Hi, my name is Lorelai Gilmore, and I am addicted to coffeecoffeecoffee.
OK, maybe I’m not actually Lorelai, but I’m probably as close as you’ll find to her in real life, save for that having a kid at 16 part. I talk too fast, too much, ask too many questions (seriously, what did happen to all the anvils?), and I am always highly caffeinated.
Lorelai Gilmore and espresso-filled Tina Belcher are my spirit animals.
Thus, there is nary a coffee shop in Los Angeles proper that I haven’t stepped foot in, including the godforsaken Starbucks and my beloved, thank-God-they’re-finally-in-California Dunkin’ Donuts.
I know that like me, you already know where the hipster shops are. If not, just Yelp “hipster coffee.” Alternatively, you can drive down Sunset Boulevard and look for any shop painted stark white with furniture that looks like a fancy Ikea. Both are easy options, but you don’t need my help for that! Plus, they’re not exactly all ridiculously delightful.
See, I’ve made it my quest to find coffee shops that are cute or comfortable or cute and comfortable, or at the very least, have some quirky and creative cold brew flavor that is so enjoyable it makes the vanilla decor worth staring at, and you can now take advantage of what my quickly depleting bank account has wrought. Plenty of these are still third wave joints that serve $6 single-origin brew, but these should have at least 10% fewer “screenwriters” perusing their “scripts,” or whatever it is people do at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday in Los Angeles. (Yes, I’ve been one of those people. Don’t judge me.) These are worth your time:
1. Civil Coffee
Civil is my favorite coffee spot in Highland Park. This is either because of or ignoring the fact that they don’t have wifi. If you can tear yourself away from the Internet (or you love your wifi hotspot so much it’s like another limb), please do, because Civil has some of the best coffee in the city, and definitely one of the least fussy cold brews. When I’m going for something a little fancier, I opt for their mocha, which is made with a homemade chocolate ganache that puts other mochas to shame.
On top of that, the baristas are top notch and super friendly, but not in that Trader Joe’s way that we all secretly know we hate. The slate blue walls and tiled floor make it feel like the place has been a neighborhood joint for decades, though the price and minimalist furniture give it a way as a newer addition. Roomforty provides the tasty eats, which include avocado toast and a capressa sandwich, amongst other yummy lunch fare and pastries. As their sign out front says, it IS a good day to be Civil.
Civil Coffee, 5629 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park
2. Alcove Cafe + Bar
I am a little biased here, because I can walk to Alcove, but both the interior and exterior are the perfect places to get some work done or just read, namely because they too do not have wifi. The exterior is lovingly shaded by trees, and the inside still retains the feel of the original bungalow it once was, with Alcove and its cocktail sister, Big Bar, separated into two distinct spaces. If you go at an off hour like, say, 3 p.m., you can ignore the many obnoxious people having work meetings over overpriced entrees (it is more of a restaurant than a coffee shop) and head straight to the back left side of the patio. There you will find two unfinished Adirondack chairs that still need a quick swipe of sandpaper. I have read books for hours in those chairs, because not only are they hidden, the nice employees behind the counter refill coffee for free. This is my favorite hidden gem, but I am revealing this tucked away corner just for you. You. Are. Welcome.
Alcove, 1929 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz
3. TOMS Flagship
I get that a shoe store seems like an odd choice, but hear me out. Toms’ Venice outpost is also a coffee shop — a legit one — and while the back patio is typically crowded with laptop vigilantes or shoppers figuring out which pastel canvas should get clung to their feet, it is really nice to be sitting outside on padded benches and wicker chairs while still shaded from the sun. It’s the perfect way to be productive and still feel like you’re taking advantage of the Southern California weather.
The wifi is free and strong, there are two outdoor areas to choose from, and no one is annoyed if you sit there all day in your flip flops. It’s like if your weird uncle moved to Venice and opened up his backyard to all your friends (I mean this in the least creepy way). I have a penchant for the lavender latte and vanilla coriander latte, and you can rarely go wrong with one of their rotating seasonal flavors.
Toms, 1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice
TeaPop may seem like an outlier on this list because their milk teas are the standouts (you want the black & white — trust me), but luckily you can get many of these scrumptious sips combined with coffee options. I, in fact, always get the Noddy Toddy, which is cold brew and milk tea, and they’ve also got solid numbers in their Coconut Cold Brew, Horch-offee, and Iced Vietnamese Coffee. There are plenty of family-style tables to sit at, plus they have a massive outdoor space in the back that is so cozy, you could take a nap despite the caffeine you just consumed. The best part is their dedication to the arts: the store doubles as a gallery space, and they frequently host events like songwriters’ nights and craft fairs.
