Nothing packs a punch better on a scalding hot LA day than ice cold black gold. What even is cold brew, you ask? Just don’t call it iced coffee. The two are worlds apart.
Let’s break it down: Iced coffee is hot coffee, chilled; cold brew is brewed with cold water and never exposed to heat. The latter simple, but time consuming process results in a beverage with twice the caffeine and a smoother, less bitter finish. Kick your cold brew up a notch with a nitrogen-fueled tap and you’re looking at coffee as silky as a glass of Guinness.
LA is truly riding the third-wave coffee train, so there’s never been a better time to go cold brew hopping. From the ever popular nitro-chilled to the slow Japanese Kyoto drip, there’s supreme cold brew to be found in every neighborhood across Los Angeles:
Located in Point Dume Plaza just off of the PCH, Cafecito Organico provides excellent traffic relief on your way to or from the beach. Let’s be honest, Malibu doesn’t offer much in the coffee department beyond Starbucks. But then there's Cafecito, which has a particularly amplified cold brew game (and a top-notch breakfast burrito joint across the way). Cafecito offers three solid options: the standard medium-roast brewed in cold water for 24 hours, a cold brew latte or for more sweetness in your day, a Global Warming with cold brew, milk and raw sugar cane juice.
Lo/Cal Coffee and Market
Santa Monica, $$
The cold brew options at this quaint neighborhood cafe are aplenty, and the big ol’ Californian flag painted across its bare bricks will make you feel even more lo/cal. They even brew Stumptown beans, which are brewed in DTLA. You can grab a standard cold brew, a nitrogenized brew, a single origin brew or, to hell with it, grab a flight of all three! Then grab a growler for the road.
Culver City, $$
You can easily miss this unassuming coffee den, tucked away in an industrial pocket of Culver City with nothing but a simple metallic "9" marking the spot. Inside, you’ll find an equally industrial space — all wood and metal finishings — and cold brew that comes in cute to-go jars. The jar will cost you an extra buck, but you can bring it back for refills and safely toss your entire cold brew into your handbag or manbag on the way out. Bar Nine’s brew is super super smooth and one of our absolute favorites. Don’t forget to add a splash of homemade hazelnut milk on your way out.
Click HERE For Bar Nine's tour of Culver City
Blue Bottle Coffee
Beverly Grove, Culver City, DTLA, Venice, Echo Park, $$
This San Francisco transplant’s vibe is clean and minimalist — all light wood, white walls with a simple, bright, blue bottle marking their products. Have your cold brew freshly made in-house or grab the pre-chilled roadtripper-containers. The New Orleans brew with chicory root, organic milk and cane sugar comes in a baby milk carton and the straight up brew lives in a can that declares it’s comprised of “coffee, water and time.” Blue Bottle has spread to five cafes across the city, and its to-go concoctions are also available at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Erewhon so you’re never far from a Bluebottle fix.
One of the cutest, and most unique cafes around, Coffee Coffee has a die-hard loyalty to San Francisco’s Sightglass coffee, where owner Jay Shapiro first fell in love with coffee. Your cold brew will come with clever coffee ice cubes to prevent water damage. Jay and his staff will only add to your experience with their kick-ass attitude and grudge against obnoxious phone-users. No pretension here, just "49% sonofabitch, 51% motherfucker," as his sign lovingly warns.
Read more about Coffee Coffee and Jay’s West Hollywood guide HERE
WeHo, DTLA, Beverly Grove, $$
Verve serves cold brew in a sexy tulip glass that’ll brighten even the crappiest of days. Coupled with its nitro-infused foaming head you’ll feel like you’re downing a nice cold glass of Guinness before beer o’clock. Verve crafts an incredibly smooth, balanced brew and it’s absolutely one of those times when you should not bother adding milk and sugar. In the words of Mr. Darcy “I like you very much, just as you are.”
Check out Verve's Melrose guide HERE
Wilshire, Santa Monica, Hollywood, DTLA, $$
As you pass the front window of any Demitasse location, you’ll be impressed by the Japanese Kyoto-style apparatus peering back at you from the barista counter. All orbs and cylinders, it appears more like a science experiment, but the sign instructs that it’s your Kyoto brewing at 42 drips per minute. Here you’ll be blessed with a smooth, double-strength, cold brew that “almost tastes like brandy.” Bottoms up!
