LA's specialty coffee shops are much more than just places to get your caffeine fix - they reflect the city's diversity and are often cultural hubs that are an integral part of their neighborhoods. From hidden gems to stunning spaces and coffee for a cause, read on for more than 20 of LA's best coffee shops.
In September 2018, Alex Eliscu Kipling opened SPLA Coffee, a 350 square-foot Brazilian coffee bar on the edge of Chinatown (714 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90012). Kipling brought Otávio Shih on as a partner in February 2021, and they rebranded SPLA as Aquarela ("watercolor" in Portuguese). Inspired by the streets of São Paulo, the white-gray concrete and tile interior is still there, while the facade is now bright green and pink.
Aquarela opened its second location in April 2021 inside the stunning lobby of The CalEdison (601 W. 5th St., Los Angeles 90071) across from the Central Library. Completed in 1931, the restored Art Deco building features a 30-foot high lobby with coffered ceilings, 17 different types of marble, and The Apotheosis of Power mural by Hugo Ballin.
The short list of specialty drinks includes the traditional Cafezinho, a double espresso extracted over raw sugar; and the Batida, a blended version of the popular Brazil cocktail made with iced coffee, banana, coconut and condensed milk. Noshes include pastries and pão de queijo (Brazilian cheesebread).
Microroasted in Los Angeles, Aquarela's farm-direct Brazilian coffees include the bestselling Se Chama "Fruit Bomb" - the intriguing tasting notes tout gummy bears, rosé and candied plum. The Anaerobic Series currently features Red Bourbon, SL28 and Yellow Catuai varieties. A postcard attached to each bag has a photo and info about the producer.
Friends Phill Kim, Eric Pfleeger and Kevin Hockin opened the 200 square-foot Collage Coffee (5106 York Blvd Los Angeles 90042) in 2017. This mod Highland Park spot is a must as much for the coffee as it is for the colorful tilework that graces the interior and exterior. The handmade tiles are courtesy of Faile, a Brooklyn-based artistic collaboration. Order inside (one person at a time) and pick up at the side window. Seating is limited to a couple of tables on the rustic patio and a bench under a tree in front.
Coffee beans are sourced from Ventura-based Prospect Coffee Roasters. Hot drinks are served in ceramic cups made by Kim - a limited number of tumblers and mugs are available at the Collage website. The coffee menu includes the usual suspects done precisely well and a rich cold brew poured on tap. Collage also features Straus Family Organic Milk and The Captain's Daughters Tea.
Full Service Coffee Co.
"Fill 'er up" at Full Service Coffee Co., which opened in September 2018 inside a restored 1940s Texaco gas station (4450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles 90004). Pull into the Streamline Moderne space at the corner of Beverly and Hobart, select from the plant-based coffee menu (all drinks are made with oat milk by default), and wait for a barista to bring your to-go order or enjoy at an outdoor table. Fuel up for your morning commute with the Spanish Latte (espresso, cinnamon, coconut condensed milk, hemp milk) or the Chagaccino with espresso, chaga blend, and oat milk.
Go Get Em Tiger + G&B Coffee
Founded by Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski in 2012, Go Get Em Tiger is one of LA's most acclaimed specialty coffee chains. In May 2013, the award-winning duo opened their first location, G&B Coffee at the historic Grand Central Market (317 S Broadway C19, Los Angeles 90013) across from Angels Flight. The innovative cocktail bar-style service has influenced numerous third wave coffee shops, and G&B continues to be a proving ground for GGET's new ideas.
A month after opening G&B, Glanville and Babinski debuted Go Get Em Tiger in Larchmont Village (230 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles 90004). With its long counter, GGET followed on G&B's bar service model and the full kitchen expanded the food offerings beyond the usual pastries. GGET locations have since opened in Los Feliz, Highland Park, ROW DTLA, The Music Center, Culver City, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
Whether you're at G&B Coffee or a Go Get Em Tiger, be sure to order the Business & Pleasure: shot of espresso, signature fizzy hoppy tea, and housemade almond-macadamia nut milk latte.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen
Founded by LA natives Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen counts Issa Rae (Insecure) and former NFL player Spencer Paysinger (All American) among its partners. Hilltop's flagship location (170 N La Brea Ave, Inglewood 90301) occupies the 3,500 square-foot space that previously housed Sweetie Pies, across from the KJLH 102.3 FM radio station owned by the legendary Stevie Wonder.
Along with favorites like the hot drip Slauson House Blend and Lavender Latte (double espresso, house-made lavender syrup, choice of milk), seasonal offerings include the Sweet Potato Latte - double shot of espresso, house sweet potato sauce, and choice of milk, topped with pumpkin spice.
