I’ve decided to continue the Best Place to Write in Los Angeles thread indefinitely rather than ending it here at Part 3, as originally planned. I’ll be taking my adventures in writing beyond coffee shops, exploring some other–perhaps offbeat–spots, and also on the road because I’m a vagabond rockstar and wanderlusting jet-setter…
The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa — Culver City
Guest Post by Victoria Farrow
I’ve gone to The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa about three times by now. The first time I wasn’t impressed at all. The place is awkwardly designed and feels cramped. It isn’t the biggest coffee shop ever but the seating area is so tight. The chairs and tables are not comfortable or inviting, just patio furniture it seems.
The place was kind of dirty; there are huge burlap sacks of coffee beans on a platform right when you walk in and rogue beans have not been swept from underneath it in forever. They do offer loose leaf teas to taste and buy, but the area to do so is as large as a hallway and difficult to access if more than one person is in that area as well.
Anyway, let’s get on to the important stuff…Their selection is the basic/essential coffee/espresso offerings but it seems they specialize in having various types of beans and roasts available. I’ve had a few different things here and maybe my palette is not fine enough, but it just tastes like coffee or espresso. It doesn’t blow my socks off. Their pastries look good, but don’t get their sandwich croissants; it was made with so much butter it felt like a slippery fish in my hands. Their muffins and scones are better.
Overall, this place is average.
Yikes! I thanked Victoria for saving me from a bad cup of coffee. I didn’t rate this one since I haven’t actually been there, but I doubt I’ll be visiting after that review.
Kaldi Coffee — Atwater Village
Justi suggested this place called Kaldi Coffee & Tea in Atwater Village and I was game to go based on her recommendation, but I was more excited about finally visiting my old java hole adjacent to the South Pasadena Public Library. Although the South Pas cafe is my favorite in all the land, I could never remember its name. It was such a nondescript, tucked-away place. For the longest time I didn’t know it had a name. The mystery was part of its charm.
You can imagine my confusion when Justi told me the name of her recommended coffee shop in Atwater and the very same name came up for my coffee shop in South Pas. The website didn’t mention two locations, so I assume it moved. I can’t confirm because we didn’t go to South Pas. Honestly, I was afraid to find my little coffee shop full of memories abandoned.
The Atwater Kaldi bore no resemblance to my Kaldi, but, inside, a fat leather armchair waited for me in a puddle of sun, so I couldn’t hold a grudge. Justi and I sprawled out like the cold-blooded lizards we are and enjoyed a cup. The shop brews its coffee on site. Could I tell the difference? Not really. It was nice and strong though; after so many weak coffees, I’ve come to appreciate that detail. They also have a large selection of teas.
Atwater is thoroughly gentrified so I was surprised by the lack of crowding inside. I guess hipsters don’t wake up earlier than noon (I swear I don’t dislike hipsters even though I keep insulting them…oh wait, yes I do). Only two or three others occupied the airy, white-walled space. Some uncomfortable-looking patio furniture hedged the street just outside the shop, but it wasn’t warm enough for that. Besides–fat leather armchair!
At Kaldi, I finally finished writing Part 2 of the Places to Write thread so I’d call it a successful writing environment. It was just quiet enough. Perhaps not having a plate of breakfast in front of me helped. Don’t come here on an empty stomach unless fruit and cold pastries satisfies you. It would not do for us, so Justi and I vacated to find food.
Viscosity: 4 out of 5
Novel Cafe — Pasadena
Justi and I learned an important lesson: never coffee hunt on an empty stomach, especially when you don’t have a plan. I thought we could wing it. We had the infallible Yelp on our side. All we had to do was find a coffee shop that served food. As we frowned at the sparse menu board in a dingy Glendale coffee shop-cum-greasy spoon that Yelp assured us was a-okay, I began to regret my bad planning. We wandered past the fancy shops and “experience” restaurants at the Americana–an outdoor shopping center–and knew we had to get right back in the car and head elsewhere before the day escaped us.
We tried our luck near Pasadena City College, where Justi had to be dropped off later, and found Novel Cafe. With a name like that, we couldn’t go wrong. This discovery turned out to be worthy of celebration in the form of mimosas. Their menu was thoughtful, they had coffee, and we could sit outside, away from the crowd, and set up our laptops. Although this place was a godsend for hungry people with writing and studying to do, I wouldn’t write here unless I could sit in the outdoor area. Indoors, Novel Cafe is very much a restaurant. I suspect working on a laptop in the low lit social atmosphere would have proved awkward.
This is one of those entries where the place is great, but maybe not so much for the task at hand.
Viscosity: 2.5 out of 5