Back in 2019 I tried my hand at organizing a coffee crawl for my friends, after being inspired by one I went on in Seattle. Since then, I had been waiting for another opportunity go on one... and that opportunity came!
I've made some new friends since 2019 - you've seen Mariah in many of my posts, and Laura the human sunflower in my last photo diary. Both of them agreed to join me on a coffee crawl in Downtown LA. I put together an itinerary that is entirely walkable, and of course I provided score cards. You can grab both the itinerary and score card below:
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
The sizzle of bacon, the smell of freshly toasted brioche buns, and of course the star of the show: perfectly cooked eggs, drew a line that wrapped around multiple stalls. Although Grand Central Market was fairly empty, it seems Los Angeles was waking up with Egg Slut.
We found some seating outside and enjoyed our freshly prepared breakfasts. I ordered 'the slut,' a freshly coddled egg over potato puree served with baguette slices, and Mariah ordered 'the Fairfax,' a beautiful breakfast sandwich with deliciously fluffy scrambled eggs. As we sat, we watched Grand Central Market and its surrounding streets fill with that familiar LA energy.
Stop #1: G&B Coffee / @gandbcoffee
317 S Broadway C19, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Our first stop was G&B Coffee, located on the other end of Grand Central market. On my last coffee crawl, I was fairly blown away by this spot, so I was excited to bring my friends here for the first time.
Spoiler alert: our experience was pretty terrible.
Almost none of the fun options were available anymore, and the menu is sparse. Ordering our drinks proved almost impossible, even though we were the only ones in line. Due to my nut allergy, I couldn't partake in the "Business & Pleasure," and instead went with a plain filter coffee and a fizzy hoppy tea.
My filter coffee left much to be desired. First, I'm not sure how it was brewed since it came from a carafe. In addition, the sign which normally shows the filter coffee of the day was blank. Eventually, we found a table and I took my first sip - my coffee was so hot it burned my tongue. Even as I write this post a few days later, I still feel the effects.
I encouraged my friend Laura to try the Business (single espresso) & Pleasure (single shot almond macadamia cappuccino), which unfortunately proved to be a bust. The "cappuccino" was cold and lacked foam, the espresso was just okay (and from the photo you can see how much it had separated), and we weren't sure why the fizzy hoppy tea was included. Laura's cappuccino started to separate - not sure if the milk was a little old or not. I tried her espresso and was not impressed.
The only part I enjoyed was the fizzy hoppy tea, which was like a very light, slightly sweetened beer (sans alcohol). However, this being a coffee crawl... I was not keen on scoring based on the fizzy hoppy tea.
My score: 10.6/40
On my last coffee crawl, I was insanely dehydrated and basically buzzing by the end of the crawl. This time, I made sure to lessen the amount of caffeine and add some fun detours in-between coffee shops. After our dismal experience at G&B, we made two pit stops: the first at Angel's Flight, and the next at Pitchoun!
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
For a small $2 roundtrip, you can take the historic Angel's Flight. Built in 1901, Angel's Flight is a pretty neat funicular right in the middle of Downtown LA. I love it because it looks like it belongs in a Wes Anderson movie!
545 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Next, we made our way to Pitchoun! I stopped at this bakery on my last crawl and I simply could not resist the call of fresh breads and delicate desserts.
We grabbed a table by the window and enjoyed some treats - poundcake, a baguette... and me? A mille feuille!
Stop #2: matte black coffee / @matteblackcoffee
1001 S Broadway C, Los Angeles, CA 90015
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very excited for our next stop: Matte Black Coffee. Matte Black Coffee has made its rounds on Instagram, drawing quite a crowd to its quirky, cartoon-esque interior.
Part of me expected the pretentious atmosphere often present at influencer Meccas, but that was not the case at Matte Black Coffee. The staff was very friendly and patient, and the ambience was more relaxed than I anticipated. We were also lucky to have arrived during a slow time - the shop was almost empty.
In addition to being pleasantly surprised by the laid-back vibe, I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting choices on the menu.
I chose the lavender white chocolate cold brew, which was perfectly refreshing on such a warm day. It was much better than what I had on our first stop, but it wasn't the best lavender-flavored drink I've ever had. I don't normally go for anything with white chocolate, so I think I was a little put off by the drink's sweetness. I probably would have enjoyed the drink more if it was just a lavender cold brew.
That being said, we spent a lot more time here than we had planned. Seating is limited and can be cramped for larger parties (see photos above), but we were very comfortable at this particular coffee shop.
