Coffee and the City: Los Angeles 洛城個性咖啡店

When talking about coffee, I can barely call myself a connoisseur. To me, drinking coffee is more like a sensual experience, rather than the technical analysis. Of course, the coffee beans, the way to brew coffee that contribute to the taste still matter. What I mean is, the interior design, ambience and every little detail in a cafe are equally important and a completion to the experience. Cafes can also been seen as a “phenomenon” in an everyday urban environment- they reflect a city’s lifestyle, and further characterize the urbanity. That’s why I love visiting cafes in different cities- it is a good way not only to discover the taste of gourmet, but also the personality and culture of the city that nourish these cafes.

在品嚐咖啡這件事上, 我稱不上是個行家. 對我來說, 喝咖啡最大的樂趣在於整體感官的享受, 那些技術性的學問反倒其次. 當然, 咖啡豆的選擇, 烘培方式等影響風味的變數當然重要, 只不過, 我認為咖啡館內部的設計, 整體氣氛以及店內每一個小細節的呈現, 都是同樣影響咖啡品嚐的要素. 咖啡店可被視為是都會生活中的一種現象, 他們反應城市的生活型態, 並反過來形塑城市的風格. 這也是為什麼我喜歡造訪不同城市的咖啡館, 因為不僅能品嘗到此城市的美食, 也是能藉以了解城市個性和文化的捷徑.

My recent stay in Los Angeles allows me to rediscover and discover different perspective on urbanity through my cafe experience. Los Angeles is well known for its inspiring arts and diverse cultural experiences. There are insane amount of coffee shops in this charismatic city and growing coffee culture to go with it. Below are few I have visited and impressing me in different aspects.

我最近的洛杉磯之旅, 就是一趟很棒的咖啡館體驗. 洛杉磯一向以啟發人心的藝術和多元文化聞名, 在這個個性都市裡, 有無數的咖啡館, 在茁壯的咖啡文化中誕生. 以下是幾個在這趟旅程中讓我印象深刻的幾家咖啡店:

GiorgiPorgi

Before we are physically in the store, I have learned from my friend that it’s a super dope place- the owner Giorgi only opens the shop whenever she wants. The shop is located in LA downtown- the neighborhood looks shabby, grungy and definitely not seem the most accessible area. No signs, names, banners, only a skinny door to the shop.  However, I fell in love with this cafe at the first glance! The interior design is very industrial and earthy- a huge moss wall/ceiling at the entrance, further down comes a simplistic coffee bar in a cement surrounding with neon ceiling design. There is no menu here. Either you know what you want, or the barista would ask you two questions- milk or no milk, hot or cold- and make the drink for you. The taste of coffee is not a wow but has been a high quality for me, not to mention that the creative cupwares elevate the whole experience! We had a good chat with the barista and it is a pure pleasure for me to just observe them making and serving beverages with a cool attitude! This is a very unique place and one of my most favorite in LA.

還沒造訪這家店前, 我就已經耳聞這是一家很酷的咖啡館. 它沒有固定的營業時間, 全憑老闆Giorgi心情決定. GiorgiPorgi 開設在洛杉磯市區, 這一帶外表看來破舊頹廢, 不是那種讓人想要沒事造訪停留的地方. 店門外沒有招牌或可辨識的標示, 只有一道細小的門 (如果你找得到的話) 引領你進入店內. 我對這家店可說是一見鐘情, 內部的裝修兼具工業風及粗獷的自然風味. 進門首先你會見到一整面延伸到天花板的苔蘚牆, 再深入會看到以水泥為基調的簡潔裝修, 及天花板的個性燈飾. 這家店沒有飲料單, 除非你直接點名想喝什麼, 否則咖啡師會問你兩個問題: 加不加奶, 熱飲或冷飲, 來幫你決定飲品. 我們點的咖啡, 風味雖然沒有太過驚艷, 質感卻一流, 加上店內特製咖啡杯的加持, 喝咖啡變成一種藝術饗宴. 兩位咖啡師打扮和風格都極有個性, 光看他們調製咖啡的身影就是一種享受. 這家獨一無二的咖啡店, 是我在洛杉磯的最愛之一.

Blue Bottle

My friend told me that Blue Bottle was the cafe for the hipsters and the fastest expanding one now not only in the US but also globally. I have to admit my bias after learning this debrief as being a trend follower is the least thing I want to do (my ego…!!) Perhaps it’s the best when one does not hold any expectation- I couldn’t find a precise word to describe how joyful and pleasantly surprised while drinking that look-so-normal Latte. That aroma and rich taste made my day and I couldn’t resist the temptation to go back for that wonderful experience!

