When not preoccupied with trying to stay famous for his allocated fifteen minutes, Andy Warhol created some art, when not creating art, Warhol was busy talking about it and society in general. Something tells me he would have loved the designer coffee shops that have sprung up in Los Angeles over the years.
‘I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic,’ Andy Warhol is quoted as saying.
Coffee shops are as much a part of the cultural and geographical landscape of Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign is.
It seems that there is a Starbuck’s literally on every corner, placing it among the realm of McDonald’s and other fast-food establishments. For those looking for a coffee shop that wants to sell you quality coffee instead of the latest Sheryl Crow music release, there are some great options.
One of the newest, and arguably most stylish, is the LAMILL Coffee Boutique in Silver Lake. There is easiness and a sense of humor at the LAMILL. It makes people want to linger, whether alone in a corner reading a book, or gathered outside on the patio. And did I mention that the coffee is really good.? The prices at LAMILL may seem excessive to those familiar with the peculiar hipster scene in Silver Lake. Yet somehow, this chic coffee shop seems to assimilate well into the neighborhood. That’s partly because the shop and its patrons are aware of the irony and no one takes themselves that seriously. The parking is notoriously bad, with a small parking lot in the back that is usually packed morning till night. This is Los Angeles after all. ‘
On paper it has all the makings of a classically pretentious designer coffee shop. For starters, the building is painted a deep, rich red and is located in the heart of Silver Lake, just down the street from Spaceland.
On Christian Lander’s wildly popular satirical blog, ‘Stuff White People Like,’ he lists people, places and things that ‘white people like.’ Topping his list of 111 things, coffee comes in at number one.
Lander writes that the only thing they like better than coffee is fair trade coffee, ‘because paying the extra $2 means they are making a difference.’ He’s being extreme, and funny, to prove an interesting point about America’s caffeine addiction.
Inside LAMILL, the custom-made furniture and decoration seems transported from some post-card European city.
The centerpiece of the room has to be the giant gold chandelier that hangs in the middle. Against a main wall there is a beautiful gray mural painting of a scene from what appears to be Greece.
The custom made chairs, made with vibrant green and red leather, add splashes of color to the minimalist decoration. ‘
The waiters are all friendly and more than happy to explain the more complicated coffee concoctions on the menu. These are people who love coffee and treat brewing it as an art form.
LAMILL has separate dinner and drink menus, with time specific breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert selections. Although the gourmet coffee and tea selection is the lure for customers, the simple yet delicious food selection is an excellent compliment.
The scrambled vegetarian hen eggs with wild mushroom, applewood smoked bacon and herb, served with three slices of toast is the perfect way to start any morning.
The Sofia Panini made with goat cheese, tomato compote, basil and red onion is served with hand-cut potato chips, olives, and preserved cippolinis.
An accurate measure of a refutable coffee shop is the vanilla latte. An innocuous and simple drink to be sure, but also one with a potential for greatness.
The double shot vanilla latte at LAMILL is perfect in execution, taste and presentation and generous in size. For those who prefer their lattes bold in flavor, this one requires no sugar and still tastes sweet.
To satisfy both a caffeine and desert craving, make sure to order the Coffee and a Jelly Doughnut. Fusing best of both worlds, the small cup is served with strawberry jelly on the bottom of the shot glass, with ‘doughnut-infused milk and topped with espresso.’
WORTH THE DRIVE
About a five minute drive from LAMILL is another popular coffee lover’s haven. Intelligentsia, about a five minute drive from LAMILL is another popular coffee lover’s haven. Interestingly enough, also painted a deep red it is located directly on West Sunset Boulevard. The street is cluttered with coffee shop after coffee shop, each packed to capacity and offering their own version of the best coffee in town.
At Intelligentsia, it’s really all about the coffee. And the tea as well, but really it’s all about the freshly brewed coffee beans. The menu is sparse, offering no food and limited baked goods, is meant to appeal to the customer who isn’t interested in coffee on the go.
The idea is to order a big cup of the day’s special brew and sit outside, enjoying the strong flavor of the coffee and the fun of people watching. The coffee here is like nowhere else, drinking it black is the way to appreciate the complex flavor.
The double-shot cappuccino is strong and bitter. After adding the requisite number of sugar packets, prepare to be wired for the day. And should you for any reason momentarily forget where you are, the racks of LA Weekly scattered everywhere will help orientate you.
The parking situation is similar to LAMILL. The small lot in the back is usually packed. Even if you have to park and walk it’s definitely worth it. The coffee really is that good. While LAMILL manages to be unpretentious, Intelligentsia is guilty of that charge.
Whether it’s on a rainy day, a lazy Sunday or you just happen to find yourself in the area, these coffee shops are worth the visit.
While the idea of spending five dollars on a cup of coffee during an economic collapse might seem strange, after having the coffee at LAMILL and Intelligentsia you won’t mind the price tag.
Marie Antoinette once famously instructed to let the people eat cake. I must borrow from her and urge you to have that overpriced cup of coffee. After all, it worked out so well for her. ‘