Who knew you could get an almond-macadamia-milk latte at G&B in Grand Central Market?

Epic adventures and spontaneity are perfectly complemented by stumbling upon amazing coffee shops. After hiking Runyon Canyon with the girls on Memorial Day and spontaneously deciding to go to Downtown LA for brunch, we decided to check out the famous Egg Slut in Grand Central Market. We all found something we wanted on the menu, and when we looked around to figure out where to order we spotted what looked like the front of the line, or maybe just people hanging out against a wall. We asked it they were in line, and they comforted us by telling us yes, it’s two hours long, but not to worry because it’s worth it. At first we thought they were joking, but looked around the corner to discover the line snaked through the market. As ‘worth it’ as the food may be, we’d just hiked and needed food (and coffee) ASAP. We decided to come back another day for Egg Slut and instead wander around the market for a more accessible breakfast alternative.

Although many places looked appetizing, Egg Slut was really the only adequate brunch offering. We huddled in the back of the market, amongst the tables, while Yelping to find our next destination. Curiosity got the best of me, as I had a strong feeling something worth seeing was on the other side of one of the random walls nearby. I convinced the girls to follow me and check it out, and it turned out to be a coffee shop!!

You can only imagine my excitement. I hastily made my way to the crowded counter to order my first latte of the morning, ready to experience this stumbled upon coffee shop, G&B.

I ordered an almond milk latte, only to learn their almond milk is 75% almond and 25% macadamia nut, with a little bit of dates for sweetness. I enjoyed their natural version of a sugar alternative, which added a subtle hint of sweetness. The macadamia is what really made this beverage noteworthy, as it set this latte above most in a uniquely tropical way.

The single origin espresso used was a Guatemalan called Poaquil from Forty Ninth Parallel Roasters, and it was sweet with a dried fruit aroma and tasting notes of dark stone fruit. Another interesting feature of G&B was their decision to feature multiple roasters in one space, rather than aligning with one brand.

As they’d peaked my interest, I asked one of the baristas what the G&B stood for. When I seemed surprised by his answer (Gnarly & Bad), he teased that I obviously haven’t spent enough time in Venice. It turns out that G&B actually stands for Glanville & Babinski, the founders on a mission to introduce people to the great coffees of the World. They sample from roasters all over the world and select a small percent for their coffee bar, guided solely by flavor. They made CBS’s list of Best Coffee Shops in LA, and now they’ve made my favorites list as well.

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Coffee & Tea Collective: Second location alert!

As you may or may not know, I’m a sucker for Peaberry coffees. Once I saw the Guatemala Antigua Peaberry on the Coffee & Tea Collective menu, I knew I had no choice but to order it. The barista informed me that this was one of their more chocolatey and nutty coffees, with an apple-like acidity sensation as you sip it and let it settle on your palate. I tasted notes of orange and dark chocolate, and although strong, the Guatemala Antigua hardly had any bitterness to it, even served black.

Brewed manually single cup through a V6 Drip Cone, the brewing techniques and styles at Coffee & Tea Collective are all very visual; aesthetically and aromatically pleasing. He wets the filter first for preheating and cleansing purposes, and superstitiously thinks it makes it tastes better that way. Since my coffee was made later in the afternoon, they used their lower-traffic hot-coffee method. Although this method took slightly longer, it’s perfect for anyone who has time to enjoy a cup and isn’t in a situation where they need a grab and go.

Second location alert! This East Village/Downtown spot is the second Coffee & Tea Collective in San Diego, which has only been open about a month and a half (since mid-February 2015). The space highlights the brewing methods, with easy viewing of how each beverage is prepared and served individually.

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Where My Addiction Comes From

If anyone was wondering where my caffeine addiction comes from.. This morning, around 8am, house keeping knocked on our hotel room door. Previously my mom had stated how exhausted she was, declined my offer to go swimming at one of the two beautiful pools, and even asked if I could shower first. However, when house keeping knocked on the door and I said we were still in here, checking out at 11, and didn’t need anything, my mom SPRUNG out of her bed and SPRINTED to the door, asking the house keeper for some more coffee. Regular.

I wouldn’t try the coffee, but she assured me it was better than flavored coffee, and definitively better than no coffee.

Blue Bottle Cold Brew in Downtown LA

Cold brews are necessary during LA heat waves.

I was surprised at how empty, calm, and quiet the Blue Bottle in Downtown LA on Mateo was on a Monday morning.  The bright and spacious Blue Bottle reminded me of the location in Mint Plaza, including the somewhat unfortunate fact that neither have wifi.

Blue Bottle’s single origin cold brew from Honduras, served black, was complex and refreshing, with nut-forward tasting notes and low acidity.  It had a milk chocolate body with stone fruit quality; strong and very concentrated.  As I’ve noticed with many coffees from Central America, the chocolate notes were prominent. The process for Blue Bottle’s cold brew includes a Toddy Brew, finely grinding the beans, steeping them in water for 18 hours, then draining them through a filter, and serving over ice.

One of the aesthetic highlights of ordering Blue Bottle’s cold brew is the bright-yet-simple blue logo on the side of the cup. DSC_0731

Three pours later…

Three pours later, I was able to enjoy one of the best pour over coffee blends I’ve tried yet. Farley’s East, a little cafe on Grand in Oakland near Lake Merrit, with a logo featuring the silhouette of man with a blower hat and cane (a mix between Charlie Chaplin and Planter’s Mr. Peanut). Locals pack this place for the large offering, including a range from an indulgent panini to a healthy salad, or any of their many varieties of pastries, as well as the solid coffee and friendly-yet-efficient staff. The space itself can best be described as hip, with local art on the walls and two levels of seating, with wood panels adorning the balcony, an outdoor patio lined with a slick metal enclosure with natural wood accents and seating, faux grass, and red tables, and chalkboards framed in red listing the daily specials. Another exceptional feature of Farley’s is their magazine selection: two walls full of the latest magazines, with multiple copies, free for reading in the cafe, and available for purchase if desired.

De la Paz is their roaster, and today’s featured pour over was Graceland, a blend of Honduras and Rwanda beans, roasted on February 3rd. Flavors of honey yellow peach and cocao, along with sweet and inviting coffee aromas, definitely made this blend a craveable coffee, best on it’s own (no need to add sugar or milks).

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My First Pour-Over

Single pour-over of Lovo Maracaturra from Nicaragua at Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission. Tasting notes of watermelon, cocoa, and baking spice (I was intrigued by the watermelon). Acidic (but pleasant) while maintaining flavors of watermelon and dark chocolate throughout. Poured by an Australian at the coffee bar. Consumed while watching (and smelling) the beans roast in the back. IMG_0797.JPG

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A Timeless Soy Latte

Today’s drink of choice: a Timeless soy latte made with The Tide espresso blend of Ethiopian and Colombian beans; full bodied and chocolatey with some sweet floral notes on the finish. Extremely smooth, a little nutty, and perfectly warm for this walk through the shops on Piedmont Avenue.

This was my first time visiting Timeless, the bustling coffee roaster bakery chocolate shop in Oakland, but I definitely will be returning for more espresso (and maybe even a chocolate next time!)

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