Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Postcard from LA - Intelligentsia Coffee, Venice Beach

America has always seemed to me like the land that coffee forgot, even though the yanks are big coffee drinkers.  I was always intrigued by the coffee percolators on US TV shows when I was growing up and the concept of the "bottomless cup" you got at roadside diners.  When I finally got State-side in 1991 most of the stuff I got served, in particular the "bottomless" variety, tasted like arse.  In the years since I have drunk better coffee in the US but have never managed to get a decent milky coffee - it seems that whilst America embraced the Starbucks culture whole-heartedly and actually became OK at making decent brewed coffee (those last two things were not related by the way) I still struggled to find the sort of cafes that I had come to love back in Melbourne and then more recently in London.  That was until my friend Lisa introduced me last year to Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach, CA (one of several US locations).  Firsly, if you ever get to LA, make sure you get to Abbot Kinney - it is a really cool area and there are some great places to eat (in fact I had one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten at a restaurant on Abbot Kinney called Gjelina - fried egg, harissa aoili, confit tomatoes, rocket and speck...oh yeah), drink and generally feel like a hipster.  Most importantly though fellow coffee-junkies, it is where you will find LA's best coffee at Intelligentsia.  The place itself is really cool - there is often a queue but the system seems to work well and before you know it you are presented with a pretty damn fine beverage.  I went there afgain a couple of weeks ago and when I asked the guy if he could make me a flat white (it wasn't on the menu) he not only knew exacly how to make a textbook variety (see photo above) but also name-checked Gwilym Davies (is there any coffee-corner of the world that GD has not infiltrated?) and was super chuffed when I said his latte-art was "Gwilym-worthy".  Anyway, this blog is meant to be about London so I will stop wittering on about Intelligentsia, but I do feel like it is part of my duty to ensure that wherever you guys are in the world, you can satsify your need for a primo flattie.

Intelligentsia Coffee on Urbanspoon


  1. Next time you head out that way make sure you look up Kings Road Cafe in West Hollywood. Its strong, like jet fuel, but oh so good! I always bring it back with me for those days where I miss LA.

  2. I will def check it out - thanks for the tip London Lady!

  3. Rob -

    Agreed that Intelly is an *outstanding* location, for many reasons. However, there are lots of good locations around LA - I prepared a map (similar to your, Rob) for the area. Feel free to use it and add to the info/reviews:



  4. Thanks Robert - I feel like I have falsely maligned LA. Next time I'll use your map!