See a guide to Little Tokyo by Demitasse HERE
With jewel-colored walls, dark couches and a golden art installation pouring forth from the ceiling, Rubies + Diamonds offers more cozy comfort than most in this industiral-minimalist trend we seem to be undergoing currently. This place is a cold brew aficionado’s dream. There’s the R+D Signature cold brew that’s brewed for 18 hours as well as a smooth-pouring nitro brew (always a popular choice). But the one that’s giving everyone butterflies is the Sea Salt Cold Brew: the signature brew coupled with sea salt and your choice of milk, or coconut almond cream. A to-die-for sweet and salty affair so moreish you’ll probably have to have seconds. If you’re seeking "another" kind of cold brew, there’s also beer on tap.
Vegan sea salt cold brew. Image courtesy of @theernd
Go Get Em Tiger
Larchmont, Los Feliz, $$
From the same caffeine-fueled minds of the guys behind G & B Coffee at Grand Central Market, GGET now has two locales, having just opened in Los Feliz. Here you can find a first-rate ultra smooth, low-acid brew, or take home some ice cold bottles of the brew they make and bottle themselves under the G&B label. In fact, one of the boys behind GGET boys Charles Babinski, won Barista of the Year at the 2015 U.S. Coffee Championships. Your cold brew dreams really are in expert hands.
This Seattle cult favorite is perfectly situated so you can take your brew across to the Vista Theatre for a 2 p.m. screening, or take a seat and join the tap-tapping of screenwriters that dominates the scene. Along the back of the service bar you’ll notice the the laboratory-like Kyoto cylinders dripping their strong, syrupy cold brew. Or there’s the regular 15-hour Toddy cold brew. The baristas love talking about coffee here, so ask away. There’s also a wall of coffee paraphernalia that you can purchase to brew your own.
Highland Park, $$
Brothers Alex and Alan Morales (formerly of Handsome Coffee Roasters and Tiago Coffee Bar + Kitchen) got to know their HLP neighbors before their store even opened by giving away free coffee from a cart on the street. The coffee’s no longer free, but you won’t mind paying to sit in this exquisite little cafe to stare at the strikingly tiled floor, or to drink the cold brew, which is brewed from a rotation of single origin offerings. You really should try pairing it with that Avocado toast with shiitake “bacon.” Wow.
Arts District DTLA, $$
A tiny spot with no inside seating that prides itself on simplicity. Return time and time again for their simple menu, simply designed store, and straightforward process of nitrogen aeration to bring out a flavor-packed foaming cold brew that’s easily one of LA’s best. You can continue your caffeinated joy with a shop fest at Alchemy Works
next door — I shall always blame my post-Blacktop euphoria for that leather handbag purchase — or why not purchase a Blacktop cold brew exfoliating bar
so you can go home and lather yourself in the black gold?
Studio City, Brentwood, WeHo, Beverly Grove, Silver Lake, $$
Looking for a strong nitro brew? Follow those large antlers and you’ll find Alfred Coffee almost everywhere across the city. One of the more beautifully designed cafes around at present, no matter which location, Alfred is all bright stylish wallpaper, bold tiles and, of course, dynamic cold brew. Definitely worth checking out if you love a good dash of interior design with your coffee.
For Alfred's guide to Brentwood, see HERE
The cold brew at this somewhat lesser known spot is raved about right across town. With a 16 x 14 ft chalkboard covering one wall, Joe Coffee is also very fond of its local NoHo art scene. Every few months, they invite another artist to come and plant their vision across the cafe wall creating a bright and vibrant atmosphere to sip on your nitro, or vanilla bean, brew. Nestle into the comfy arm chairs up front and ponder why cozy seems to have been completely cut from the current third-wave scene.
Image courtesy of Verve Coffee Roasters
Belinda Gosbee is an Aussie writer, actress and most importantly, coffee snob, based in Los Angeles. She would like a nitrogen draft kegerator for christmas, please. Follow her jaunts on twitter @belindagosbee or instagram @gos22