have been desperately trying to navigate my way through one of the only culture shocks I experienced – coffee.

This is where the two cities disagree. Coffee in Sydney is a social ritual, delivered with care and precision and enjoyed as a moment to stop, not as a fuel to keep going. In America, the sheer volume by which coffee is consumed on an hourly basis means that for most, it’s a habit, regardless of how it’s served or even how it tastes.

But coffee in LA is well on its way to changing. Los Angeles is in the middle of what’s been dubbed the 3rd wave coffee movement. More and more people are treating coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, and paving the way for improvements on all stages of production, from harvesting to roasting to brewing—as our friends at LA Coffee Club recently noted.

It is with impeccable timing then that Australian-inspired café Coffee + Food should arrive on Melrose. Placed unassumingly in the ever growing Larchmont-Melrose intersection, Coffee + Food is the brainchild of Australian ex-pat Mel Cain and Angeleno Cyndi Finlke. As is typically the case with these things, it was a vacancy that lead the two friends to go where neither had gone before and open a coffee shop. Born through Mel’s passion for coffee and dream of owning a café and Cyndi’s local knowledge from successfully curating two art studios and running a craft service business, Coffee + Food is entirely about superb, well bodied coffee and wholesome, quality food made with local produce and love.

Coffee-plus-Food-Restaurant

 

There’s a pervasive happy feeling you get upon walking in, largely thanks to the supremely welcoming people behind the counter, which is just what Mel Cain always hoped to achieve. “We wanted it to feel like our home, like we were bringing people into our homes and feeding them,” Meg told LAC.

Industrialized chairs and stools give the café a modern feel while barn wood, chalk boards and photographs dot the walls in perfectly cozy juxtaposition. The counter is where it’s at, the espresso machine at its heart, the deli case full of can’t choose breakfast and lunch options and various sweet and savory delights ornately displayed across the top.

 

Savory Muffins
Savory Muffins

 

The coffee menu reads like a café wall in Sydney, featuring the Australian originated flat white, which to the Aussie expat is a cup of espresso and nostalgia infamously hard to find Stateside. It’s velvety smooth, with milk and microfoam folded into a double shot of espresso so that the ratio of coffee takes over the milk and the two are blended seamlessly. C+F enlisted the help of fellow Aussie Mark Baird of Longshot Coffee to curate the caffeinated beverage menu and teach the staff the art of espresso, which they gladly and passionately pass on to curious customers.

Flat White
Flat White

The food is designed by C+F’s “food guru” and you guessed it, another Aussie, Claire Smith.

Never has a deli counter in Los Angeles looked so tantalizing, rich, and colorful. For breakfast there’s homemade granola with seasonal fruit and yogurt, or Bircher muesli with poached pears or the favorite brekky sandwich of arugula, egg, prosciutto and gruyere cheese tucked into Turkish toast, specially commissioned by C+F and delivered fresh every morning from a local baker.  Lunch is a mixture of signature dishes like the much obsessed over kale salad and a rotating menu of sandwiches, frittatas, lasagnas, fritters, salads and so on.   It’s all made to-go, but you’re more than welcome to stay if you’d like.

Though, the real joy is the signature Aussie fare that pops up now and again, whether it be a meat pie or the breakfast staple for 21 million Australian’s – Vegemite on toast. In case you’re still wondering WTF Vegemite is, I urge you to ask no questions, order it with blind faith and let the pros do the work, for when properly delivered, Vegemite is the right mix of salty, buttery goodness—not to mention a solid hangover cure.

Brekky Sandwich
Brekky Sandwich

 

Kale Salad
Kale Salad

On high rotation above the counter is a collection of homemade sweet and savory treats, like Anzac and Monte Carlo cookies, which can be found in every house and office pantry across Australia. Mel divulges to LAC that the Monte Carlo is a favorite on the menu among expats and Angelenos alike; both seem to have an insatiable taste for the crumbly cookie filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam that pairs perfectly with a Dirty Chai.

Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo

What’s right about Coffee + Food is simply that it’s about coffee and it’s about food, both in their simplest, purest forms and without complication. It’s become a home away from home for this expat and many more, so if you’ve ever had a moment of wanderlust, a desire to know what it’s like Down Under, or simply a longing for coffee and food that gives you joy, then make Coffee + Food your next stop, it might change your life.

