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Two women with coffee mugs behind the counter of a coffee shop
Shanita Nicholas, left, and Amanda-Jane Thomas, opened their first Sip & Sonder coffee shop in 2019 in downtown Inglewood and have expanded to multiple locations.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

A community-led renaissance is brewing at Black-owned coffee shops

When Watts Coffee House first opened in 1997, it was the only Black-owned coffee shop in L.A. Today there are more than 20 across L.A. and Orange counties. According to coffee expert LaNisa Williams of Barista Life L.A., this sudden growth is no coincidence.

“They’re creating these spaces so that we feel safe,” she said. “We need these spaces for us to be able to express ourselves in our own communities. ... We are empowering ourselves through ownership and breaking generational curses, showing what happens when we take pride in our Black history.”

The best brews from L.A.’s Black-owned coffee shops include drinks that celebrate Black culture, like lattes named after Cardi B, Barry White and Slauson Avenue.

Williams started #BlackInBrew in June 2020 to raise awareness of Black coffee professionals and build community in the wake of the George Floyd protests. Today she consults and provides education and training for many of L.A.’s coffee shops, with an emphasis on uplifting those who have not historically been represented in the industry.

“[These] are not just coffee shops,” Williams said. “These are spaces where amazing things happen. We’re giving back to the community through coffee shops.”


Compton local Geoffrey Martinez of Patria Coffee Roasters sought to center the surrounding BIPOC-majority neighborhood when opening his specialty coffee shop in 2018. A sign near the register reads: “Patria Coffee is a space intended for Communities of Color to share a safe place, free of criminalization and punitive treatment, that is relational and not simply transactional. We aim to uplift the beauty and richness of our cultural identity while offering a dignified coffee experience and quality, respectful of the existing Compton community structure and understandings.”

Given that coffee is historically grown by Black, brown and Indigenous people, Williams said there’s an element of reclamation at many Black-owned coffee shops, with an intention of using that foundation to move the industry forward.

Jonathan Kinnard, founder of Coffee Del Mundo in South L.A., places a heavy emphasis on coffee origin education. “We want you to be very aware that coffee is not a European thing. It’s an Ethiopian thing. It’s a Colombian thing. It’s a Guatemalan thing. We take a lot of pride in that, and we need to honor that if you understand the difficulty of labor that goes into these things.”

Find the best cafes, freshest brews and your favorite beans in the coffee-shop capital of the world.

“I hope that we continue in this positive direction of inclusivity [and] making sure everyone is seen and heard,” Williams said. “It’s a trillion-dollar industry — there should be no reason why Black people only have 1% of this. This is a way of expressing ourselves and bringing our culture to the forefront.”


Presented in no specific order, here are 20 Black-owned coffee shops to support across L.A.

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Exterior of Watts Coffee House
(Astrid Kayembe)

Watts Coffee House

Watts Breakfast/Lunch
L.A.’s oldest Black-owned coffee shop doubles as a full-service diner, though an order of coffee still guarantees you free refills as long as you’re at your table — a true coffeehouse relic. The breakfast and lunch menu features scratch-made dishes like bone-in country ham steak with fried apples. Chef and owner Desiree Edwards makes all items fresh upon receiving your order, so be patient and take in the neighborhood history that’s mounted on the walls. You’ll spy a banner celebrating the Lakers’ 2001 NBA championship victory, framed concert posters from iconic Forum shows and signed headshots of celebrity clientele like Samuel L. Jackson and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
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Two women work behind the counter of a coffee shop.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Sip & Sonder

Inglewood Coffee Pastries
Opened in April 2019 in a vast space that peers out on a spirited Market Street in downtown Inglewood, Sip & Sonder was forced to shut down less than a year later due to the pandemic. Owners Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas successfully pivoted to in-house roasting, and today they serve Sip & Sonder coffee at three locations, including a kiosk outside of the downtown Music Center and in the Macy’s at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks. They’ve released five roasts to date, including a single-origin medium roast from Peru and a medium-dark roast blend from South America, East Africa and Oceania. Taste them in house brews like the Cardi Rose latte with cardamom and rose. They also offer pastries from Sugarbloom Bakery, including a matcha doughnut and savory croissants.
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Entrance to Silverback Coffee, inside a glass building lobby
(Astrid Kayembe)

Silverback Coffee

Downtown L.A. Coffee
Sensing trouble on the horizon, Jack Karuletwa’s parents moved their family out of Rwanda years before the Rwandan genocide. In January 2023, Karuletwa opened Silverback Coffee in the Financial District of downtown L.A. with a mission to help rebuild Rwanda, the land of the silverback gorillas. A percentage of revenue from the shop is donated to organizations that build schools and provide services to those who were widowed or orphaned as a result of the genocide. Karuletwa also has partnered with the Rwandan government to ensure the protection of the native silverback gorilla.

