Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Cafe Hounding: The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa – Culver City, CA

10117 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA
www.conservatorycoffeeandtea.com

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My long-time friend and her husband who had lived in Los Angeles in the past few years had suggested to me several times about The Conservatory in Culver City. Finally I had a chance to visit this coffee house on Halloween Day. Upon arrival in this coffee house, you will be greeted with piles of green beans from all over the world. Then you will see the roaster right there next to the seating area, which I thought it was very cool. Although I expected slow customer traffic as it was a weekend plus Halloween, there were quite a lot of people coming during more than an hour that I was there. There were plenty of tables inside and outside the cafe so seating didn’t seem to be a problem.

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I ordered a large latte and it was prepared for me by Ingrid, who turned out to be a daughter of the owner. My latte was prepared from the house espresso blend, which consisted of Brazilian and Sumatra beans. Surprisingly, it had strong body but not too muddy as what I would expect from Sumatra. This was great as I am personally not a big fan of strong, dark roasted coffee. The latte art was also beautiful.

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Ingrid was very friendly and told me about this place while preparing my latte. The Conservatory is a family business and has been operating for over 15 years. At least one of the family members is always at the cafe when it is open. They also have quite a large selection of tea leaves. If you are hungry, some pastries are available as well.

The location of the cafe is great. It is in downtown Culver City on Washington Blvd, just a couple of blocks from a bunch of the city’s trendy restaurants and theaters. From my past experience visiting Culver City, street parking in this area is not a big problem as well (although I was very lucky to get a spot right in front of the cafe this time).

Overall, The Conservatory is a great place to have coffee drinks or to purchase coffee beans. If you look for a “neighborhood” cafe around West LA that you can relax and escape a bit from the notoriously pretentious LA environment, you may find this lovely coffee house a place you want to revisit again.

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Cafe Hounding: Intelligentsia Coffee – Venice

Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea – Venice Coffeebar

1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
310.399.1233
http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com

Entrance on Abbot Kinney

Entrance on Abbot Kinney

Last month West LA welcomed a new coffeebar as the famous Intelligentsia Coffee opened its second cafe in LA area in Venice. Since learning this news, I have been looking forward to checking this newbie out and finally had a chance today. As mentioned in another post that I first got into gourmet coffee thanks to Intelligentsia, it is natural that my first cafe hounding is indeed on this newest Intelligentsia baby.

Entrance hallway with seating on the side

Entrance hallway with seating on the side

Although all of intelligentsia coffee bars maintain the same high standard on their coffee drinks, each is quite unique. The Venice cafe speaks out loud the LA-style of living. The decoration is very hip, modern, and industrial. The service is very personal. Upon arrival at the cafe on Abbot Kinney, you will walk pass a metal gate and enter the hallway to the main atrium. You are greeted by a staff who then accompanies you to one of the four coffee stations located in the middle of the atrium. You order your drink, pay, watch your beverage prepared while enjoying a conversation with the barista. Finally, you can take your drink to seating areas around the atrium or back at the entrance hallway. They also have a limited selection of pastries provided.

From hallway to atrium

From hallway to atrium

I visited the cafe in an early evening on Wednesday and was taken care by Laura. I ordered a small latte ($3.75). Like baristas at other Intelligentsia coffeebars, Laura  did a great job on my latte. She used their signature Black Cat Blend for my latte, which tasted and smelt quite strong. The latte art was beautiful. I got what I expected. No complain about the drink. Laura was also very friendly and obviously knew about coffee and how to make it good.

Latte

I chose the seat in the hallway. Seating was ample when I was there although I doubted if it could accommodate customers during busy hours. The place, however, is not ideal if you would like to work with your laptop. The seating in the hallway is built in steps like those in sport stadium, with few small tables. It is fine for socializing, but less than ideal for studying. The atrium has enough light for readling, however. It also has limited space with desks and access to electrical outlets. I did not bring my laptop with me, but free wifi seemed to work on my iPhone (unless I stole the signal from the neighbor!).

Atrium

Atrium with coffee stations

The big problem that might make me think twice before revisiting this location is parking. I was very lucky to get a spot right in front of the cafe. But from my past experience frequenting Abbot Kinney’s restaurant row, the probability of being that fortunate could be less than one percent. Well, at least it will remind me of similar experience I had back in Chicago when I visited the Broadway store. How could I complain!?!

— Kris Hound