Saturday, November 14, 2009

Espresso, Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, Los Angeles

It was going to be a long
long walk. Dealbreakingly long. No matter which Intelligentsia location I chose - and I made a pact with myself to visit at least one of them - they were pretty bloody hard to get to from where I was in West Hollywood. Los Angeles has a lot of great bits, but they are all so far apart as to make walking between them almost an impossibility. It seemed I could walk for an hour and still only just cross from West Hollywood into Hollywood. I found one place that seemed to rent out bikes, and it didn't seem far away on the map.
But it was.
And it turns out they don't rent out bikes. They only do that at their other stores, in more bike-friendly locations. If I was at all inclined to write passive-agressive negative reviews on Yelp, I would protest that this bike shop's Yelp listing said that it hires out bikes. But where do you go to complain when Yelp's information is incorrect? Who Yelps the Yelp?
I walked a bit further down Melrose, unsure if I was really going to walk for three hours to Intelligentsia way up the other end of Hollywood proper where Santa Monica Blvd meets Sunset (as far as I knew those two boulevards were parallel - would I have to walk INFINITE miles to reach their intersection?), recoiling at the numerous Ed Hardy crimes being committed around me, when all of a sudden, outside a vintage t-shirt store (if it has a URL on it, it ain't vintage in my book) I saw a taxi.
Crisis averted!
I got in, and gave him some fairly confusing directions. He executed a confusing series of U-turns, forgot to switch on the meter for a while, and soon we were tearing up Santa Monica. On the way I saw a poster for Point Break Live, which sounds like a great idea until you search for it on YouTube.
The cab ride cost me $20. Ouch. I was going to have to rethink my return journey. Later. First: coffee.

Here we are. Just slightly around the corner from where the taxi spat me out on the pavement, I'm a little horrified to admit that I knew which way to walk because I remembered that Google Street View showed that the place I was looking for was across the road from some sort of leather fetish shop called Rough Trade. Intelligentsia was alive with delicious coffee-related sounds, aloof white person conversation, a stampede across Macbook Pro keyboards, and the smug clatter of iPhone-on-marble. I'd come to the right place: it seems you can't have one without the other three. And not a single Ed Hardy t-shirt in sight.

Above, you can see two Synessos, two clover™, many grinders (including a doserless one that seemed to dish out the same weight every time - I was happy to not have my queueing accompanied by the CLAK CLAK CLAK CLAK empty doser soundtrack) and a queue that goes all the way out the door. I queued up. For a long time. A very long time. Not only do these customers know it's worth coming all the way here, they know it's worth queueing for too. To avoid queueing again, I ordered an espresso and a cappuccino.

Delicious. I downed the espresso first - it had a much shorter shelf life - but that meant I couldn't really taste the cappuccino afterwards. My tastebuds had set their coffee threshold so high after the espresso that they didn't even see the cappuccino come in the door. But I gave them time to settle down. It was worth it. Easily worth the journey. And possibly the $20 cab ride. But not another $20 to get back. I got on the bus instead, which cost $1.25 and took me almost exactly back to the hotel. But bus rides in foreign countries are always terrifying when you don't know how the fares work.
"Er, just down to La Cienega."
That sounded made-up. Whatever. I tried to hand the change to him.
"No. The machine."
I put my money in. It gladly accepted it. It didn't spit anything out though.
By this point we were at the next stop and angry people who knew how to ride a bus were lining up behind me wondering what the problem was.
"What do you need?"
"I put my money in, nothing came out."
"No ticket."
I couldn't tell if it was a question or a statement. Was he asking if I had a ticket already? Did that mean I was supposed to buy one before I got on?
"Can I buy one?"
"No. No ticket."
He meant I just put the money in, and it doesn't issue a ticket. I guess that's a good system, if you can only enter through the front doors. I slunk to the back of the bus like a tourist. A very caffeinated one.

1 comment:

  1. Good blog. I feel like coffee and Los Angeles go hand in hand. Intelligentsia is like the fancy manicured hand as opposed to Starbucks and Coffee Bean which are the regular plain hand.