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A video of a person making coffee at a counter, Jack Benchakul at Endorffeine.

19 cafes that make L.A. a world-class coffee destination

What is the best place for coffee in Los Angeles? It’s the one most convenient to your home, or the one where the barista remembers your name, or the one with a calm, sunlit room that helps you disappear into your workflow. Taste in coffee — and coffee shops — is fiercely personal. I wouldn’t dare steer you away from a local haunt.

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

Feb. 23, 2023

But I do have some strong opinions about who in Los Angeles is making outstanding coffee: espressos that delight rather than burn as they go down, pour-overs that express flavors like elegantly made wines, inventive drinks that respect the essence of the brew. These are 19 of my favorites. Some are multiroaster cafes while others are run by baristas and entrepreneurs who started out making and selling coffee from the world’s most skilled roasters and then moved into roasting themselves.

A man raises a hand high to pour into a coffee glass below.
Jack Benchakul, owner of Endorffeine in L.A.’s Chinatown, pours from a distance to aerate coffee before serving it to customers.
(Oscar Mendoza / For The Times)

The emphasis here is on independent coffee bars. Anyone with a passing interest in the subject knows names like Intelligentsia, and probably California-based operators like Verve and Tierra Mia as well. I’d rather point you to some forward-thinking aces making Los Angeles a global leader for coffee culture. There isn’t much talk of food — maybe mention of a breakfast burrito here and there — though I do love exceptional tea as well and point out a few cases where the tea programs stand equal to the excellent coffee.

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Coffee in a to-go jar from Bar Nine coffee shop
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Bar Nine

Culver City Coffee
Zayde Al-Naquib recently reopened his Culver City coffee bar, which had been functioning as a roasting facility since the 2020 shutdowns. He and his team reimagined the menu for a new era: Chemex-brewed pour-overs are gone, with a focus instead on serving espresso and drip coffee made with an option of seasonal roasts in three flavor profiles (round, fruit-forward or floral). To take home, look for Al-Naquib’s bottled batch espresso, made with a method he’s patenting that circumnavigates the traditional machinery, and consider Bar Nine’s mailed subscription program for an education in coffee styles. Ten by Bar Nine, the shop’s sister cafe in Marina del Rey, provides cheddar jalapeño scones, vegetable galettes and other sweet and savory pastries.
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Bloom & Plume coffee storefront
(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)

Bloom & Plume Coffee

Historic Filipinotown Coffee Breakfast
No coffee shop exterior is more uplifting than Bloom & Plume Coffee’s very purple entrance adorned with plants cascading from its rafters. Designer Maurice Harris sets an effervescent mood worthy of his stunning floral studio next door. At the community hub in Historic Filipinotown, Harris and his brother Moses feature coffee from Black-owned businesses including Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee and a rotation of single-origin espressos from Black & White Roasters in North Carolina. Fingers crossed that the cornmeal waffle, a breakfast treat I loved in the prepandemic days, returns soon to the shop’s tight menu of pastries and sandwiches.
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Interior at Canyon Coffee
(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)

Canyon Coffee

Echo Park Coffee
When Canyon Coffee opened in August 2022 — occupying the former Counterpart Vegan space — it became an instant, always-bustling social scene. The interior is a modernist flow of concrete, light woods and white walls; customers linger at sidewalk tables from early morning to midafternoon. Owners Casey Wojtalewicz, Ally Walsh and James Klapp previously established their brand of rotating single-origin coffees through online sales and local collaborations; they feature them at the shop in traditional espresso drinks and draft options that include chocolatey cold brew and a not-too-sweet oat milk latte. Star baker Sasha Piligian makes almond-olive oil cake and other pastries that incorporate seasonal fruit. Tea drinkers: Ask for a superbly fragrant oolong from Alhambra’s Tea Habitat, arguably the best source for tea in Southern California.
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Steamed milk is poured into a drink at Cognoscenti Coffee
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Cognoscenti Coffee Bar

Culver City Coffee
Yeekai Lim helped lead the current generation of L.A. specialty coffee virtuosos when he left his career as an architect. He followed a very Angeleno arc: He waded into the coffee profession via pop-ups, most notably at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. In 2013, he opened his small, stylish first location in Culver City, which endures as one of the finest coffee stops on the Westside. In a now-common entrepreneurial leap, he moved into small-batch roasting at his loft-like location in downtown’s Fashion District. Expect consistent know-how from Lim and his team; the Cognoscenti bars are among the city’s most reliable sources for expressive pour-overs.

