#throwbackthursday

Considering October 21, 2015 is now a day in the past, I felt it appropriate that I #throwbackthursday to my first experience visiting a coffee roasting facility back in 2013. (In case you didn’t see the posts on social media serving as a reminder, yesterday was the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown went to the future to save Marty’s kids in the 1989 film Back to the Future II.) 

Gary, the co-founder of Caffe Luxxe, provided a wonderful tour of their roasting facilities and training area.  While he ground the beans for my latte’s espresso, he walked me through some of the basics, explaining their methodology, history, product line, and barista program. This extremely positive experience has stayed with me and provided the foundation for my interest in quality coffee, in addition to a easy decision when I see menus that say “Serving Caffe Luxxe.”

   
    
   

Simply Presenting Beautiful Coffee

Bar Nine is tucked away on a side street in Culver City with a nondescript facade, with only the number 9 on a gate making it known you’re in the right place. You enter to see a bar and roasting facilities, and despite being a hipster warehouse, the industrial setting is comfortable and inviting.

The coffee of the day at Bar Nine is Kayu Peaberry from Murang’a, Kenya, with intense bursts of boysenberry and passion fruit, and nuanced sweetness. Seeing as how peaberry is my weakness, being my preferred choice for black coffee, I was thrilled to find it also makes a wonderfully smooth cold brew. When mixed with their hazelnut milk, made in house daily, the cold brew picks up a strong caramel color. The hazelnut milk provides the perfect balancing act, with a hint of nuttiness playing off the sweet fruit flavors of the peaberry.  

Bar Nine’s coffee program is unique in that it only has one coffee available per day, which can be served any way you can think of, ranging from espresso to drip coffee. They have three coffees in rotation on the menu, with each week owning one of these varieties. They roast all of their beans in house (if you don’t believe them simply based off the large area of beans in burlap bags, I can vouch for them; I was there during a roasting session). Post-roasting, they like to let their beans sit/rest for a day and a half before having them hop over to the bar. And as if all of that wasn’t enough reason to make this a must-stop coffee shop, they even let you keep the glass jar!   

  
   

Ladurée – go for the macaroons

Although the Ladurée at Harrods in London is adorable, I did not love their caffe latte quite as much since it tasted more of soya than espresso, which was so faint you almost couldn’t taste it. It also was too hot for a latte. The macaroons were so delicious that we ordered seconds, which is unusual for me since I hardly ever eat sweets. I strongly recommend their coconut macaroon, which dare I say it was better than the macaroons at Botegga Louie in downtown Los Angeles. The decor of this cafe is similar to that of Bottega, with the white marble floors, high ceilings, glass cases, and macaroon tree displays. The cups are also quite quaint and match with the overall feel of Ladurée, while reminding me of the teacups ride in Fantasy Land at Disneyland. They even had silver jugs for the milk, with small napkins made for the handle to keep you from burning your hands, which was both thoughtful and visual appealing.
   
   

Large Soya Latte

Minkies for a large soya latte and two cappuccinos, please!

The soy milk, known as soya in the UK, tastes much better here than it does in the states. We picked up o ur caffeine for today in the Kilburn Underground Station to help get us ready for the festivities at the Notting Hill Carnival. Katherine and Daniel finally let me treat, which they much deserved in exchange for letting me stay at their flat in London for this week. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful best friend with an award winning fiancé! I’m also thrilled there is a coffee shop so conveniently located, as we’ll pass it every time we take the Tube! My large soya latte was £2.30, which seems cheap but must be converted from pounds to US dollars. The only downside I see as of now is that it wasn’t open when we returned.   

  

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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