The shopping and design destination’s four coffee spots prompt the question, is L.A. the best coffee city in the U.S.?
If you’ve been to The Row in the Fashion District, you might have sunk your teeth into a Spam musubi at Smorgasburg or eyed local, beautifully-made furniture at the LA Design Fest. Maybe you noshed on a morning bun at the expansive Tartine or stood for hours on end to procure a high-end handbag at a Clare V. sample sale. All of this is to say that The Row, which exists as a kind of island in the east end of the Fashion District, is a destination. The 4,000-space parking structure not only facilitates this but physically manifests a fortress-like feel with the help of the abandoned American Apparel warehouse nearby.
Now, there’s yet another reason to head to The Row: coffee. Lots of it — in fact, the space recently welcomed their fourth coffee shop. If it were any other space at a former time, it’d easily be considered an oversaturation, but instead, it marks how coffee culture among Angelenos continues to evolve with high-volume and seasonal coffee roasting. Here’s where coffee drinkers can get their fix:
Coffee is served at not one but three separate stations throughout Tartine and The Manufactory, the long-anticipated space which houses two restaurants, a retail market, a large-capacity bakery and a roastery — all in all, a behemoth taking up 40,000 square feet. Whether at The Market, the Alameda Supper Club or at the pop-up window, you’ll be served hot, fresh roasts. In-house baristas are currently stoked about the La Marzocco KB90, the first espresso machine of its kind in the city.
Their large-capacity coffee roastery is built around a refurbished 1961 120-kilogram Probat roaster that outputs 130,000 kilograms per week. In contrast, most others max out at 30,000 kilograms or less.
“It was so big we couldn’t get it in through any of the doors, so we had to cut out the floor to drop it into the lower level — 18 inches of concrete we cut through,” says Chris Jordan, Coffee Manufactory’s chief operating officer.
Try their signature drink, the morning bun latte, which is made using crumbs from unsold morning buns soaked in milk, imparting it with subtle orange and cinnamon notes. Pair it with one of their freshly baked croissants or a galette from their stellar pastry selection. You won’t want to miss the Ice Cream + Coffee Window. Their offerings often incorporate flavors like hojicha, a roasted Japanese green tea — perfect alone or for swirling.
Looking to learn more about coffee? Show up at The Market, The Manufactory’s “pantry,” at 10 a.m. on a Thursday for a coffee cupping class and join industry novices and experts alike.
The Go Get Em Tiger storefront at The Row in downtown Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Go Get Em Tiger.
Go Get Em Tiger
Last month saw the opening of Go Get Em Tiger’s fifth location, the prolific L.A.-based coffee shop originally launched by Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski in 2012.
“The coolest thing about L.A. is that there are so many disparate pieces that have come around in the coffee scene,” Babinski says. “Coffee culture around here is thriving for that reason. I think L.A. is the best coffee city in the U.S. and even one of the top three cities in the world.”
Go Get Em Tiger at The Row features exclusive menu items not found at their other locations. Photos courtesy of Go Get Em Tiger.
For its newest iteration at The Row, Go Get Em Tiger has unveiled an expanded menu featuring ricotta granola pancakes and breakfast polenta, as well as a dedicated tasting counter for coffee and tea and even guest chef pairings.
“We wanted to use The Row opening to try to elevate and try new things,” Babinski says. “The ideas that work here will make it to other shops.”
They’ve also updated their drinks menu. Still present are their macadamia nut milk options, like the turmeric almond macadamia, that remain a Go Get Em Tiger favorite, as well as coffee from their roastery in Vernon. Tasty pastries and espresso soft serve also make a stop at Go Get Em Tiger a must.
Café Dulce “Dulce Dos”
Cafe Dulce was The Row’s first tenant — opening as a pop-up in 2012, then signing a lease in 2013. Occupying 400 square feet inside the high-ceilinged, concrete-lined, free WiFi-equipped lobby, “Dulce Dos” serves up specialty, Asian-inspired drinks and Heart coffee from Portland.
Their signature Dulce Latte is a mellowed out version of Vietnamese coffee — made with condensed milk, milk of choice and pulled espresso — and reflective of owner James Choi’s favorite beverage while growing up.
“I’ve always loved Vietnamese coffee growing up through high school and as a college kid,” Choi says. “I thought it was delicious, so when we started a coffee shop, I asked, ‘Why don’t people serve it?’ So we did.”
Options also include the Masala chai, Hong Kong milk tea and blueberry matcha lattes. Insider tip: Their breakfast burrito, first created at Café Dulce’s Little Tokyo location, went from coveted staff meal to their most popular food menu item for a reason.
Patrons at Paramount Coffee Project at The Row in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District. Photo courtesy of Paramount Coffee Project.
Paramount Coffee Project
While Paramount Coffee Project (PCP) hails from Sydney, Australia, the Row location is their second Los Angeles outpost and since there’s only one storefront Down Under, perhaps, then, it’s more accurate to consider PCP an L.A. business. The coffee outpost roasts the beans themselves and usher in partnerships with many different roasters, showcasing a variety of beans with the mindset that coffee, too, is seasonal.
“It’s a crop,” co-founder Mark Dundon says, “and [coffee] doesn’t happen at one time of the year. This time of year we’ll brew coffee from Central America, harvested in January, then we have Africa and Kenya coming. Burundi is a little later in the year.”
Ria Dolly Barbosa manages the transpacific PCP menus and incorporates approachable Filipino influences to her daytime menu. While brunch options are popular at the Fairfax location, grain bowls, salads and dishes with out-of-the-box flavors — such as their adobo braised beef bowls — are the most requested at The Row.
“On the Eastside, people are a little bit more veggie-focused and adventurous, so that’s informed how we approach the menu,” Barbosa says.