Here, you’ll find staple coffee drinks and a variety of beans, all grown on small farms in Rwanda and roasted sustainably in Northern California.
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Obet & Del's

Los Feliz Coffee
“100% Black-owned and 100% Asian-owned” is how founder and lifelong Thai Town resident Heather Knox and her partner, Josh Oliveros, describe their vibrant Thai Town coffee shop. Earth-toned, ’70s-style stripes line the walls, and afternoon light bounces from floor-to-ceiling windows across exposed brick, painted tiles and light wood booth benches. Named after Oliveros’ parents (Robert and Delia), the two owners honor the city they love with drinks like a Thai Town latte and a Thai tea with star anise and cardamom. They also preserved the signage from previous tenant Thai Town Marketplace; beneath it they sell locally made items from BIPOC creators, including zines, trinkets, teas and more.
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An orange wall with a colorful painting inside a cozy-looking coffee shop
(Astrid Kayembe)

Hot and Cool Cafe/Crenshaw Coffee Co.

Leimert Park Coffee Vegan
After just five years on the Leimert Park strip, Hot and Cool Cafe has become an undeniable staple in the community, selling house-roasted Crenshaw Coffee Co. beans and providing a colorful performance space. Owner and roaster Tony Jolly said he’s ready to take the next step and branch out into a cozy specialty coffee shop, bookstore and roasting facility. With the rebrand, he’s hoping to keep the core tenets of the community he built under Hot and Cool — tasty drinks, gathering space, vegan dishes and cool merchandise — and elevate it. The store will embody Jolly’s vision of bringing a premium coffee experience to South L.A. as an extension of the Crenshaw Coffee Co. brand.
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A person holds two black cups of cappuccino with decorated foam on saucers.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Patria Coffee Roasters

Compton Coffee
Patria Coffee Roasters is a homey haven with all the classics at an affordable price. Patria, which means homeland in Spanish, honors owner Geoffrey Martinez’s Guatemalan heritage and the places in which coffee is grown. The shop sources beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Uganda, and roasts in Compton near the coffee shop. Try the café de olla or dip one of the delicious chocolate chip cookies in an Ibarra Mexican mocha for the coziest combination.

The shop features art that highlights the diversity and legacy of resistance in Compton, hosts community events, sells items from local artisans and has partnered with the Free Black Women’s Library as a place where people can donate and borrow radical texts. Located across from Renaissance Plaza and the Compton Towne Center and right next to Wilson Skatepark, it’s the perfect place to stop for energy to start your day.
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A man in glasses and a brown apron stands in a coffee shop
(Terell Johnson / LaCreate Space)

Coffee Del Mundo

Vermont Knolls Coffee Vegan
Jonathan Kinnard opened Coffee Del Mundo in 2019 to combine his love of travel and community. Take a trip to Nicaragua with the sweet Cacao Blanco or to Vietnam with the award-winning Cafe Da, a cold-brew coffee with vanilla and condensed coconut milk. On the walls, flags from Argentina, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Kinnard’s native Belize offer pops of color that reflect the rich ethnic diversity in South L.A. Kinnard hopes to use the shop to educate people on the origins of coffee and precolonial dairy-free diets.
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Bicycles and benches outside Super Domestic Coffee on Culver Boulevard
(Dave Maziarz)

Super Domestic Coffee

Culver City Coffee Breakfast/Brunch
Culver City native Brandon Jackson grew up working in his grandfather’s coffee shop and always knew he wanted to open a cafe of his own. In 2018, he and his wife, Kelly Jackson, opened the first Super Domestic in downtown Culver City. With “coffee and community” as the shop’s driving ethos, Jackson makes a point to support local causes. Part of the proceeds from a drink called Scouts Honor, embellished with cinnamon Teddy Grahams, is donated to Culver City Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. Both Super Domestic locations (a second is in the Culver City Arts District at 8545 Washington Blvd.) operate as cycle shops, featuring house-roasted beans, hats, mugs, riding gloves and more. Jackson and his wife also own a surf-centered coffee shop in Culver City called Mañana Coffee.
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Coffee in a paper cup marked Hilltop next to a Styrofoam container of beignets
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen

Inglewood Coffee Breakfast/Brunch
Co-owners Yonnie Hagos, Ajay Relan and Issa Rae teamed up to create Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, a place for dreamers and doers to find “creativity, community and connections.”

