Indie Coffee Shops to Perch & Work
There’s something singularly compelling about a great coffee shop—particularly when you’re trying to pound out an overdue novel/screenplay/thesis/PowerPoint something. The presence of other procrastinators, the really good coffee, the ambient buzz of community are inherently appealing. It’s not all that surprising that the number of work-friendly cafés is constantly on the rise, so we’ve updated our guide to reflect the latest and greatest spots in ten major cities, whether you drop in for quick macchiato or set up shop for the afternoon. (We’ve noted when they don’t offer internet, a blessing for those who can’t get off email. You know who you are.)
Bar Nine3515 Helms Ave., Culver City | 310.837.7815
This hidden gem in Culver City serves up great iced coffee in appropriately hipster glass jars. It's a great spot for a meeting, as there's plenty of bar space and even some room at standing bars, but it's an especially great find if you're the type who likes to spread out: There's an enormous table in the back that provides plenty of space to stack and organize papers. It also has a partnership with Highland Park’s Amara Kitchen, which means that you can get their incredible grain-free pancakes (made with pasture-raised eggs and flax butter and served with whipped, dairy-free maple butter)—along with selections from the curated brunch menu, like the "purple egg pot" and the sweet potato taco—on the Westside every day of the week.
Bricks & Scones403 N. Larchmont Blvd., Hancock Park | 323.463.0811
Thanks to ample comfy seating, speedy Wi-Fi, and a low-key vibe, this two-story coffeehouse is perpetually buzzing with laptop-wielding students, writers, and freelancers. The upstairs study serves as a dedicated no-talking room with individual desks and reading lamps. Meanwhile, the mini library, which operates on a take one/give one system, is a great option if you're looking for a nice spot to curl up with a good book. The menu ticks off all mandatory study-food boxes: sandwiches, scones, and enough inventive coffee drinks to sate all of USC.
Document Coffee Bar3850 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown
The sea of outlets and rows of tables with plastic chairs lend this K-town spot a high school cafeteria feel, but in a way that's weirdly conducive to getting focus-heavy tasks out of the way. Order the Document Cold, a maple-syrup-spiked cold brew reminiscent of New Orleans chicory coffee. Make sure to take a breather and look around, the whitewashed space also serves as a gallery.
Deus Ex Machina1001 Venice Blvd., Venice | 888.515.3387
It's easy to miss Deus when driving down Lincoln Boulevard as it looks like a garage—albeit a pretty slick one—rather than a sweet coffee shop. This is fitting, since you can buy a custom-made motorcycle, a leather jacket, and a latte in one fell swoop. Seating is limited, but the outdoor communal table and indoor charmingly lived-in couch, coupled with an awesome soundtrack, get the job done.
Funnel Mill930 Broadway, Santa Monica | 310.393.1617
The people at Santa Monica's Funnel Mill are serious about ambiance: There are live plants, couches, communal tables, window seating, and a strict no-phones-allowed policy if you want to hang—all good things for getting stuff done in peace. Most drinks are made to order using ancient techniques, which require various beakers, siphons, and crazy-looking butane systems. Yes, you'll have to wait a bit for your single-estate organic or biodynamic coffee, Indian chai, or personal pot of white, green, or red tea. Feeling baller? Try the $75 Esmeralda Especial.
LAMILL Coffee1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake | 323.663.4441
It's fitting that LAMILL is set up on Silver Lake Boulevard, i.e., the epicenter of LA's freelance culture. Grab a table in the dining room, which, with its leather banquette, artsy wallpaper, and glitzy chandeliers, looks like it belongs to a fancy restaurant rather than a coffee shop. There's a full menu of toasts, soups, and salads as well as an oft-replenished fresh pastry case. Baked goods and décor aside, the quality of the coffee (roasted on-site) comes first. Stop by the tiny gift shop next door if you're in need of a last-minute hostess gift.
Verve Coffee Downtown833 S. Spring St., Downtown
These guys are actually based in Santa Cruz, but they recently expanded into Los Angeles with two locations—on Spring Street in the Arts District and, most recently, on Melrose in West Hollywood. No matter which location you pick, you'll find reliable internet and plenty of seating housed in a sleek, urban-feeling space. Verve also practices direct trade with the farmers who source their coffee beans—an important (and very difficult to execute) practice that allows them to exceed fair-trade minimums when they pay farmers for their goods.
Alfred8428 Melrose Place, West Hollywood
Now six locations strong and growing quickly, Alfred is quickly taking over LA's coffee scene, making it a definite favorite for screenwriters and freelancers during the week. We like this location best, as it shares its space with an adorably tiny Compartes shop in the back. If you’re feeling indulgent, ask for the famous off-menu Alfred cone—a macchiato served in a chocolate-covered ice cream cone that tastes just as good as it sounds. There is kombucha on tap, as well. There are also locations in Brentwood, Silver Lake, Beverly Hills, Studio City, and across the street in the alley off Melrose Avenue.
Assembly634 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood | 424.245.4954
It has to be said: Assembly has the best iced almond latte in the city (and that's coming from some serious almond latte addicts). The interior is gorgeous—the bar is backed with a sleek and light wood-paneled design, with artfully placed shelves displaying coffee, gifts, and other knickknacks. The internet here is really fast and plugs are accessible, but there are only two tables, so you'll have to arrive early to grab a spot. If you're just coming for a meeting, benches and small tables are a lot easier to come by.
Fix Coffee2100 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park | 323.284.8962
Deep in Echo Park, this spot is hidden in a residential neighborhood, meaning it's protected from the overwhelming hustle and bustle that plagues most other coffee shops in this part of town. There's a lovely outdoor patio with shaded and unshaded space and (rare for an outdoor space) tons of outlets. Another great thing about this café is its considerable food and drink menu, which allows you to camp out for the whole day and have something to subsist on other than coffee and pastries. Plus, you can transition to after-work drinks without giving up your table.
Coffee Commissary6087 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
With four LA locations, you can count on this reliable coffee shop to be nearby no matter where you are. It's a very popular spot for work and study, which means it's used to having laptops—it also plays a work-friendly soundtrack. Some locations have larger food menus than others, so make sure to check the website if you're hoping to stick around for lunch. In the coffee department, Coffee Commissary brings in a different guest roaster every few weeks, which mixes things up a bit. There are also locations in Burbank, West Hollywood, and Culver City.
Intelligentsia1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice | 310.399.1233
Intelligentsia is really the quintessential hipster LA coffee shop—and we get why. Tables and bar seats are usually available at all the well-designed locations, and there's a smattering of great baked goods, as well as some home goods for sale. At both the Venice and Silver Lake locations, the outlets are as abundant as the man buns. There's also an outpost in Pasadena.
The Semi-Tropic1412 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park | 213.568.3827
By day, this Echo Park hangout is a café where patrons curl up on leather sofas with books and laptops, sipping coffee and ordering salads packed with veggies and grains or comforting bowls of tomato soup with toasted sourdough. Once early evening hits, though, it transforms into a jam-packed bar and restaurant, where locals stop in for the popular happy hour and huge cocktail list.
Stories1716 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park | 213.413.3733
Stories is Echo Park’s much-loved local bookstore, but what most people don’t realize is that behind all the books is a tiny café (and a good one, at that). We love escaping here for the quiet—the stacks and stacks of haphazardly arranged tomes soak up all the street noise. The tables are filled with other studious folks tapping away on computers or reading through screenplays, so there’s not much chatter. You can sit here for hours munching through the pastry selection without being disturbed.