My score: 33/40
stop #3: No Ghost bears / @noghostbears
305 E 8th St UNIT 103, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Our next stop was No Ghost Bears, an unassuming coffee shop tucked away in a picturesque urban corner. We had some difficulty finding it - for whatever reason, Google maps showed me a different location than where the actual address is. Thank goodness for street view!
I loved the aesthetic of No Ghost Bears, soft pinks, cassette tapes and illustrative decor. I found this spot to be considerably more authentically hip than the last, and I was loving it. The staff was also incredibly friendly, honest and helpful.
Since I am lactose intolerant, I have to have a milk alternative. I wanted to order the chagaccino, an antioxidant-full, caffeine-free coffee alternative made with chaga mushroom, cacao, cinnamon and monkfruit, with oat milk. However, the staff informed us they were 'out.' What they really meant, upon further explanation, was that they ran out of their choice oat milk and only had an alternative that they felt did not meet their standard. Since I could not have almond milk, they let me try the secondary oat milk brand first, before ordering my actual drink with it.
This seems really insignificant, but I appreciated their commitment to the No Ghost Bears standard, as well as their willingness to accommodate a customer.
Make sure to peep that heart-shaped straw, too! Their straws are absolutely adorable and are reusable and dishwasher-safe.
I enjoyed my chagaccino, although I wish it would have been more strongly flavored. Next time I will order the version with an espresso shot. What I had was still pleasant - it was like a cinnamon-spiced oatmilk.
One of my only complaints was that there was little seating, and all seating was outside. Thankfully we found some seating right outside of the shop and were able to soak in the wonderful urban energy in the area.
My score: 36/40
By this point, we were starting to struggle not only with the caffeine and sugar, but also with feeling full! Of course, I had to make a poor decision and take us to our next stop...
Little Damage / @little.damage
700 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Despite our bodies telling us a firm no, we just had to try the cheeky ice cream shop that is Little Damage.
I was quite underwhelmed by Little Damage. Sure, its cheeky neon and black ice cream has made the rounds on Instagram, but I found it difficult to order, since there are no actual descriptions of the flavors on the menu. The names are fun, but they are not necessarily indicative of the flavor. For instance, "Pinky" was actually vanilla, and "Monster Cake" was strawberries and cream.
In the end, I went for the Twisted Black, a coffee-flavored ice cream that is Instagram-worthy black. My cone looked great for the 'gram, and it was okay coffee ice cream. In all honesty, I couldn't finish it because I was so full but I'm glad I got to try Little Damage to see what the hype was all about.
The Last Bookstore / @lastbookstorela
453 S Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Full of coffee and ice cream, we wandered into The Last Bookstore. No matter how many times I visit, I am always enthralled by all of the books and fun surprises on the upper level.
The Last Bookstore feels like a place from another time, a whimsical world tucked away behind shelves of books. Getting lost in this particular labyrinth is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Once I snagged a new book, we were back on our coffee journey and ready for our last coffee stop. Golden hour was beginning, bathing the downtown LA skyline in a warm light.
Tilt Coffee Bar / @tiltcoffeebar
334 South Main Street Kiosk#1, Los Angeles, CA 90013
I'd been to Tilt once before on my last coffee crawl, which ended up being a great thing because by the time we arrived, we were just not ready for more coffee. I feel that when we arrived, Tilt was already at a disadvantage.
Tilt Coffee Bar is a bit peculiar in that it is located in the middle of what looks like an apartment complex. It's a small shop but for some reason I enjoy the atmosphere around it. There is quite a bit of outdoor seating, tables and benches alike.
Despite feeling a little sick (after all that coffee and sweets, can you blame me?), I ordered a sparkling citrus espresso. Essentially I ordered a citrus espresso soda. My first sip was particularly jarring and I was a little put off by the bitterness. While I anticipated a level of bitterness from the espresso, the citrus tasted like orange peel, which is pretty bitter itself.
As I nursed my drink, it became considerably more palatable. The idea of sparkling espresso is quite odd, but I ended up enjoying it.
My score: 32/40
One last bit of fun: if you visit Tilt, go down to the lower level - walk down the steps next to Tilt, walk around behind it to the left, and you will find a fun photo op!
Finally, we headed back to Grand Central Market as the sun was slipping under the horizon. Not only did we have some interesting coffee-related experiences, but we got to see so many parts of Downtown LA just by walking through it all. I loved sitting at each location and discussing our score cards, finding out who liked their drink the most, or who had a surprising favorite shop. I highly recommend doing little 'tours' like this, especially in places like Southern California!
Would you ever do a coffee crawl?
Until next time,