Told you I was a jet-setter! Okay, I am not a jet-setter. But I did travel to Massachusetts for my best friend’s wedding. It was imperative that I try out a coffee shop while there. Chanda, the bride, and Kevin, the groom, took me to Dwelltime, a sourcing-focused coffee boutique down the street from their home.
One look at the menu and you could tell that these people take their coffee seriously. I showed up a second time on my own to test the atmosphere for writing and found it highly hospitable. It doesn’t hurt that Cambridge is a college town. You can almost always be certain to find a good place to write and chug coffee in a college town. Indeed, most of its early-morning denizens were students, which momentarily sent me right back to college…not as nightmarish a feeling as expected.
I’m a caffeine junkie and cafe fly, but I don’t claim to be a coffee connoisseur, so while I enjoyed Dwelltime’s carefully-sourced and selected brews, I didn’t attain java enlightenment or anything. But it was good and I brought a bag home for myself and a friend, along with some of their homemade jam, which I probably appreciated more than the coffee–but that’s just me.
In case you’re curious, the wedding was a wonderful affair, and the bride was stunning.
Viscosity: 5 out of 5
Literati Cafe–West Side/Santa Monica Adjacent
For a time, I commuted from Highland Park to Brentwood for work. If you live in L.A., you probably cringed. My commute lasted up to two hours. Because I didn’t want to go “Falling Down” on the 10 freeway one day, I decided to park myself at a coffee shop near my work, as I had done in Downtown when I worked there, to wait out the traffic productively.
And so it was that I descended upon Literati Cafe, flapping my quill feather wings and squawking for coffee, only after a less-than-ideal experience at 8 Espressos, also near my work. It wasn’t entirely 8 Espressos’ fault that things didn’t work out. What happened is that I didn’t realize they have open mics later in the evening. Both times, they were running a comedy show. Both times, I–the only person in the audience not participating in the open mic–made an obscenely awkward exit. The last time (the time I decided I couldn’t come back), the comedian onstage begged me to stay. Begged into the microphone. Yep.
Literati was a last-minute decision. I had about 24 hours’ notice to write an article and needed a place to sit down and bang it out because I had a second article to write that same weekend. It was a Friday night. I arrived around 5:30 p.m. and found parking on Saltair, the first cross street after Wilshire. There’s unmetered street parking there if you can find a spot. I found plenty of spots at that time of day. When I showed up again at 5:30 on a Wednesday, it was a bit trickier. I can see this area being difficult for parking if you don’t want to pay, but I haven’t had to yet.
The coffee is good, the seating is ample. Good amount of outlets and they do have all-important free WiFi. In addition to pretty but unexceptional baked goods, you can get real (healthy) food here, so you’ll be fine if you’re marathon-writing and need serious fuel. I haven’t tried the real food because I live on coffee.
What with the name and the area, I was sure the crowd here would be pretentious, and I have witnessed some snotty behavior, but in general people show up to innocently socialize or work. It’s a decent crowd, and a decent place to wait out the five hours it takes for traffic to clear up in L.A.
Viscosity: 4 out of 5
The only problem I had with my old neighborhood was a lack of late-night coffee shops. When I lived in Downtown L.A. for a hot second, all I had to do was walk a couple blocks, order a cup of writing fuel, and enjoy the dull buzz of this city’s finest crazy-folk and students while doing my thing.
Highland Park needs a cafe that stays open late. Just sayin’. I always want to go to the Coffee Table in Eagle Rock but the crowding there is hellacious. One hot day, I decided to forgo coffee for boba and discovered a late-night boba place that wasn’t all the way out in Alhambra.
Flour+Tea specializes in boba done exactly the way you want it, and this glorious thing called a cloud. I’m not talking cumulus; I’m talking pillowy-soft, airy sponge cakes in flavors like black tea, strawberry rose, and blueberry lavender. I had the black tea cloud and a black tea boba and they were both perfect.
The boba shop offers stools and a high table for people in need of outlets and that worked for me. The problem with stool seating is that it gets uncomfortable after an hour or so. The place is tiny too, so you don’t have many other seating options. There are some almost communal tables in the center of the shop. I’d come back to blog over a boba and cloud, but not for lengthy writing sessions.
P.S. You can read more about the cakes and boba at Food Riot.
Viscosity: 3 out of 5