music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Just Do It, Part 1

No, I’m not talking about Tiger Woods’ motto for living life, but the inescapable fact that things are happening out there and you have to take advantage of them before they go away. So suspend your NetFlix account, turn off your television, get in your car and celebrate the new year with a few of these ideas.

First things first. Coffee.

Not one, but three…wait, make that four new places to satisfy your caffeine addiction. Three are in downtown LA (hey, I’ve been working there for the last three months!), one in Pasadena and one more in Silverlake. Here we go:

Urth Caffé
451 South Hewitt Street, on Hewitt and 5th, in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles.

Housed in an old egg factory and part of the current downtown Renaissance, this place has it all with an especially friendly staff, exceptional organic coffee and plenty of dangerous desserts. The funky neighborhood-turned-lofty is a perfect setting for getting your fix day or night.

108 West 2nd Street

Another organic coffee resource with several locations. The 2nd Street café is the one closest to the Music Center and although I visited only once, the coffee was excellent. The counter staff is a little disorganized and not as together as at Urth Caffe, but the beans (Lucky Jack) I brought back to the orchestra pit to be brewed by our in house coffee bitcharista, Kenny Wild, were incredibly flavorful. Maybe next time we’ll try the aptly named Bitches Brew, their darkest roast.

Prime Grind
714 West 1st Street

Just across Hope Street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in a small shopping center on the ground floor of one of LA’s earliest downtown residences, Prime Grind is without a doubt my favorite convenient downtown coffee hangout. A long narrow room with work from local artists on the walls, the staff at PG know how to make the perfect espresso and a lot more. Perfect, as in taste…and perfectly made every single time. A lot of LA Opera musicians can be seen there juicing up before those 4 ½ hour marathons they play. Oh…and the gelato is an accompaniment without compare.

Jameson-Brown Roasters
260 N. Allen Avenue in Pasadena (just south of the 210 freeway)

I’d been passing this shop for months wondering about it until I stopped in after dropping my daughter off at ballet class just down the street. A funky hang in a community-cum-living-room makes me feel like I’m not in LA but maybe somewhere in northern Wisconsin. They roast their own, and while the service may be on the slow side, the finished coffee drink is one of the best in Pasadena.

LaMill Coffee at 1636 Silver Lake Boulevard is an amazing coffee and tea lovers paradise. Along with good food, they offer coffee via several methods of extraction. Yes, I said extraction…this place is serious. Choose the Chemex method and your personal coffee brewmaster will hang out at your table until the nectar is finished cycling through the filter. This is the connoisseur’s coffee nirvana and it’s well worth taking a detour to experience. Can’t say enough about it!

January 31, 2010 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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