 

Coffee + Food

630 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7am – 3pm

(323) 962 3390

INSIDE: LA COFFEE CLUB

Okay, sure—we at LA CANVAS can tell the difference between a hand-drip from Intelligentsia and the one-dollar machine spew that we frequently guzzle out of sleepy necessity and easy convenience.  But beyond that, we can’t say we know too much about the mysterious roasted beans, even though they sort of power this whole operation.

Luckily, our expert friends over at LA Coffee Club, a new subscription service delivering fresh, locally roasted beans straight to your doorstep, have facilitated an intervention. Covering everything from roasting to brewing methods and the importance of freshness, Adam Paul and Antone Hall have agreed to take us to coffee school.

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For an aspiring coffee connoisseur, what are the top three brewing methods for making the best coffee?

I think there are enough connoisseurs in the world out there already, what we need more of is people who are excited and enthusiastic about sharing their love for coffee in an approachable manner. For those looking to dive down the rabbit hole of fresh coffee, you’re gonna need to arm yourself with a few very important tools:

Start first with Fresh Beans, a Manual Brewing Device and a Burr Grinder. (You’ll probably want a scale with grams and a goose-neck kettle while you’re at it.) Coffee hits peak freshness levels within two weeks of roasting. Check the date on the bag to make sure your coffee is fresh and keep your beans in an airtight container away from moisture at room temperature.

A quality burr grinder may be the most expensive and important element of your home brewing setup, though a hand grinder can be a great cost-saving alternative and helps build strong muscles! Just make sure to steer clear of blade grinders which do two things to fight freshness: FIRST—blades result in a bunch of different grind sizes, big chunks and fine powder make sour and bitter coffee extracted at different ratios. Second—the high speed rotation of the blades creates heat and can sort of “cook” your coffee before its brewed – releasing the important gases that hold all the flavor in each bean.

Our favorite “pour-over” methods are Aeropress, Chemex and Clever (though many may be familiar with the Hario V60), these methods all let you have complete control over each variable of the brew (Grind Size, Water Temperature, Ratio of Water, Steep Time, Filter Type.)  A visit to brewmethods.com might help you visualize and learn all the different types. One of the most interesting however is the Siphon which looks like something out of Walt Whitman’s basement meth lab. It’s most often referred to as “The Coffee Bong.”

 

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What are some different attributes (taste, side effects, etc) to coffee beans roasted in various ways?

According to artisan coffee roasters, every coffee bean has a point in which it “sings” in the roasting process. Each roaster may have an individual preference as to where that exact mark is. This sweet spot is found through a process of test roasting and blind cuppings over the course of several days to see how the coffee changes over time. Specialty coffee tends to lean closer to the lighter side of roasting as opposed to dark roasted coffee which has a sort of “charred” taste. These coffee beans are roasted lighter to accentuate the individual flavor nuances inside of the bean. For example, a coffee from a particular region may carry a natural blueberry or citric quality, while others may leave a taste of chocolate or honey flavors on your tongue.  This practice of light roasting coffee was previously unheard of due to the lack of quality beans that were available. Thanks to direct trade agreements and sustainable farming practices at origin, we’ve seen better access to higher quality coffee beans and thus higher quality coffee in your cup. Climate change is the number one concern facing specialty coffee today, making sourcing quality coffee harder and harder.

What made you and Adam want to go into the subscription coffee business?

We didn’t initially intend to end up in the coffee subscription business—it sort of happened organically after collaborating with a non-profit organization to create a donation coffee product that would be used to raise awareness on the global issue of human trafficking. We partnered with a local roaster who had formed a direct trade agreement (see: better than fair-trade)  with a plantation in Papua New Guinea that allowed for all 1,000 laborers who worked on the farm to have their health care, housing and education paid for completely by charging an extra .22 cents per pound sold. The idea of a subscription was suggested to us by the roaster because of the built-in repeat customers. At the time a group of coffee lovers had began gathering at our local co-working location once a month. We dubbed this meetup the LA Coffee Club. Eventually the needs of the two projects merged, and it being the holiday season, we decided to create a program that would allow anyone the opportunity to access fresh, locally roasted coffee—from all of LA’s roasters— via a coffee of the month club. It just so happened that there were enough roasters in the city to allow us to feature one new roaster every two weeks for the whole year without repeating one during the year!

Is it just about finding supreme coffee beans, or is there a bigger picture to LA Coffee Club?

