Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

My visit to and review of Intelligentsia Venice

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

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February 23, 2010

This obviously has nothing to do with energy codes, but…

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I’m a bit of a espresso aficionado, starting most days with a short black from my Rancilio Silvia.  My first demitasse of espresso made correctly pretty much ruined my future visits to Starbucks or Coffee Bean for that matter.  After enjoying a well pulled shot of properly roasted and ground beans at the correct temperature you walk into Starbucks nursing a bit of a grudge.  For years I really thought that espresso was meant to be a dark, bitter, and jarring experience.  Last year the scales fell from my eyes and taste buds as I watched in amazement as the rich, tiger striped espresso flowed from the Silvia’s portafilter into my pre-warmed cup.  Light brown crema so thick you could almost float a quarter on it.  Wow!   Driving by Starbucks has little affect on me anymore.  I’ll wait until I get home, Silvia is waiting for me.

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But there are coffee houses I cannot drive by and Intelligentsia is one of them.  Since 2007 I’ll even go out of my way when I’m up in Los Angeles (our offices are in Irvine) and swing into Silver Lake to enjoy a Ristretto and pick up a pound of Black Cat at Intelligentsia’s Los Angeles outpost on Sunset.  Most of my clients however are on the west side of Los Angeles so I was very pleased to hear that Intelligentsia’s second coffee house had opened in Venice on Abbot Kinney.

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The Venice store rolled out a new concept that actually has to be experienced to be believed.  I came late in the afternoon and so found easy parking across the street.  There is no large obvious signage, just a simple coffee cup shape jutting out from the brick front.  The actual entrance is set back creating an open air courtyard that serves as the queuing area for the lines that do form in the peak times.  The space was designed by MASS Architecture, I recommend you take some time and really look at what they’ve done with the space.  A good vantage point is on top of the stadium seating built into the concrete at the rear of the store.  Once you enter you are greeted by your own personal barista who will take as much time as you want or need.

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My barista,  Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda, took my order (double shot of house roast La Tortuga, from Honduras) then served me a shot of palate cleansing sparkling mineral water.  He positioned a small saucer in front of me, stepped over to his two group Synesso machine and the show began.  There wasn’t a single misstep.  He dosed the grounds into the naked portofilter, leveled and tamped competition style, locked it into the grouphead and pulled the shot.  Twenty eight seconds later the goopy, dripping wonderfulness was shimmering in the pre-heated cup.  No sugar necessary.  Smooth, creamy, and a nice chocolate finish.

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This all might seem a little over the top when you read about it but the concept really does work.  If you are into making your own espresso at home it’s a great place brush up on your technique while watching the your barista at work.  I’ve learned very little at chain coffee houses as I watch their “barista’s” push the start button on their automatic machines and watch the coal tar drip into pre-chilled cups.  And the Venice location completes my goal of triangulating Los Angeles with quality coffee/espresso houses.  I now have Keane Coffee in Newport Beach (excellent espresso, well trained staff), Intelligentsia in Silver Lake and now in Venice.

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Here are the links:

Intelligentsia Silver Lake

Intelligentsia Venice

Kean Coffee Newport Beach

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– -Mark Madison

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Update:

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Ana Henton designing new Intelligentsia Coffee
to open in Pasadena this summer

February 22, 2010 |  9:05 am
CoffeeBetty Hallock recently reported on the Daily Dish blog that coffee-loving Pasadenians are rejoicing over the forthcoming arrival of a new Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea outlet, the third in the Los Angeles area.

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Design fans know that Intelligentsia coffeehouses have style as strong as their espresso, and this one surely will follow suit. Ana Henton of Mass Architecture & Design, who designed the Venice outlet, will be tackling the new site (exact location to be announced). Their Sunset Junction spot was designed by Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture.

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Mass Architecture & Design quickly became one of the hottest restaurant design outfits in town. Based in Silver Lake — across from an early client, Silver Lake Wine — the firm has left its stamp on the distinctive eatery spaces all around town, including Corkbar, Bacaro and Breadbar.

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For a look at some of Mass Architecture’s other projects, go to the jump.

CorkbarPhoto: The display, high above the bar inside downtown L.A.’s Corkbar. Photo credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

BacaroPhoto: Bacaro wine bar in West Adams. Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

BreadbarPhoto: Breadbar bakery on L.A.’s West 3rd Street. Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

— Lisa Boone

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