From the straight-up Slauson Drip to the complex Matcha Chata, Hilltop has an extensive drink and food menu to give you fuel to climb that hill and reach your goals. At any Hilltop (there are also locations in View Park-Windsor Hills, Eagle Rock and downtown L.A.), you’ll find people in business meetings and interviews and students giving virtual presentations, making it a prime destination for remote workers. Soon, patrons will be able to get their favorite Hilltop items at LAX Terminal 7.
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Interior of Bloom & Plume Coffee
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Bloom & Plume Coffee

Historic Filipinotown Coffee Pastries Breakfast/Brunch
Looking to bring the luxury experience of his floral design business to Historic Filipinotown, Maurice Harris opened this cafe adjacent to his flower shop to deliver a small indulgence: good coffee and good conversation. A neon sign, violet walls and floral arrangements brighten the space and encourage creative flow. Just a short trip from Echo Park Lake and the Echo Park Tennis Courts, you’ll find a house-made mocha, vanilla latte or refreshing honey lavender lemonade.
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Cafe Ruisseau's bags of whole coffee beans in Illmatic and Love Jones varieties
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Cafe Ruisseau

Santa Monica Coffee
Named after owner Edward Ackah-Miezah’s first daughter, Cafe Ruisseau opened in 2016 in a partially covered cabana in burgeoning Playa Vista. The Santa Monica location came a year later, with a gallery featuring local artists, a selection of potted plants and bright yellow umbrellas with scalloped fringes. Sitting as an island in the center of the coffee shop is a selection of Cafe Ruisseau roasts, all named after iconic Black albums, movies and celebrated figures. In honor of beloved Lakers player Kobe Bryant, the Mamba is a medium roast sourced from Ethiopia and Colombia with notes of apricot, blackberry jam and chocolate. The coffee menu spans classic drinks as well as options like a golden milk latte with turmeric, with alternative milks available at no extra cost.
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A hand-painted bag of whole coffee beans from L.A. Grind
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Grind Coffee & Tea Bar

Mid-City Coffee Teahouse
In 2018, the arrests of two Black men who were waiting for a business associate at a Starbucks in Philadelphia sparked Vanessa Punche into action. Refusing to support the corporate coffee chain any longer, she bought a truck and turned it into her own mobile coffee operation, tapping a local roaster and sourcing single-origin beans from Cameroon. L.A. Grind quickly grew a following, which allowed Punche to open her two-story space at the corner of Redondo and Pico in Mid-City. The coffee shop is a vibrant reflection of Black culture in L.A., with art that includes a tiled piece that depicts the Slauson Avenue street sign and portraits of homegrown artists like late rapper Nipsey Hussle. Upstairs is Thick & Well Apothecary, where you can browse handcrafted incense, herbal blends and body care items, with yoga classes held on Sunday mornings. L.A. Grind hosts a slew of events, including cooking classes and intimate concerts.
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A smiling woman holds a cup in front of a plant wall with neon spelling out "Coffee and Plants"
(Coffee and Plants)

Coffee and Plants

Pasadena Coffee Vegan
After learning how unsustainable the coffee industry can be, singer and philanthropist Leona Lewis and business partners Dennis Jauch (who’s also her husband) and Achraf “AC” Sekhiri opened a plant-based coffee shop at Old Town Pasadena’s buzzy One Colorado. Coffee and Plants is Lewis’ venture into environmental advocacy through the medium of coffee.

Live plants and flowers adorn the pink shop walls, and succulents are available for purchase. On the menu, you’ll find the Rose Bowl latte, a floral nod to the neighborhood. Rose-hibiscus, lavender and vanilla syrups are made fresh in-house with minimal ingredients, in line with Lewis’ promise to not serve anything she wouldn’t consume herself. For every 100 cups of coffee sold, Coffee and Plants plants a tree in partnership with the National Forest Foundation.
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Three coffee drinks with labels featuring a silhouetted head
(Astrid Kayembe)

Undergrind Cafe

Beverlywood Coffee Breakfast/Brunch
Livening up a stretch of Robertson Boulevard near Hamilton High School is this coffee shop that husband and wife Ron and Rachel Sazon opened in 2015 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. The cafe embraces post-third-wave coffee culture with an array of flavored lattes, along with a full menu of breakfast items. There are classic coffee drinks for the purists, as well as an “I Dream of Lattes” menu with innovative creations like a Tiger Island latte with chocolate, coconut and chai. Pair your drink selections with dressed-up bagels, burritos, biscuits or shrimp and grits, then take it all to-go or park it in the cozy, sunny interior or on the umbrella-dotted sidewalk patio. Around the corner, the couple also owns Undergrind Raw, a smoothie and pressed-juice cafe.
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Lou, the French on the Block

