After migrating from Chicago to LA in 2007, I figured it was normal to be on a constant exploration of the new & unfamiliar territory. However 6 years later, I still find myself spending my weekends attempting to get lost in my own city, and spending too much money as I "must just try one thing," from any unique place I come across.
This brings me back to a weekend in early May that was actually mentioned in my intro blog post, http://www.chicagonow.com/mayor-daily/2013/05/marmiles-off-da-bone/, when I made visits to 3 different coffee houses within one hour and 2.5 miles from my home one Saturday morning.
Let me begin by emphasizing that my first stop was solely to grab my daily green tea from somewhere new. I popped into “Caffe Bello,” which is a small shop on sleepy Broadway in Santa Monica that I pass quite often on my way to the Santa Monica Co-Op, (not-so-secret, secret vegan). The green tea was, well, green tea. Nothing spectacular however, they are known for their Italian coffee * espresso which I naturally needed to try. I tried the espresso which was actually quite good and didn't have the burnt taste to it that you often find. They also offer a wide selection of Hot Chocolates such as “Orange & Cinnamon” and “Whiskey Catalina Crème” which will certainly be my next order once I return.
This is a perfect place to go if your goal is to read, or to actually meet someone for coffee/tea where you could carry a conversation without too much distraction. It also, is probably one of the only places I would feel comfortable in LA wearing sweatpants and a hoody to grab a latte- all other places in LA in my experience, aren't so welcoming to the look.
Caffe Bello: http://caffe-bello.com/
I left Caffe Bello and made my way to the Santa Monica Place on the 3rd street promenade to “window shop,” but before making my way to the stores I had to do my routine walk-through--(yes, each time I am there I must do a walk through…) of “The Market.” “The Market” is an unbelievable, luxurious twist on a typical “food court.” As I was walking through, I was reading the menu at “The Curious Baker,” and noticed something called, “Pirates Chai.” I inquired on what this was, and was provided a full lesson with my latte- Pirates chai, is a full-bodied, matcha green tea and chai tea which has 4 grams of sugar compared to the 42 grams of sugar in a Grande chai tea latte from Starbucks.
The taste was INCREDIBLE, and completely addicting. The secret to the low sugar and powerful spice is the Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar ingredient which uses Molasses, and the spice extracts being completely natural and blended specifically for Pirates Chai. In short, you can only drink this at certain spots in California and other scattered locations in the US. This is completely off the radar— I have visited a few other spots that brew Pirates Chai and when you order this from the barista, there’s a sort of twinkle in their eye, acknowledging the fact that you both know something, that so many don’t. It’s special—it is addicting—almost silly, and it sells for $75.00 for an 8.5 oz bag at the Co-Op ($28.50 online).
Pirates Chai: http://www.pirateschai.com/
Now that Pirates Chai just rocked my world, I was in a great mood. Window shopping turned into a shopping spree, which led me all the way down the promenade to Wilshire. I was about to pop into Sur La Table when I noticed a new coffee shop around the corner called, “Demitasse.” It is a quaint coffee shop that has the feel of the Intelligentsia shop on Abbott Kinney, combining industrial architecture with an artsy and open vibe. While checking out their menu, it was hard to miss the “Orange Thyme and Cardamom Latte.”
Photo Cred: Flickr
I couldn't believe I was about to purchase my third beverage of the day but it was a must. I am almost embarrassed to add that I did also order the “Lavender Hot Chocolate” at 10:00am. After purchasing both and getting a funny smirk from the barista, I posted up at a back table to enjoy the tastings. Both were out of this world—the latte was entirely unique and wasn't heavy or too sugary tasting. The lavender chocolate was thick yet easily drinkable, and the aroma from the cup was enough to make anyone fall in love with chocolate. I then had to refrain myself from asking if I could try the latte with a different type of milk since I ordered with soy, but I figured that was a bit much and I would just have to come back… that would have been quite extreme and even more gluttonous, but it truthfully is where my head goes when I fall in love with a latte, because I always like to taste from each “point of view.”
Moving on in embarrassment, this place is lovely and can serve as both a quick coffee stop and a post-dinner dessert bar.
There is trend, and it is mixology meeting coffee brewing, and I can’t get enough of it.
Lessons Learned: It is never too early for drinkable chocolate, but it is very possible to do credit card damage due to being highly caffeinated.