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.

 

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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Intelligentsia Perfection

The second I saw Intelligentsia as Hugo and I were walking down Colorado Street in Old Town Pasadena, I knew I had to show him the wonders and magic of their Black Cat espresso. Intelligentsia’s soy iced latte can only be described as perfection with each sip. My taste buds fell in love at first taste, and my sense of smell was ignited before even walking through the door, hit with the strong smell of freshly roasted and ground coffee beans. Their soy latte is always a safe bet for an amazing beverage, mostly because of their high quality beans. Black Cat Espresso is a syrupy sweet espresso blend that has been the staple of Intelligentsia’s lineup since the beginning; the supreme balance and wonderful sweetness made this a classic, as well as one of my favorite espressos of all time.

Since it has double the espresso of the latte, Hugo’s Angeleno was a significantly darker color with a more intense, sharp espresso smell that is sure to excite any espresso lover. The Soy Angeleno is a shaken-sweetened iced latte with four shoots of the Black Cat espresso, sweetened with simple syrup. We asked for it to be only lightly sweetened, which ended up being a good call because then the amazing taste of the espresso was not overpowered by the sweetener. I would be willing to try it with their normal amount of simple syrup, just because I know how skilled these perfectionist Baristas are at Intelligentsia.

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Gibraltar at Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle. At The Market Pier 1. The line around the corner foreshadows something special enough to be worth the wait. Apparently it’s the best in the city. Barista said soy latte will blow my mind.

This is how I somehow ended up trying my first Gibraltar in San Francisco. The Gibraltar was named after the glass, and Blue Bottle claimed they were the first specialty coffee store to have this specialty drink. It’s espresso with steamed milk in a 1:1 ratio espresso to milk that is steamed to 120 degrees. It started out as a barista drink that baristas could drink fast; supposed to be drunk in under a minute or two (hence why it’s only available to order for here). Single origin Costa Rica coffee of the Red Catuai varietal with a tart finish.

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Top Dog’s Chai

“SiD Soy”

These six letters written on my clear, perspiring plastic cup are almost as meaningful as the eight letters in I love you.  Their iced soy shot in the dark, comprised of chai and espresso, also known as a dirty soy chai, is quite literally morning-changing.  

The goods:  This is the best dirty soy chai I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Simply put.  There is a perfect balance between the Kirkland Organic Soy, ice, chai tea, and espresso.  The chai is actually a brewed chai tea (not a syrup or powder!) that is shipped over from Oregon, where they make this chai goodness in batches based off a recipe from India.  These chai people in Oregon know what they’re doing.  Additionally, the way Top Dog pours the espresso is even special, using their house blend 3-2-1, pulling the espresso in three different sections to create the perfect combination.  

The downside: This SiD was so refreshing that, and before I knew it, the entire drink was down to just the ice cubes!  Initially I accused Hugo of stealing the entire thing when I wasn’t looking, but I am pretty sure that wasn’t actually the case.  

I’m intrigued by the Mango Chai, along with multiple other Chai options, listed on their Chai menu.  Top Dog Coffee Bar, at 857 Main Street in Morro Bay, California, has an entire section of their posted hand-written menu dedicated to their ten different chai options.  Everything about this place is wonderful, ranging from the local art hung on the walls to the friendly and helpful staff to the garden patio to the burlap decor to the large windows to the wooden chairs with coffee cups carved into their backings.  Definitely trying Top Dog’s Mango Chai next.