The extensive food options include Hilltop Droptops (Almond Butter, Avocado or Smoked Salmon Toast), Handhelds (the Coffee-Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese is a must), and Bowls like the hearty Soul Bowl with poached egg, creamy grits, braised collard greens and charred corn.
Hot & Cool Cafe
Tony Jolly and Tina Amin opened Hot & Cool Cafe in Leimert Park (4331 Degnan Blvd, Los Angeles 90008) with the mission of offering access to Black-centered arts and culture, plant-based food, and employment opportunities and training, regardless of circumstance. An LA County-certified social enterprise, Hot & Cool tackles food inequity through its Senior Meal Program and its partnership with Los Angeles Community Fridges. In January 2021, Tony and Tina opened a second location, Hot & Cool North at the Vert Apartments in the Valley (6606 Variel Ave #123, Canoga Park 91303).
Full of clove and cranberry undertones with a 70% dark chocolate finish, the house Black Sugar Blend (Tiqoor Siquar) hails from a woman-owned farm in the highlands of Ethiopia. "The Be Cool" is a seasonal cold brew infused with blueberries and raspberries. Every Wednesday at 8:30pm, Hot & Cool hosts The Wonder Years watch parties with free The Be Cool and blueberry muffins. The Vegan Bar Menu includes Cauliflower Wings, Sliders, Nachos Supreme, and the Soul Bowl (plant-based bbq chicken, vegan mac & cheese, garlic collard greens, on a bed of basmati rice).
Kindness & Mischief
In the successful Kickstarter that helped fund Kindness & Mischief (5537 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90042), owner Monique “Mo” Maravilla envisioned a “people-driven, quality-obsessed, community-centered specialty coffee shop." Located in Highland Park, K&M is easy to spot - look for the eye-catching turquoise facade above the bright red door. (The iconic Chicken Boy statue is on the rooftop across the street.) The double-height interior features a herringbone bar, Leaf & Spine plant pop-up, and the "Mischief Library" - leave a book, take a book.
Espresso-based drinks include seasonal offerings and "The Mischief" - the signature latte is made with house-made vegan chocolate ganache, cayenne and choice of milk. The rotating coffee list recently featured Rose Park Roasters, Onyx Coffee Lab, and Hi-Top Coffee. Pastries include Filipino Treats by K&M barista Dominique Villanueva and vegan donuts by The Caffeinated Kitchen. The veg-friendly breakfast burritos are made by All Good Things and available daily till they're sold out.
K&M is continuing its Fuel the Frontliners program, which invites the community to buy coffee and pastries for delivery to local healthcare workers.
Liberation Coffee House
Located at the flagship Anita May Rosenstein Campus of the Los Angeles LGBT Center (6725 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90038), Liberation Coffee House is a 1,600-square-foot café and community space operated and staffed by graduates of the Center’s Culinary Arts program. The three-month program trains LGBTQ youth and seniors from the Center for employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries.
The cafe is named for the first “Liberation House” opened by the Center (then known as the Gay Community Services Center) in 1971, which provided room and board to homeless LGBTQ youth and adults for $1.50 a day. It was the nation’s first facility of its kind. A photo of the 1971 Liberation House is one of numerous black-and-white historical Center photographs exhibited throughout the space.
Designed by LA-based ORA and recipient of the 2020 AIA|LA Interior Architecture Citation Award, the interior is inspired by the art of Keith Haring, with a palette that evokes the rainbow colors of the Pride flag.
Liberation features Verve Coffee Roasters - the Streetlevel blend for drip coffee, Buena Vista dark roast for espresso. The Matcha Latte is made with organic Rishi green tea from Kagoshima, Japan. Pastries are locally-made by Bakers Kneaded, while items like breakfast burritos, sandwiches, wraps, salads, flatbreads and more are prepared by Culinary Arts alums. Revenue from the cafe is reinvested into the Center's programs and services.
Little Ripper Coffee
This cozy café in Glassell Park is the perfect neighborhood gathering spot - exactly what Sydney native Rex Roberts and wife Lorena Jurado had in mind when they opened Little Ripper Coffee (4155 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles 90065) in the fall of 2017. The minimalist interior evokes a bit of a surfside vibe; the exterior has scattered seating in front, a couple of tables at the side patio, and a wooden bench circling a tree.
Coffee is made from La Colombe beans. Do not miss the signature Little Ripper, made with a double shot of espresso and housemade almond milk infused with a choice of lavender, turmeric or chicory.
For "brekkie," choose from toasts like the Smash Avo (avocado toast), Goldie Lox, or A Berry Sexy Toast with almond butter, assorted berries, pistachios, coconut, flaxseed and chia seed, topped with a drizzle of honey and mint sprigs. Jaffles (aka "Australian grilled cheese") include The Classic (cheddar cheese & tomato), Loaded (cheddar, prosciutto, avocado, hot sauce) and the veg-friendly Nutty Nana with sliced banana and nutella.