Other locations: 1118 San Julian St. and 868 S. Olive St., both downtown.
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Interior of Dayglow Coffee
(Roaming Lost)


Silver Lake Coffee
Owner Tohm Ifergan comes at the business of coffee from ever-expanding angles. At his Silver Lake and West Hollywood outposts, he sells an always-changing lineup of beans from some of the world’s finest roasters. Beyond espressos and filtered brews, the baristas approach coffee drinks as brainy, tightly engineered cocktails: Spices, extracts, bitters, juices and smoked fruits go into creations with names like Concrete Masterpiece and Belafonte a la Zizzou. Last year Dayglow added its own solid roasting efforts to the mix, sold through the stores or its subscription service, which caters to the tastes of both novices and obsessives.
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Behind a service counter, a man kneels to view the viscosity of espresso in a clear glass.
(Oscar Mendoza / For The Times)


Chinatown Coffee
All conversations around coffee excellence in Los Angeles eventually wind around to Endorffeine and its lone barista, Jack Benchakul, a soloist by choice who runs the small shop in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza with his cousin Ttaya Tuparangsi. Benchakul’s story is a local legend in coffee circles: He was working as a biochemist in the Bay Area when he enrolled in a San Francisco culinary school to study baking. Later, during a shift at Oakland’s Miette Patisserie, he tried a beautifully brewed cup of coffee from Blue Bottle that felt like an enlightenment moment.

After stints at serious coffee bars, including the now-closed Little Tokyo location of Cafe Demitasse, Benchakul opened Endorffeine in 2015. He differentiates his technique by drawing on his science background: He uses different water filtration “recipes” for espressos and cold brews. He‘s earned such a deserved reputation for mastery of pour-overs that he’s teaching classes on the subject. When weekend crowds descend on the shop there can be a bit of a wait, but Benchakul‘s calm, steady demeanor rarely wavers.
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A coffee milkshake in a clear plastic glass from Go Get Em Tiger
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Go Get Em Tiger

Windsor Square Coffee Breakfast/Lunch Pastries
It’s safe to refer to a local coffee company as a chain when it has nine locations: GGET’s reach extends from Highland Park to Santa Monica and includes its first venture, G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market, launched in 2013. Admired initially for their multiroaster approach, founders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski worked to secure grassroots investors and in 2018 opened a 16,000-square-foot roasting and production facility in Vernon, about three miles south of GGET’s branch in Row DTLA. Though breakfast burritos and tarragon chicken salad sandwiches are as much the focus these days as iced almond-macadamia milk lattes, the core coffee program remains strong and consistent, and the roasting endeavors keep growing ever-more persuasive. I splurged on a bag of their Caballero Gesha from Honduras and found that flavors of honeysuckle and chocolate blend better than I ever could have imagined.
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Hot water is poured over ground coffee at goodboybob.
(Sarah King)


Culver City Coffee Pastries
Named for Erich Joiner’s family Havanese, Goodboybob has two stand-alone shops with striking designs: a Santa Monica location secreted down an alley with an interior that looks plucked from a Room & Board living-room floor display, and a smaller Manhattan Beach outpost that coaxes remarkable elegance out of surfer decor. For pour-over geeks, though, the bar in Culver City’s Citizen Public Market brews the deep cuts from the company’s roasting programs. Look for specials like Gesha Village 1931, an Ethiopian varietal that delivers an uncanny overlap of floral, citrus and stone fruit notes. Each outpost makes a first-rate espresso tonic with a drop of yuzu syrup; steeps a candy-sweet Taiwanese oolong and other loose-leaf beauties from Song Tea & Ceramics in San Francisco; and serves satisfying chapati wraps rolled with an eggy array of breakfast burrito-style fillings.
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Interior of Highlight Coffee shop with wood counter and chairs
(Highlight Coffee)

