My initial experience with Intelligentsia Coffee was at a San Diego restaurant that brewed their beans. I really liked the coffee, but at the time had no understanding that this Chicago based roaster is a powerhouse in the coffee community I eventually looked them up and realized they had plenty of locations in the LA area, so a trip was planned.
First time i visited intelligentsia was at the Venice Beach location. I was enamored with this place. As soon as you walk in you have this beautiful metal door. Inside the shop, everything is just sleek, elegant, and fascinating. After you order is taken you can just watch the baristas hard at work and you quickly realize these are passionate people that love coffee. Since then, I’ve visited a few of their other locations each truly different from each other, but always with that Intelligentsia flair.
As you would expect this shop caters to a purist palette sticking to a very traditional espresso menu, while also providing some trendier options like cold brew and mochas. Across their espresso menu, I’ve tried most of their items and you will find that there is always a very high level of consistency and balance. Currently they are using “Black Cat Classic” for their espresso drinks which is strong and full bodied.
The two winners for me on my last trip a few weeks ago were the Iced Mocha and their matcha croissant. I brought a friend along for this coffee trip and she introduced me to this two AMAZING menu options. The chocolate that they use for their Mocha is rich, but not overpowering and work extremely well with their espresso. A great compliment to this drink was the matcha croissant, all the buttery goodness topped with this delicious white chocolate matcha topping.
Their locations in LA are on the smaller side, so keep that in mind if you are planning to sit down and enjoy your coffee. If you are looking to hang out for a while, check out their Pasadena location which has a bit more sitting. Be sure to check them out and let me know your thoughts!
Purist scale: 5 sips out of 5
Decor: 4 sips out of 5
Location: 4.5 sips out of 5
Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, & Boston
Intelligentsia has been around for about 21 years and has grown and developed to be more than just coffee bars. Their offering now encompass roasting works and training labs built and shaped to be distinct while resonating within the Intelligentsia brand.