LA Coffee Shops With Character: Java, with a Twist

Coffee Shops with Character

Coffee shops in Los Angeles are as diverse as the city’s neighborhoods.  From Los Feliz to Long Beach, java is served up in emporiums that cater to every kind of coffee fanatic.   There is always Starbucks, but if you want to add a twist to your caffeine routine, the LA provides some winsome options.  Starting on the east side of the city, here are my top five:

The Alcove in Los Feliz offers a fresh, gourmet spin on a local coffee shop.  Yes, the coffee is premium, but so is the food and this elevates the entire place. The coffee is from Seattle-based “micro-roaster” Fonte, and beans are hand-roasted every week specifically for The Alcove.  This special process gives the espresso drinks that desirable, strong, gourmet quality.  For something to eat, choose among menu delectations such as breakfast paninis, crepes, or one of Alcove’s signature “big bens” (egg benedicts). Lunch and dinner menus are also available, as well as a temptation-inducing repertoire of baked goods.  Enjoy it all in the upscale-casual setting where seating is abundant and available both inside and outside.  The patio is beautifully landscaped, creating a serene atmosphere where you will likely find others meeting, writing, or reading the paper.  
Alcove is located at 1929 Hillhurst Avenue.  Hours are Monday – Wednesday 6:00 am–11:00 am; Thursday – Saturday 6:00 am–12:00 am; and Sunday 7:00 am–11:00 pm.

The 101 Coffee Shop in Hollywood is not only a hugely popular watering hole for young Hollywood, but a Los Angeles landmark.  Located in very close proximity the 101 Freeway, this shop has been in existence since the 1930’s.  Over the years it has been host to celebrities galore, and it has also frequently been used a movie set.  The décor at the 101 is what separates it from the other shops on this list.  Designer Warner Ebbink meticulously “updated” the design to be reminiscent of the late 60’s.  Its long counter, dark wood paneling, and brown leather booths all induce a vibe from that era. Whether you sit at the counter, or in one of the spacious booths, you are in for a serious taste of retro.  The food at 101 is also meticulous, and Chef Brandon Boudet has created a classy coffee shop menu which also includes vegetarian and vegan options.  
101 Coffee Shop is located at 6145 Franklin Avenue.  Hours are Monday – Sunday 7:00 am–3:00 am.

Swingers in West Hollywood is a favorite haunt among hipsters and locals from the neighborhood.  The major draw of this coffee shop is its late night hours, where one can indulge in pancakes, huevos rancheros, or a root beer float up until 4:00 am every day of the week.   Despite its greasy-spoon appearance, the food is above par for an establishment of its kind.  For a caffeine fix, specialty coffee drinks include a “yogiccino” as well as a “swinger zinger”—you get the idea.  Outdoor seating is available; inside and out the atmosphere is casual and trendy.  
Swingers is located at 8020 Beverly Boulevard. Hours are Monday – Sunday 6:30 am– 4:00 am.

Fratelli’s Coffee and Doughnuts in Beverly Hills specializes in “designer doughnuts” and its own proprietary blend of espresso.  This posh shop takes the classic coffee-and-doughnut pairing to new heights.   The coffee is roasted locally, one batch at a time, insuring its fresh goodness. As for the doughnuts, Fratelli’s serves both cake-style and yeast-raised, as well as churros, beignets, crullers, and fritters.  It offers the most extensive menu of house-made specialty doughnuts in the city, and is truly a doughnut-lovers gastronomical heaven.  Vermont maple glazed, creamy peanut butter and raspberry, and green-apple fritter are a few of the highlights.  The shop has a European feeling to it, showcasing the fried delights in a sleek display case which is flanked by a shiny espresso machine.  Seating includes oversized leather sofas as well as café tables.  
Fratelli’s is located at 350 N. Canon Drive.  Hours are Monday – Friday 7:00 am–6:00 pm; Saturday 7:30 am–6:00 pm; and Sunday 8:00 am–6:00 pm.

Further south in Long Beach, but still technically in the county of Los Angeles, is Polly’s.  This is one of the only coffee shops in the area that actually roasts coffee beans right on the premises.  Polly’s has used the same 15-kilo German “Probat” roaster since their opening in 1976.  Daily roasting of the beans in-house results in the freshest tasting coffee in the neighborhood, and on half-mile strip of real estate where you can find Starbucks, Peet’s, It’s a Grind and Coffee Bean, that’s saying a lot.  The roaster is located in the retail space so guests can see—and smell—the fresh coffee beans, and this gives the place its enchanting ambiance.  With thirty-six different roasts on hand including, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Columbian Excelso, and Kona, Polly’s coffee program is impressive.  Over thirty varieties of tea, as well as a selection of muffins, croissants, and bagels, are also available.  Polly’s other captivating feature is its outdoor patio, which is usually full of loyal regulars. Owner Mike Sheldrake is always on site and most of his customers know him by name.  
Polly’s is located at  4606 E. 2nd Street.  Hours are Monday – Saturday 6:00 am–9:00 pm and Sunday 7:00 am–9:00 pm

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