The one and only time I ordered decaf.

Normally I’m #deathbeforedecaf, but when you’re at the airport, see Klatch Coffee, and remember you need to sleep during the flight.. Exceptions can be made. 
Trust me, it was a semi-difficult decision. I never drink decaf. Never. I usually consider it a waste of money to pay for a coffee or latte without enjoying the benefits of the caffeine. And, as you may be able to gather by my blog’s URL, a large part of why I love coffee is the caffeine. I love Klatch, but I’ve only been able to go once since it’s pretty out of the way (I’ve only been to their location in San Dimas).  
Although my decaf iced soy latte tasted great, it really was not the same experience. However, Klatch was still a much better idea than any of the other food & beverage options in Terminal 7 at LAX. 

 

The Hype: Caffe Vita

Saturday morning I ventured out and tried a coffee shop in Los Feliz, an area I’d only been to for shows at the Greek Theater, star gazing at the observatory, and hiking in Griffith Park. Now I finally understand the hype around Caffe Vita, the Pacific Northwest chain from Seattle serving house-roasted coffee.

I knew from the moment I walked in the door that this was a good idea; the smell hit me right away, the atmosphere was hipster and relaxed, and their espresso was delicious and worth going to Los Feliz for.  

Note, coffee in the morning is always a good idea, but this place felt especially magical; a coffee lover’s paradise. I ordered a large iced almond milk latte to-go, made with their signature espresso – Caffe Del Sol. This blend is rich and complex, with aromas of dark chocolate, butterscotch and praline, and nut-forward tasting notes complimented by a sweet caramel finish. They first filled the plastic cup with ice, then approximately three quarters of the way with almond milk, topped with the deep, silky amber espresso.
Although their almond milk was from a box, rather than made in house, I still enjoyed the latte. Next time I really want to try their cold brew, which appeared to be the most popular item that morning. They also have a growler program, which is something a cold brew lover (such as myself) needs in her life.

 

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.

Tiramisu Latte with Coconut Milk

Yesterday I was told to take more risks in life.  Naturally, I took this as a challenge and decided to try out the new tiramisu latte at Starbucks.  I also tried their coconut milk for the first time.  Maybe it was the combination of coconut milk and the fact I never order sweetened drinks, but this was almost unbearably sweet for my sensitive taste buds (I think their caramel macchiato is the most sugary-drink I can handle).

Somehow the syrups added made this taste both bitter and overly sweet, with a slight artificial-flavoring taste.  I can see why the product development team at Starbucks felt like the tiramisu latte would work well with the brand offering, as tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian dessert and Shultz was inspired in Italy for the cafes.  I’d recommend this beverage to the Starbucks lovers who usually go for the Frappuccino and other sweeter beverages.

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