Highlight Coffee

Glendale Coffee
Glendale and Pasadena have gems in these under-the-radar destinations. Owner Frank Kim managed Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo before branching off in 2016 with his first Highlight location in the historic Hotel Glendale building. Kim has the knack for the neighborhood coffeehouse vibe: light-filled spaces; friendly baristas equally adept at iced orange lattes and pour-overs using beans from top-flight Nordic roasters; and a tight selection of pastries from Sugarbloom Bakery, often including its excellent kimchi-Spam croissant. This kind of simple-seeming equation can be difficult to achieve, but Highlight makes it look easy.
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Christopher "Nicely" Abel Alameda at Hooked in Venice
(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)


Venice Coffee
Head to the back counter of Dudley Market in Venice five mornings a week to find Christopher “Nicely” Abel, one of the enduring talents of L.A.’s barista circles, making espresso drinks as fast as he can. A champion of multiple latte art competitions, he’s a remarkable multitasker who engages equally with the customer in front of him and with the chile-laced mocha he’s artfully finishing. Abel has worked at some of the best coffee shops across the metro area, and it’s inspiring to see his one-man pop-up finding its audience. Beyond superbly executed classics, ask for the cafe rico, a keeper he perfected during his years at Menotti’s down the beach. Scented with orange and cinnamon, the flavors remind me of the famously boozy cafe brûlot invented at Arnaud’s in New Orleans, though this one doesn’t need the flambéed brandy and Grand Marnier.
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Water is poured over ground coffee at Kumquat Coffee Co.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)


Highland Park Coffee
Since opening in 2018, Andres Jinhan “A.J.” Kim and Scott Sohn’s Highland Park shop has become synonymous with coffee greatness in Southern California. Their deftly edited retail mix embraces small-batch roasters from all over the world; recent notables include Cupping Room in Hong Kong and Lilo in Osaka, Japan. Kumquat’s shelves can sometimes look sparse — a testament to its fevered following. Devotees know to subscribe to the store’s restock emails and to purchase online for in-store pickup. The drinks exemplify creative restraint: Cloudy (With a Chance of Peanuts), an espresso finished with cold milk and peanut butter foam, is a modern classic. Kumquat is really a full-service caffeination station: The tea beverages reflect a similar care and balance, and the selection of bean-to-bar chocolates mirrors the less-is-more philosophy. The breakfast burrito — a compact egg, cheese and potato parcel (sausage or bacon optional) perfumed with garlic confit — is among my favorites in the city.
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A busy morning at Loquat in Cypress Park,
(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)


Cypress Park Coffee
Pour-over aficionados might head to Kumquat’s newer sister shop, Loquat, in Cypress Park, where baristas brew coffee in Hario V60s and construct more elaborate creations laced with things like mascarpone foam and coconut cream. Loquat also highlights Kim and Sohn’s forays into roasting.
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A woman wearing a wide-brim hat holds a paper cup of coffee at Laidrey
(Cara Harman)


Tarzana Coffee
Gacia Tachejian left her career as a social worker and behavioral research scientist to vault into the coffee profession after years of experimenting with home roasting. In June 2021, she began by setting up a coffee cart in her hometown, Tarzana. With entrepreneurial couple Marisa and Paul Briones, she opened Tarzana’s first roastery as part of a handsome new coffee shop six months later. Red velvet lattes and peppermint mochas are popular; I’m here for the butterscotch notes in pour-overs of Tachejian’s Costa Rican roast. Gasolina Cafe in Woodland Hills serves Laidrey’s espresso, and the trio have plans to open a second location in Encino by summer.
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A latte with a foamy design sits beside a sweet croissant at Mandarin Coffee Stand
(Stephanie Brejio / Los Angeles Times)

Mandarin Coffee Stand

Pasadena Coffee
Sherry Gao opened her small shop in Pasadena’s Burlington Arcade — a fanciful slice of Regency architecture modeled after 19th century-era shopping arcades — in October, quickly magnetizing coffee connoisseurs with her finely tuned lineup. She works closely with Quebec-based Rabbit Hole Roasters, brewing with its coffees from China’s Yunnan region as they’re seasonally available. Her signature drinks are master classes in disciplined imagination: Homemade pineapple jam adds unique sweetness to an espresso tonic without taking over, and the Toasty, a milky mix of espresso and rooibos that riffs on Hong Kong’s beloved yuenyeung, is one of the region’s most inspired coffee and tea pairings. Look for occasional pop-ups featuring baked goods from accomplished pastry chef Fuyuko Kondo.
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Two clear glasses hold coffee drinks, one with a creamy top, from Maru
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Maru Coffee

