Coffee houses and dessert are synonymous in Koreatown as an any-time-of-day kind of thing—whether for a snack, after dinner, a night of karaoke, or while studying. Many are Wi-Fi connected haunts and can be found on virtually every corner serving specialty cakes, patbingsoo (shaved ice), Koreatown ice cream, and other sweet confections. Here are twelve spots to check out.
Alchemist Coffee Project
This sleek industrial style coffeehouse sits in a corner strip mall with $2 valet parking. The stellar drink list includes house drip from 49th Parallel, single origin beans from Peru and Ethiopia, espresso, a variety of lattes, ice blendeds, and hot drinks. The food menu offers salads, paninis, and toasts, while dessert offerings include cheesecakes, macarons, and Bread Lounge standouts such as croissants, brioche pudding, and kouign amann.
Shaved ice confections can be found pretty much everywhere in Koreatown, but there is a certain finesse that goes into the perfectly round, hand-shaped ice domes at this all white corner spot on Western. Here they serve up two styles of shaved ice: Tokyo (strawberry, sweet pumpkin, Oreo cream cheese, mint chocolate) and Seoul (milk, black sesame, grain). The difference between the two styles is that the Korean variety has mochi and red beans. Most flavors are house-made. There’s also fresh churros filled chocolate, strawberry, cream cheese, or custard. Coffee seekers will enjoy two types of cold brew, as well as a latte, cappuccino, or mocha. Uniquely, they also serve four types of alkalinade drinks–tart refreshers used as a sort of a detox.
Koreatown meets Italy (and perhaps France) at this Serrano Avenue restaurant just off 6th Street that resembles a large house with multiple rooms and patios. A patisserie grabs the attention upon entering with a jewel case filled with colorful macarons and fancy looking cakes. A coffee bar menu offers a large assortment of options as well as tea. And if you’re hungry for real food, there’s a full menu.
This unique Koreatown cafe on Oxford Street is a house that’s been converted to a café and is reminiscent of a bright European cottage divided into small rooms with wood floors, antique furniture, flowered wall art and a vintage tea cup collection. Classical music adds to a relaxed vibe. There is a large list of tea, juice, ice blended drinks, and coffee (using fair trade beans). The dessert menu is small, but choice: Berry Blossom cake, scones, and coconut cookies from Susina Bakery, Duverger Macarons, organic barley and organic quinoa shaved ice. Pastrami and ham/cheese sandwiches are also offered. Parking is available in the front lot.
Modeled after traditional European coffeehouses, Caffébene has 1,600 locations around the world. It’s worth a shout out for its coffee drinks, tea, sweet waffles, and savory toasts. Also, for the misagaru latte—a traditional Korean warm drink made from whole grains. The Koreatown location is a favorite study place, especially for the quiet second story “library” area, as well as adjacent parking for $2.
Document Coffee Bar
This small modern coffeehouse makes a great cup of coffee, whether it’s the cold brew with a touch of maple, the Document latte, or the matcha latte. Special chocolate stirs are available for an extra sweet touch. They also carry pastries, scones, and cookies from Bread Lounge. And a rarity for Koreatown, there’s parking and a patio in back.
Holy Roly Ice Cream
The latest on-trend ice cream in LA is an organic frozen dessert mixed with milk, cream and sugar and rolled into tubes from a frozen plate— kind of a next generation Cold Stone. There are eight flavors, including earl grey, matcha, vanilla/Oreo, banana/nutella, and French toast. The unlimited toppings are mixed in and piled on top. Each custom order takes about 10 minutes to prepare, so expect to wait. A faster option is to order from the list of scooped ice creams with interesting flavors such as choco pie, green plum, black sesame, and injeolmi (chewy rice cake mixed with vanilla) and add toppings.
This two-story 6th Street coffeehouse with open rafters has an artistic European vibe with black and white checkered floors, brick red walls, large mirrors, and a mix of wood antique furniture. Only a large flat screen takes away from the feeling. No matter, there’s a glass case filled with Sweet Lady Jane cakes to make it all better, plus a good assortment of coffee and tea. An added bonus, there is outdoor seating behind the building.
“Ice flakes” are the rage here—ribbons of creamy, fluffy flavors topped with combinations of fresh fruit, milk pudding, cereal, red beans, and nuts. Thickly cut cakes, such as mango, can be ordered separately or paired with frozen desserts, which also includes ice flake cake. Thirst quenchers include fun tea drinks such as cream black tea, mango tea cocktail, and milk tea slush; smoothies; and of course, coffee.