Opened in September 2016, the original location of Maru Coffee (1936 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles 90027) is a favorite of the Los Feliz locals that queue up along Hillhurst. The name is derived from San Ma Ru - "mountaintop" in Korean. In the Spring of 2018, co-founders Jacob Park and Joonmo Kim opened a second, larger Maru Coffee in the Arts District (1019 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles 90021), where they now roast their coffee. Both spaces have a spare, minimalist design with a subdued cream palette and an artistic aesthetic.
Regulars swear by the Cream Top, an iced Americano topped with a thickened vanilla-sweetened cream. Other favorites include the Espresso Tonic, garnished with an orange slice; and the Matcha Latte with ceremonial-grade Ippodo tea from Kyoto.
Matte Black Coffee
If you've ever wanted to step into a black-and-white Roy Lichtenstein painting, Matte Black Coffee is the coffee shop for you. In May 2023, Matte Black moved from Downtown LA and opened inside Fred Segal on the Sunset Strip (8500 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood 90069). The striking interior, coffee bags, tins and merch feature the monochromatic artwork of co-owner Joshua Vides, a SoCal-based visual artist and designer. A first-generation Guatemalan American, Vides recently celebrated the launch of his Disney x UNIQLO collaboration with a Monochrome Mickey Mouse Pop Up at the original shop.
Matte Black specializes in cold brew, including latte options like Caramel, Dark Chocolate Mint, French Toast, White Chocolate Lavender and Blueberry Pancake. Partner James Malone features beans from Mostra Coffee, Roast magazine's 2020 Roaster of the Year that was co-founded by his wife Jelynn.
The brainchild of Julian Anguiano (aka Julian "Filth") and Sol Castillo, Mystyx Kafe features coffee drinks with a goth vibe on bustling Cesar Chavez Avenue in East LA. From a wooden cart emblazoned with Mystyx's flying witch logo, the duo serves up a themed menu with potions like Black Magic ("The Black Arabica Goddess"), White Magic (horchata "shaken with sin"), and the Nocturnal Latte with caramel and mocha on the walls.
Mystyx Kafe currently pops up in front of Superior Grocers (3600 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles 90063) and Northgate Market (425 S. Soto St., Los Angeles 90033). Follow @mystyxcafe on Instagram for updates.
Opened in June 2019 by Shawn Farrar and her daughter Eviana, Nimbus Coffee (1115 S Hope St., Los Angeles 90015) is a must for Harry Potter fans. Named for Harry's first broom, Nimbus Coffee features a themed decor with artwork that reimagines African American icons as wizards, such as Prince as Severus Snape (aka the "Half-Blood Prince"), and Morgan Freeman as Dumbledore. The menu continues the theme with "Elixirs" like the Mischief Macaroon (coconut almond milk latte) and Witches Cold Brew with oat milk, condensed milk, and spices.
NOTE: Nimbus posted on Instagram that due to increased rent, the last day of service was December 11. They are planning to reopen at another location in 2023.
Obet & Del's
Located in Thai Town, Obet & Del's (5233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles 90027) is a Black- and Filipino-owned neighborhood favorite opened by Heather Knox and Joshua Oliveros in January 2020. The sun-splashed interior features bright yellow chairs and a '70s style racing stripe that runs throughout the space.
Specials include the signature Filipino Iced Coffee, a "powerfully caffeinated" latte with ube (purple yam) oat milk and single origin dark roast; Thai Town Latte (sweetened plant-based oat milk, cha yen, star anise, vanilla, sweet tamarind); and WC Mac Latte with lightly sweetened turmeric milk, Ceylon Black Tea, vegan condensed milk, honey, topped with fresh cracked black pepper.
Founded by longtime locals Deanna and Geoffrey Martinez with the support of a successful Indiegogo campaign, Patria Coffee (108 Alameda St, Compton 90221) is located a half-mile from the Compton Station of the Metro A Line (Blue).
The signature Cafe de Olla is brewed over ice with organic seasonal coffee, piloncillo (cane sugar), cinnamon, cardamom and anise. Other favorites include Cafe con Leche, Ibarra Mexican Mocha, and Iced Lavender Hibiscus. Patria's rotating photo exhibits recently featured "Magic in the Streets: The Black Arts Movement in Compton."
Rubies + Diamonds
Located adjacent to Sugarfish Hollywood at the Columbia Square campus, Rubies + Diamonds (6115 W Sunset Blvd, Ste 150, Los Angeles 90028) was opened by LAMILL co-founder Jean Shim in December 2015. The contemporary space features wraparound bench seating, knee-high gold-plated obsidian tables, and a dazzling chandelier by Vincent Tomczyk. The rotating art on view at R+D recently featured the work of LA-based, Trinidad-born Miles Regis.