Los Feliz Coffee
Without any previous design experience, Joonmo Kim and Jacob Park tackled much of the carpentry for the original Maru location in Los Feliz, building the shelves that completed the neutral, urban-sanctuary atmosphere. Maintaining such a restful air is particularly impressive given the line that usually trails down the block mornings and afternoons. Their second shop in the Arts District tends to be less crowded but offers the same reviving aesthetics. Note the chart for pour-overs that triangulates flavor profiles; I favor the Ethiopia Dumerso for its stone-fruit sweetness and lemony finish. The slow-drip cold brew is among the city’s best.
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A cardamom latte at Play Coffee in Fullerton
(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)

Play Coffee

Fullerton Coffee
Lucky, lucky Fullerton. If Play Coffee was within walking distance of my home, I’d be camped out there several times a week. Leon Wansikehian’s 3-year-old business — a modish glassed-in bar in a space built from repurposed shipping containers, configured with several outdoor-seating nooks — spotlights some of the world’s primo roasters. Start with Manhattan Coffee Roasters, a Netherlands-based operation known for encouraging farmers to experiment with their growing methods and then amplifying the intense, honeyed flavors they yield. Also, he makes a wonderful cardamom latte. Tea bonus: Wansikehian steeps 10 or so selections from Rare Tea in London, including genmaichas, oolongs and superior English breakfast blends.
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Two women stand at an espresso machine at Sip & Sonder
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Sip & Sonder

Inglewood Coffee
Amanda-Jane Thomas and Shanita Nicholas met while practicing law before partnering in 2018 on their Inglewood coffee shop — since joined by outposts in downtown L.A. and Sherman Oaks — with an engaged community focus. Restrategizing during the COVID-19 crisis, the pair maneuvered their business from sourcing beans to roasting them. Order a cappuccino while hanging out in the spacious Inglewood flagship filled with tables and plush chairs — then take home a bag of the Native Daughter Ethiopian light roast, with its pronounced taste of chocolate-dipped strawberries, to brew as a pour-over. A forever yes to the sour cream biscuits. Thomas and Nicholas frequently host events, including Black Business Pitch Competitions held several times a year as part of Sonder Impact, their 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm.
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Thank You Coffee KSL.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Thank You Coffee

Chinatown Coffee
Matt Chung, Cody Wang and Jonathan Yang were settling into their pop-up, set up in the back of feel-good store Paper Plant Co. in Chinatown, as the pandemic started unraveling the world in March 2020. After several years of permitting pitfalls and pivots to bottled beverages and adjunct pop-ups, Thank You Coffee has reopened as a more permanent part of Paper Plant Co., and the trio opened a second, far larger location a few blocks from Anaheim’s Little Arabia district. They’ve always balanced their multiroaster philosophy — Santa Cruz-based roaster Cat & Cloud, and its jammy El Salvadoran Honey Pacamaras from producer Saul Gutierrez, is one standout — with crafty espresso drinks. You’re Welcome Latte, laced with smoky lapsang souchong and chicory bitters, has been a Chinatown staple from the beginning; the herbal-vanilla pandan blue milk, jolted with a shot of espresso, is the one to try in Anaheim.
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Two Guns Espresso

Manhattan Beach Coffee
The flat white, a combo of espresso and steamed milk crowned with a thin layer of foam for extra-velvety texture, has become commonplace on menus at L.A. coffee bars of all kinds. It’s likely a ripple effect from the rise of local Australian-style cafes and their photogenic takes on avocado toast. New Zealand natives Andrew “Stan” Stanisich and Natalie Stanisich introduced their exemplary flat whites to the South Bay in 2011. The couple swerved fully into restaurant territory at their Two Guns Kitchen outpost in El Segundo — burrata, tomato and pea shoots gild their avocado toast, and there’s a vegan version as well — but at other locations in El Segundo, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach the attention stays on coffee. If you need a caffeine thunderbolt, try a Long Black, a riff on an Americano made by pouring a double shot of espresso into a cup of hot water.
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