The big picture? It’s not about the best beans in the world, or really even about just coffee. It’s about helping people explore their community and the planet. It’s about bridging the gap between cultural boundaries of consumers and producers. It’s about being inspired and having an outlet for creativity & freedom of expression. Coffee is simply the catalyst that brings us all together.

Do you go through any criteria to determine which roasters fit LA Coffee Club?

Here’s the strict criteria each roaster had to meet:
1. The roasting facility has to be in Los Angeles ( or within an hour’s drive )
2. The beans have to be picked up on the day of roasting ( or within 24 hours )
3. The supply Chain must be transparent and ethical
4. The selections are all unique and accentuate each roaster’s creative packaging and diverse roasting style.

We know there are special teas used as home remedies, be honest with us, are there coffee beans out there that can help ease the common cold, hangover, etc?

Though we can’t legally make any health claims about drinking coffee, I can tell you from experience one thing. If you have never drank coffee before, prepare to have a seriously new relationship with gas and your ass. Nuff said.

How do you and Adam enjoy your coffee?

Our best tactic in doing so has been to keep the conversation about freshness. Simply shifting the conversation from something so subjective like taste preference to something relatable like a face or a date. The idea is that the first step to enhancing your coffee taste is by using beans that are fresh! Freshly roasted, freshly ground & freshly brewed. That is something anybody in coffee can agree on. The rest comes down to personal preference.That’s our “Fresh POV”: Fresh Coffee as a Creative Lifestyle that is open to All.

 

 For more information visit: lacoffeeclub.com/

Words & Interview by: Ashley Tuttle

Photos by: photo by Rios Enriquez

OPENINGS: PROJECT GALLERY + ESPRESSO

On an uncharacteristically rainy Los Angeles Saturday night, Project Gallery + Espresso opened with an inaugural show by young San Francisco-based artist Zio Zeigler.The brain child of Sarah Gough, originally from Kentucky via Miami, Project is not a coffee shop with art for sale; there are no tables or chairs and certainly no wifi. It was developed to be a gallery first with an artisan espresso bar to breach the gap between the art world and the passer by. A concept so simple you’d wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

 

 

Sarah imagined the concept while working as an event planner in various art galleries and observing the way the museum-like spaces intimidated their audiences. “Project started as a multifunctional space,” Sarah tells LAC, “I wanted it to be all about the art but there was something else added into it. It’s an art gallery that just happens to have an amazing espresso bar in it.” Rain or shine, Sarah has succeeded in creating a welcoming space; warmth is emanated through exposed brick and the barn wood bar which holds the magnificent espresso machine in the rear of the gallery. The aroma of coffee drifts out onto Cauhenga, drawing you in, while the small act of holding a coffee cup makes you dawdle around the gallery, wanting to stay, not ready to leave.

With the intention of ‘keeping the space active,’ Project is a blank canvas for book signings, charity events, film premieres and the like. The gallery has already been propositioned by a tattoo artist to showcase his talents in the front window, an idea that speaks to the breadth of possibilities the space offers.

 Zio Zegler’s work brings vibrant energy to Project’s debut, a fitting showcase of color-drenched canvases and murals that are almost deceptive in their detail. Creating an illusion of simplicity from afar, Zio’s work is incredibly intriguing, drawing you closer (coffee in hand of course) to discover intricate patterns and stories. He works both in the studio and on the street, and you can see a collision of these two worlds in each of his works. One half of Project has been blessed with an enormous mural painted straight to the wall by Zio and completed in six hours, impressive considering the elaborate complexity and sheer size of the work. It will be a bittersweet moment when “Lost Illusions”  closes and the mural is painted over, but Zio’s work is now ingrained into Hollywood forever, his murals dotting the walls along Cauhenga—a completely unplanned yet  ingenious preface to the opening of Project.

 

 

So the space is great and the art resonates, but what of the coffee? Sarah’s “Espresso Master” Toby believes Project has all the makings to be the best espresso in LA. “We have the machine, we have the talent, we have the roaster, we have every ingredient right.” The beans are sourced from a micro roaster who produced a blend specifically for the gallery, and in that vein the men behind the machine are also working on a signature ‘Bourbon Vanilla Latte’ as a throwback to Sarah’s Kentucky roots.

Project is an exciting moment for the LA art and coffee worlds alike. It is a space for all, with infinite possibilities to walk out feeling all the richer.

{ Photos by Captain Chris. }

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE OPENING HERE.