TeaPop, 5050 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood
5. Republic of Pie
I used to spend a lot of time in NoHo, and if I needed to kill time before meeting friends or really hunker down and get some work done, Republic of Pie was where you could find me. The shop is the closest vibe I’ve found to a college town haunt, with comfy couches, big tables for groups, and Christmas lights hugging a tree nicknamed Groot (in the middle of the joint, no less). They’ve got a stage set up for singers and bands, because we all know that live tunes are truly the best way to listen to coffee shop music, and there’s enough wifi to get you through a couple of hours, unless it’s crazy busy, in which case just give up on the Internet. Despite how much good people watching and evesdropping there is to be done (there are a lot of acting schools on the same block), I’ve always managed to focus here, which is impressive because they used to make a homemade oreo cookie that put me in the best kind of sugar coma.
While there are plenty of seasonal coffee flavors and, of course, plenty of pie, I’m a sucker for the Nutella Latte. It’s just made with hazelnut milk, but I could care less because it says Nutella and kind of sort of tastes like it, but with way less calories. It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours, especially if you’re stuck in the Valley.
Republic of Pie, 11118 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood
6. Beau Bar Coffee + Tea
There is a tiny town about two hours north of San Francisco called Hopland. The 101 cuts right through it, and one of the five shops there is STEEP Organic Coffee and Tea. Like every other coffee shop currently in existence, it has white walls, but it also gives off total earth mama vibes. As the name implies, everything is organic, large crystals are strategically placed around the shop, and plants hang from the ceiling and off nearly every shelf. I’ve only been once, but I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Beau Bar is the closest I’ve found to STEEP, the equivalent of a caffeinated warm hug.
Sure, the tables along the right wall are just ordinary tables, but the hanging birdcage seat and woodsy furniture are much cozier than any of us living in a desert climate probably deserve, and the geometric lights and funky rug only add to the eclectic vibe. Beau is also open ’til 11 p.m., which despite the amount of screenwriters in this town, is a small miracle because very few (good) coffee shops are open late in L.A. proper, a fact that will never stop astounding me.
Beau Bar, 3300 W. 6th St., Ste. 4, Koreatown
7. H Coffee House
I am all in for H Coffee House for two reasons: easy, fast wifi, and a tiny outdoor patio with just enough room for your laptop and a cup of coffee. It’s almost always packed out there and you will probably elbow your neighbor while trying to sit down, but that neighbor will almost always watch your computer when you have to pee, so that’s nice. It’s also a great people viewing spot, and it’s always a fun to play the game, “How many screeching cars will I hear on speed up Hillhurst today?” Look, I do work when I’m there — I haven’t come up with a better name for the game yet.
Best yet, it shares a home with Home, so you can munch on carb-heavy snack fair at H, or you can scoot your butt over 20 feet and eat a solid meal that’s full of waffle fries. If you are here to work on that screenplay, just be sure your laptop is fully charged, because there are no plugs outside. This is actually totally fine, though, because once your done, it will probably be happy hour, and Spitz is right across the street, where there is a solid trio of wifi, plugs, and beer. It’s a pretty good two-fer.
H, 1750 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz
8. Dinosaur Coffee
You’re here for the fringe wall surrounding the neon sign that says “things will be fine,” though you’re confused as to why there aren’t a few more kitschy dinosaurs around. It’s because you’re in Silver Lake, and that would be too on the nose. We have more coffee shops than we need in Silver Lake and Los Feliz, but this is one of the best, with consistently good Four Barrels brewing and baristas who don’t look at you like you’re not cool enough to be walking into this minimalist shop, though the patrons outside will totally stare you down to make up for this.
This is not one of the homier places on my list, but it does gave that sweet grammable wall and plenty of seating. As for what you’re sipping, the Coconut Cacao Cold Brew is a steep $6, but it’s my favorite drink on the menu, and the Cortado is also top notch. The dinos know what they’re doing.
Dinosaur, 4334 W Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake
9. Go Get ‘Em Tiger
GGET is not last in my heart, so don’t judge its placement on this list. It has, in fact, the best brew in town stirred up by baristas who know more than you could ever dream of about coffee beans. Their signature Almond Macadamia Latte is tres pricey at $6.25, but the non-dairy milk is better than it has any right to be, the same of which can be said for the latte itself and basically every other drink on the menu. The tumeric version of the latte is worth trying as well; it’s well-balanced and doesn’t taste like you’re drinking dirt, which is sadly what the version at their nearby competitor’s feels like.
I was a fan of the original Larchmont location, namely because the baristas held court at a little sampling bar and never rushed you through trying the day’s drips, but the newer Los Feliz spot has a lovely though uber sceney patio and delicious breakfast options. I’m a sucker for the yeast-raised waffle, but nearly all of my friends pounce on the avocado toast (naturally). On top of all that, the minimalist decor includes Dodgers memorabilia, cacti, and a globe. Roar into GGET immediately.