The best-selling Coconut Sea Salt Cold Brew is a sweet and salty vegan coffee option with almond milk and coconut whipped cream. Other signature R+D drinks include the 18-Hour Cold Brew, Masala Chai, and Rose Vanilla Latte (espresso with Madagascar vanilla, rose water, textured milk). "Caf Rated" drip coffee ranges from 00 (decaf) to 02 (Arabica) up to 04 (Robusta, aka "Extra Extra Caffeine").
Silverback Coffee of Rwanda
Sip coffee for a cause at Silverback Coffee of Rwanda (1712 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026), located at the landmark Jensen's Recreation Center building in Echo Park. Silverback founder Jack Karuletwa donates proceeds to Rwandan organizations that build schools and provide services to widows and orphans who survived the 1994 genocide. Karuletwa also partnered with the Rwandan government to support the critically endangered gorilla that gives the cafe its name.
"For the Love" coffees feature Rwanda's Morning Light, Rwanda's Medium Smooth, and Rwanda's Distinctive Dark - 100% Bourbon Arabica grown from 4,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. Iced coffee lovers can enjoy Nitro Cold Brews like cinnamon, raspberry, and vanilla oat. If you can't make it to Echo Park for your Silverback Coffee fix, it's also available at your local Trader Joe's.
Sip & Sonder
Established in 2017, Sip & Sonder's flagship location (108 S Market St, Inglewood 90301) is the first specialty coffee house in Inglewood. With a coffee roaster, creative studio, and multi-purpose event space on site, Sip & Sonder is much more than a typical coffee shop - it's a Black women-owned entrepreneurial and creative hub where coffee, community and culture connect.
In November 2021, Sip & Sonder partnered with The Music Center to open a second location, a standalone outpost near the entrance of Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012). Along with classic coffee drinks, Sip & Sonder serves up specialty drinks such as the Cardi Rose, a Rose and Cardamom latte; and its REFRESH line of tonics and spritzers, including a Lavender Espresso Tonic.
Sip & Sonder expanded to a third location at Macy's Westfield Fashion Square (14000 Riverside Dr, Sherman Oaks 91423) in September 2022.
Thank You Coffee
Launched in March 2020, Thank You Coffee (938 N Hill St, Los Angeles 90012) is a hidden gem pop-up tucked inside Paper Please at Chinatown's Central Plaza. In an interview with Voyage LA, co-founder Jonathan Yang said that Paper Please originally popped up in a coffee shop, and the owners wanted to pay it forward by offering their space to Thank You Coffee.
Specialty drinks include the MSG-infused Five Spice Latte, house-roasted Hojicha Latte, and the You're Welcome Latte, made with espresso, smoked black tea syrup (lapsang souchong from Fujian, China), chicory pecan bitters and oat milk.
Pastries are provided by Largwa, such as Passionfruit Madeleines and "L'aureos" - Laura Hoang's homemade Oreos with double chocolate rye cookie dough and thick vanilla creme filling.
Tilt Coffee Bar
Located in the courtyard of the Medallion Apartments in Downtown LA, Tilt Coffee Bar (334 S. Main St, Los Angeles 90013) is a sleek, tilted kiosk designed with glass and metal, accented by a giant suspended lotus flower.
Owners Kyu Ho Choi and Suk Hong prepare coffee drinks using Portland-based Heart Coffee Roasters. All the drinks are well-made, but you’re here for two signatures - the Cloud Mocha, made with layers of espresso, milk, chocolate and a cold cream that's made fresh daily; and the Cloud Latte, an iced version that swaps maple syrup for chocolate.
Verve Coffee Roasters
Founded in Santa Cruz in 2007, Verve Coffee Roasters has since expanded to locations from Los Angeles to Japan. In September 2021, Verve opened its first SoCal beachfront cafe in the Metlox shopping center, located at the gateway to Downtown Manhattan Beach (451 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach 90266).
The open concept design features a convenient pick-up window - perfect for to-go orders of the Gibraltar (equal parts espresso and milk) or the Missile, made with coffee concentrate, cream, and housemade syrup served over ice. Seasonal drinks include the Whiskey Latte - Verve's classic latte sweetened with an alcohol-free whiskey reduction.
Along with pastries and toasts, noshes include the Breakfast Sandwich (brioche bun, organic egg, cheddar cheese, mixed greens, aioli, house ketchup) and the Vegan Grain Bowl, made with sweet potatoes, herbed chickpeas, grains, mixed greens, shallots, tomatoes and spicy citrus vinaigrette.