A while back, I was trying to plan one of my trips to Seattle, and I tried to find a local coffee crawl and was successful. After plenty of googling, I stumbled across the completely underrated tour by Seattle by Foot. I've taken the tour on two separate occasions, and both times were thoroughly enjoyable, unique experiences. We walked through parts of the city that I would have never explored on my own, and the coffee samples were wonderful. The coffee options were diverse, and pushed us out of the routine of our tastebuds. After my second tour, I asked myself why this kind of tour isn't available in more places, since coffee culture has been a growing trend in many cities. Instead of waiting for answer, I decided to create my own coffee crawl, inspired by the one I'd been on.
Complete with rating cards and hand-illustrated maps, I took some friends to five different coffee shops around Downtown LA.
I created a rating card system based on attributes like beverage quality, vibe, aesthetic, hipster level, etc. I made cards for the four of us to fill out, giving each attribute a score of 1-5 coffee cups. After rating each attribute, we totaled the amount of coffee cups and gave each stop an overall rating.
Stop #1: Philz coffee
801 S. hope St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
We began our crawl at Philz on Hope street. The morning was grey and misty, but we had to begin our day with famous mint mojito iced coffee. I'd had a mint mojito iced coffee during my first visit to Philz in San Francisco, so I knew I had to introduce one of my friends to this botanical pick-me-up.
Contrary to a generic, mass-produced mint syrup you'd expect, the mint mojito iced coffee packs a punch and tickles your tastebuds with plenty of real, muddled mint. I loved its balance and unique flavor, despite my indifference when it came to the ambience and decor. Philz may not be the instagrammable spot we come to expect when we hear the term "coffee shop," but it was the perfect start to our crawl.
We sipped on our brews while filling out our rating cards - it was so interesting to sit down and objectively try to rate our experience!
Stop #1.5: Pitchoun!
545 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Any caffeine fiend knows that it's smart to get some food in your belly before knocking back that extra espresso shot. We knew we had a long, dehydrating journey ahead of us, so we made a pit stop at Pitchoun! on our way to our second stop.
I knew Pitchoun! was a French bakery, but I was completely taken aback by its unassuming charm, authentic pastries and cozy ambience. We were mesmerized by the display cases full of glorious breakfast pastries, fresh bread and enticing snacks.
We each chose our delectable French delights before taking a seat on the patio and admiring the view.
Stop #2: G&B
317 S Broadway C19, Los Angeles, CA 90013
I'd visited Grand Central Market a handful of times, overwhelmed by its seemingly unending food stalls and doing my best to avoid the crowds. I'm not partial to chaotic places, so I have to admit, I wasn't the most excited for this stop.
We arrived at stall C-19, across the street from Angel's Flight. My non-nut allergy friends were encouraged to order the Business and Pleasure (one half of a double espresso (the business) and the other half made into a single almond macadamia cappuccino, slightly sweetened, shaken and served neat in a chilled glass with a little bit of espresso dusted on top (the pleasure). served with a side of sparkling tea.), while I was limited to the One and One (Single espresso served alongside a single macchiato, with a lil gib of fizz hop), both options specialty espresso combinations. Scarred by my Starbucks employment, I do not regularly drink straight espresso, nor do I usually enjoy it. Naturally, when I received my collection of small glasses, I anticipated not enjoying the experience.
The good news is that all of my expectations were exceeded! The barista advised that we take the shots through the line, starting with the straight espresso. It was smooth, nutty, not acidic, but full of flavor. Next, we tried the sparkling tea, which was heavenly. It wasn't bitter but it wasn't sweet. Last, we had our espresso drinks. Everything was insanely smooth, and potentially the best espresso I've ever had. Service was also surprisingly great, despite the regular chaos of Grand Central Market.
Stop #3: Bradbury Cafe
300 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Right across the street from Grand Central Market, Bradbury Cafe offers the chic, minimalist space we have grown to expect with modern coffee shops. Upon entering, we were greeted with bright, open space, warm wood tones and futuristic speakers playing quiet-ish rock music. We joined the fairly long line, while keeping an eye out for a table - it was full!
