"Welcome to the neighborhood!" At least, that’s what I should have said the first time I walked into the newest coffee shop, named Neighborhood. Note: This shop is open as of 4/5/20 with limited hours/curbside pick up only, so check their site and Instagram for any updates.
A quaint and narrow shop boasting Millennial Pink walls, communal tables and carrara marble, Neighborhood is a welcome addition to the La Brea area. I’ll note early on that it’s NOT a coffee shop to work in since they don’t have WiFi. But, if you’re looking to meet some new people, muse about your screenplay, pontificate about the sustainability of almond milk or ask for directions to a Kanye pop-up (to the parachute pants inquiring: it was probably on Fairfax…) - then you’ve come to the right place! (...)
This Bluestone Lane is one of the most picturesque chain coffee shops I've ever seen. One of 50+ shops globally, this particular Beverly Grove location doubles as a flower shop.
They describe themselves as an Australian-inspired coffee shop/cafe (and "lifestyle brand"), preaching quality products and expert baristas. I've always had friendly service, but not always the most knowledgeable baristas. Consistency lacks in the drinks, too. The first time I came to this location, I was blown away by their cold brew! The second time.. not so much. The coffee on tap was a standard-sounding medium roast, but a latte here is a safe choice. All the coffee is their own and they have a big menu, so I admit I have a lot more to try before I pass on being a returning customer.
The gorgeous interior is worth a visit, alone. Succulents and Edison bulbs dangle from the ceiling, painted flowers dawn the walls and bright teal tile contrasting with rich wood and charcoal gray features are just some of the atmospheric pleasures. There's plenty of seating - indoor and an outdoor patio with string lights and umbrellas. And unique to such a Instagram-friendly spot: comfortable seating! Cushions on chairs, backs to seats and pillows on benches. Seriously, the third wave of coffee shops consists of minimalism and back aches, if you haven't noticed.
The cafe has California inspired all-day breakfast and lunch menus and, the most unheard of amenities in LA, FREE VALET PARKING... I had to read the sign a few times before I understood the words all together in one sentence. Another few must mentions: Bluestone Lane runs a loyalty program via app and mobile order! This location also has a convenient "take away" walk up window. Beware - they are cashless! You must have mobile pay or a credit/debit card handy.
They have WiFi, almond and oat milks, a restroom and as mentioned... free valet parking! Though consistency needs some work, if you're on 3rd street for Bacari W. 3rd or Belcampo I do recommend you check out Bluestone Lane - they have a little something for everyone.
My ratings for Bluestone Lane:
First date spot: ☕☕☕☕☕
Work spot: ☕☕☕☕
Cold brew: ☕☕☕☕
Customer service: ☕☕☕
Keep an eye out for a dancing goat, or you'll walk right past this place! Kaldi is one of outer LA's best kept secrets... So much so, that I selfishly hesitate to spill the beans.
Named after the herder who's goats discovered coffee around the ninth century, this was my favorite spot when I lived in Atwater. Not to mention, it's got a prime location down the street from the Anthony Bourdain-made-famous hole in the wall Tacos Villa Corona. You'll see swarms of people with Kaldi coffee and a breakfast burrito in tow on Saturday mornings, as it's a heavenly combination. (I recommend putting in your food order, then stepping away for coffee -- because your food still won't be ready by the time you walk back, due to popularity)
If you have a sweet tooth, Kaldi has some of the best pastries a shop can buy! I highly recommend the "escargot" (if they're not sold out). It's a swirled roll with almond, pistachio and raspberry (my new favorite flavor combination). ON POINT.
Kaldi has a small interior, with plenty of outdoor seating and probably my favorite big coffee brand: Counter Culture. They rotate drips every week or two, and while I like their espresso, the coffee is brewed to perfection, hot and cold. If you're a cold brew-drinker, do NOT miss out on theirs, made with a light & fruity coffee, all the notes come through even on the hottest of days. Counter Culture is consistently fresh, flavorful and pure -- as is Kaldi's preparation of it.
The baristas are admittedly hipster af, but without the attitude. They're just what I look for: knowledgeable, sincere and mellow like a Sunday morning. The vibe is very chill, everyone's on their laptop, maybe with dog in tow (Atwater is notoriously dog-friendly), at teeny tables spaced out just enough to side-slide between.
Paid street parking is ample (on the weekdays), they have WiFi, all the alternative milk options and a restroom! Come stay a while and enjoy the highest-quality coffee LA can buy.
My ratings for Kaldi:
Pour over: ☕☕☕☕☕
Cold brew: ☕☕☕☕☕
Customer service: ☕☕☕☕☕
First date spot: ☕☕☕☕
Work spot: ☕☕☕
Feature: Andante in Fairfax
Andante is a stone's throw from The Grove and my newest residence off Miracle Mile, so this review has been a long time coming!
Let me start with the good:
Their coffee, their own. Their coffee = delicious. I always get their Ethiopian pour over, a bag of beans and a cold brew (so I admit I haven't had the espresso yet). A bag of beans which, BTW, gets you a free drink at time of purchase.
The Ethiopian Yirgacheffe produces an angelic cup of coffee. I constantly buy a bag of beans for daily home brewing, and I am never disappointed when I grab a cup to go or stay. The cold brew is just as stellar: light and fruity leaving a citrusy zing on the tongue much like their Ethiopian pour overs. I'm rarely a cold coffee drinker, so the fact that it's always a toss up whether I'll get cold or hot coffee when I visit, is a big deal.
Now, the bad:
The seating is sparse on a weekend, probably not as bad during the week. Though it's a beautiful space, the furniture probably wouldn't be comfortable for a long stay.
I've been going to Andante since about June 2019, and noticed around mid-January 2020 that they now have a B card in the window, which is frightening, but also explains why I haven't had any espresso drinks there yet... Unfortunately, I think the reasons are obvious. Every time I go there the milks are sitting out on the counter, and, there are sometimes flies in the pastry case.
Now back to the good, because I definitely advise giving this place a chance. They have milk alternatives - almond and oat. They have street and residential parking, WiFi and outlets.
All in all, because it's less than a mile from home, and because they have genuinely good black coffee (hot and cold), I love this place. It's a grab and go shop, for me, due to the lackluster seating and a bit quiet and echo-y for a first date spot. Give it a go and you'll find you may just want to return, if for nothing else, to grab a bag of beans!
My ratings for Andante:
Pour over: ☕☕☕☕☕
Cold brew: ☕☕☕☕☕
Customer service: ☕☕☕
Work spot: ☕☕
First date spot: ☕
This one-year-young coffee shop sits on a baby corner in Bixby Knolls touting "coffee, bread and provisions." It's a cottage-y feeling hipster dwarf's house by the size and subway-tiling of it, minimal but comfy seating inside, with some outlets for laptop work. I went on a quiet Tuesday morning so I can imagine weekends are even tougher to snag a table (or outlet), but seating and charging were readily available that day.
The Merchant has Stumptown offerings so I didn't feel compelled to get any black coffee, instead I noticed they had 1883-brand syrups, & I think they do the best vanilla, so I got a vanilla latte which was expectantly smooth. The miniature interior was enjoyable, I felt compelled to read a book or whittle a bird call in the luscious, homey surrounding.
If you're in the BK area, stop by The Merchant for a quaint lapse in reality and a cup of coffee. I'll be back for a fresh, homemade pastry!
My ratings for The Merchant:
Study spot? 1 star (no WiFi)
Quality pour over? N/A
Espresso? 5 stars
Seating? 3 stars
First date spot? 2 stars
Customer Service? 4 stars
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