Burbank Coffee Pastries Sub / Sandwich Shop
Former French basketball player Laurent “Lou” Correa is truly the man on the block. Each weekend, patrons enthusiastically line up on Riverside Drive for coffee and pastries. Correa opened the shop in 2016, intending to bring a casual French cafe experience to L.A. with flaky croissants, baguette sandwiches and classic espresso drinks. French-style sidewalk seating is an ideal place to people-watch, converse with friends or decompress after the week.
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A Dirty Rose Girl (rose latte) in a clear plastic cup with a lid
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Flowerboy Project

Venice Coffee
This coffee and gift shop appears like an oasis on busy Lincoln Boulevard, with a smattering of sidewalk tables and a spacious interior. Run by head gardener and creative director Sean Knibb, along with flower and visual director Stella Shirinda, the neighborhood bodega invites customers to choose their own adventure with a selection of fresh and dried flowers that can be bundled into a bouquet or purchased as single stems; curated items like journals, candles and even a stylish Flowerboy apparel line; and a coffee shop that’s housed in the far corner of the space, with a simple menu of coffeehouse staples, plus a few original drinks like the Dirty Rose Girl (rose latte) and Lavender Boy (lavender latte).
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Interior of Harun Coffee with white metal tables and chairs and a photo mural filling a wall
(Astrid Kayembe)

Harun Coffee

Leimert Park Coffee
Harun’s minimalist space draws customers who come to collaborate and enjoy views of historic Leimert Park Plaza through panel windows in the open seating space. The coffee shop displays Black artwork, sells clothing from Harun International lifestyle brand and hosts regular community events, exemplifying the “It takes a village” mentality. Opened by music executive and South L.A. native Chace “Chace Infinite” Johnson in 2018, Harun serves coffee beverages as well as smoothies and vegan pastries with names like Unity, Superpower and Vital. You’ll also find espresso beans for sale, sourced from the Sidamo region of Ethiopia.
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Bohemian House of Espresso & Chai storefornt.
(Astrid Kayembe / Los Angeles Times)

Bohemian House of Espresso + Chai

Downtown L.A. Coffee Teahouse
Farah A. Hagar opened his cafe in 2019 to help people find community in the bustle of downtown L.A. The shop is an eclectic escape with vintage decor: a penny-farthing bicycle, plants, 1960s-style televisions and mismatched furniture. Bohemian uses single-origin beans from Ethiopia, and the signature menu item is the camel milk cortado, which utilizes the low-lactose, nutty and mildly salty milk of camels. Hoping to bring the depth of flavors native to his Somalian homeland, Hagar offers non-espresso lattes includingmint matcha, house-brewed chai and a coffee alternative with ground date seeds.
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Tribute Coffee House

Garden Grove Coffee Breakfast/Lunch
Husband and wife Udy and Ehiy Ikpa opened their coffee shop next to a gas station in Garden Grove in 2017, quickly attracting a customer base of commuting locals and Disneyland tourists. There’s an attached drive-thru to quickly deliver your coffee and food orders. Should you decide to settle in for a while, you’ll find a welcoming space with friendly staff and comfortable, worn-in furniture, plus standard coffee drinks, blended coffees, smoothies, scones and croissants, açai bowls, sandwiches, crepes, salads, soup and waffles. Tribute also offers seasonal items, like red velvet drinks, cupcakes and heart-shaped macarons through the end of February.
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Sausage, egg and cheese sandwich with a Lazy Rose latte.
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Lazy Rose Cafe

Mid-Wilshire Coffee Breakfast Pastries
Three L.A. natives opened this corner cafe as an invigorating refuge on a typically clogged stretch of La Brea in Mid-City. Winding floral patterns seem to guide customers through the two-story space. The shop is open every day except Sunday, when the owners take a self-appointed “lazy day.” Pause and savor beverages like a Lazy latte, smartly dressed with lavender and honey. The shop also sells ethically sourced coffee that’s roasted locally, available as whole beans, single pour-over packs and in Keurig-compatible compostable cups, along with a selection of handmade items from local artisans. To celebrate its one-year anniversary and Black History Month, Lazy Rose is offering all of its beverages for $5 for the month of February.
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