Because we'd had espresso and a specialty coffee, we ordered both kinds of pour-overs available that day, the Giant Steps and Burundi. One complaint I had fairly early in our experience was with the menu - the daily pour-over options were not that obvious on the menu, and the options were not near the register, as commonly practiced in many coffee shops.
The coffee was pretty tasty, but by this point we were starting to feel a pretty strong caffeine buzz. I supplemented my caffeine intake with a flakey biscuit, but it was a bit under-done.
Overall, Bradbury Cafe (AKA Blue Bottle) was pretty "standard." It was chic, minimalist, offered a mild level of pretentious coffee options and had great ambience.
Stop #4: Tilt Coffee Bar
334 South Main Street Kiosk#1, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Nestled away in a stylish apartment complex is Tilt, a small kiosk with two pretty popular drinks: the cloud latte, and the cloud mocha. Tilt is a no-frills coffee stop with specialty bites and solid coffee options.
We enjoyed our drinks outside, as there isn't much room for seating inside. Our grey day continued, but we were pleasantly surprised by the light, airy topping that gives these drinks their names. The topping is more than just foam - it is a marshmallow-type topping that gives the drinks a wonderful creaminess. Two of us got a cloud mocha to go (no pretty layers, served hot), and two of us got the cloud latte (iced). My only complaint about the mocha was that the chocolate flavor was not intense enough for me.
Photo bonus: There are several fun photo opps in the complex, ranging from an empty parking structure-like space, to a "Greetings from Los Angeles" mural on the lower level.
Please also note there ARE restrooms available! Just ask for directions and the key.
Stop #5: Cafe Demitasse
135 San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Even though I'd only previously visited Cafe Demitasse once many years ago, I have always had fond memories of this coffee shop.The last time I went, I had their molten lavender chocolate, which is to DIE FOR. This time, I definitely wanted to give their coffee a try.
One of many specialty menu items, Demitasse offers a Kyoto iced coffee, a robust iced coffee brewed slowly over 14 hours - basically coffee sorcery. In fact, we found that Demitasse was full of gadgets and is, in fact, a mad science coffee lab.
Ignoring our body's cry for water, two of us ordered the Kyoto iced coffee, and the other two ordered one of the seasonal/specialty items on the menu, the Black Mamba: a latte with ginger and Okinawan black sugar.
My first sip of the Kyoto iced coffee punched my tastebuds - it was STRONG. Granted, this was stop #5 and we had quite the caffeine stream coursing through our veins. However, after a few sips, I acclimated to the bright brew. I stole a taste of the Black Mamba and fell in love! It made me realize just how much care Demitasse takes to create unique flavors.
Just when I thought our coffee crawl was coming to an end, my cousin's eyes grew large, reminiscent of when Abu laid eyes on the giant ruby in the Cave of Wonders, as seen in the animated classic, Aladdin. There was yet another feat of coffee sorcery happening across the room - siphon coffee. She was completely enamored with the process, and with VERY little hesitation, she rose and headed back to the register to purchase yet another cup of coffee.
We watched the steam punk-esque burner brighten, boiling the water on top like a witch's brew. The barista handled the coffee with care, before letting the siphon do its job. Before I knew it, there was an additional tray and stylish, double-walled glass at our table. I'm glad I didn't say no - this cup of siphoned Kenyan coffee was one of the smoothest, non-acidic brews I have ever tasted.
Not long after, we were feeling the effects of the caffeine and finishing up our ratings.
We sat around the table and discussed our ratings, ultimately ranking our favorites. I made sure to bring people who are passionate about coffee, so everyone jumped in and genuinely participated in the rating cards I made. It was fun to analyze, compare, and discuss! We all had very different opinions, but generally we had similar rankings. Mine were as follows:
1. Cafe Demitasse: 38/45
2. G&B: 37/45
3. Blue Bottle: 33/45
4. Tilt: 32/45
5. Philz: 27/45
If you head over to my Downloads page, you can download both the rating card and the map! This Jolenegoes Coffee Crawl is walkable one way; we didn't want to walk back 30 minutes so we took an Uber back to where we started. This coffee crawl may not have been official or as informed as the one in Seattle, but I hope some of you take this trek yourselves!
Until next time,
Happy wandering, and stay hydrated!