The Blue Bottle I visited is at Playa Vista- it is very small, subtly decorated. However, altogether with the fantastic drink and super friendly baristas, it provides a relaxing, calm and sensual escape experience- more like a welcoming oasis in urban life. Sipping coffee in this setting makes me feel that life is beautiful for being simple!

我必須承認, 當我朋友告訴我藍瓶子是目前洛杉磯最熱門, 也在美國及海外擴展最快的咖啡店時, 身為一個自詡不盲從潮流的自大狂, 我心中即刻有了一些偏見. 或許有時不抱期待是件好事, 當我喝下第一口那杯賣相一般的熱拿鐵後, 那心中的狂喜和驚訝簡直無法用言語表達. 那股香味和濃郁的口感照亮了我一天的心情, 也讓我魂牽夢縈許久.

我去的藍瓶子在Playa Vista. 那家店小而美, 裝潢簡潔 ,加上完美的飲品及超級友善的咖啡師, 讓店內充滿著安靜閒適的氛圍, 猶如可讓人暫忘俗世的伊甸園. 在這樣的環境下一邊啜飲我的咖啡, 一邊心想, 簡單果然還是最好的.

Stumptown

It is my friend’s most favorite in LA in terms of the taste of coffee. I have to confess that I was too full to have anything when visiting this cafe. Still, I cannot forego this cafe for its other attractiveness to me. The Portland-based shop (FYI: everyone tells me that Portland is famous for its being weird. I assume that means characteristic!) is located in an art district. Before entering the shop, I smell the cool personality already by seeing the signage “WE WELCOME ALL…you’re SAFE here” and a punk customer sitting at the front door. The interior has an urban warehouse vibe yet the the decoration and baristas are laid-back and friendly. I only realized that they also serve unusual pastries- Kimchi croissant, Miso butter scotch cookies- after leaving. It is definitely my biggest regret for not being able to save some space in stomach for them!

這家店的咖啡, 是我朋友在洛杉磯的最愛. 其實那天我因為太飽無法再點任何飲食, 所以並沒有一手的品嚐心得分享. 還是決定介紹這家店, 主要是因為它有些地方挺吸引我的.  Stumptown由波特蘭起家 (所有的人都說波特蘭以怪出名, 我猜是指那裡的人很有個性吧!) 這家店座落在洛杉磯的文藝區, 本身也相當有個性, 比方說, 門口有個小招牌寫著: 我們歡迎所有人, 不論你的種族, 宗教, 國籍, 性向, 在這裡都很安全.  內部的裝潢帶種都會倉庫那種酷調, 但是擺設和店員卻又友善和溫暖的不得了. 離開那家店之後, 我才發現原來他們的糕餅很有創意. 比方說, 有泡菜口味的可頌, 味噌奶油蘇格蘭餅等等. 沒能預留肚子品嚐, 真讓我悔恨不堪.

Intelligentsia

It is a household name in LA when it comes to high-end coffee: they buy their beans directly from farmers around the world. From the line queuing outside the shop, one can already tell that it is a hipster place. To me, this cafe has a strong attitude – from the laid-back seating outside, industrial chic interior, the open space concept, knowledgeable baristas who are proud of their craft, and the spectacular view with almost everyone working in front of laptop.  Coffee is definitely impeccable here ( I can still remember the WOW on my first taste!), which attracts quite many coffee snobs here. That could be the reason why the baristas could sometimes look austere to customers who don’t know coffee well, according to my friend. If that’s true, I would say it is a perfect integral part of the cool style to this shop.

在洛杉磯說到高品質的咖啡, 就不能不提Intelligentsia. 據說, 他們是直接向全球咖啡農購買高品質的咖啡豆. 從店外每天大排長龍不難看出這家店熱門的程度. 這是一家相當有態度的咖啡館, 門外長條椅讓你可慵懶的坐在那裡欣賞繽紛的壁畫和美麗的陽光, 內部裝潢呈現簡練工業風, 完全開放的空間, 以烘培技術和豐富咖啡知識自豪的咖啡師, 以及店內手提電腦一字排開的壯觀景象. 這裡的咖啡風味無懈可擊, 第一次嘗到時那種悸動的心情至今難忘, 因此店內也匯聚不少專業的咖啡控. 可能如此, 據說咖啡門外漢可能會被咖啡師白眼. 假如傳說是真的, 我認為那簡直是這家咖啡店風格的完美詮釋.



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