Frank Lloyd Wright (might have) said that if you tip the world on its side, everything loose will land in L.A. And if you tip L.A. on its side, everything loose will land in coffee shops on weekday afternoons. So if you’re feeling at loose ends yourself, you probably should head to Echo Park, where the concentration of great coffee shops is as high as the rent these days and any given midday is lit like Thursday night in a college town.
But with so many coffee shops in such a small area, things can get a little overwhelming. Which one is best for writing the screenplay that’s going to revive the Western, and which is best for writing the screenplay that’s going to reinvent the rom-com? Which coffee shop has the chillest vibes, and which plays the raddest tunes? Where can you get the smoothest coffee milkshake, and whose espresso has the most eye-opening bite? Well, look no further than the end of this page, friends, because here, presented in alphabetical order, is your Echo Park coffee shop guide.
If you had to build a modern third-wave coffee shop in your head, you probably would end up with something resembling Echo Park’s Andante. The walls are white, the space is airy with lots of natural light, there’s a dash of wood and some cacti for accents, and the vibe is friendly but quiet. They roast their own beans in Koreatown and both their espresso drinks and pourovers are excellent, and there’s a decent roster of teas and some expensive juice if that’s your thing, too.
2201 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 568-3099, andantecoffeeco.com.
If you had to build a modern third-wave coffee shop in your head, you probably would end up with something resembling Echo Park’s Blue Bottle. The walls are white, the space is airy with lots of natural light, there’s plenty of wood and brick for accents, and the vibe is friendly and hip. They roast their own beans in the Arts District and both their espresso drinks and pourovers are excellent, though they really excel in cold brew, either black or served New Orleans style with milk, sugar and chicory, if that’s your thing. Sound a touch formulaic? Well, so does your novel, bro.
1712 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 621-4194, bluebottlecoffee.com/cafes/echo-park.
If you had to build a modern third-wave coffee shop in your head, there is no way you’d end up with Chango. Chango is small and dark and a little cluttered, with an actual permanent menu of eggs and sandwiches. But there is a reason that it feels different — Chango is one of Echo Park’s older coffee shops, a harbinger of the caffeinated hurricane to come, literally blasting neighborhood history off of the walls around it. And now, some 12-ish years on, Chango feels like a staple, the kind of place where you run into your neighbors, cozy and comfortable and a little out-of-date. Funny how that happens.
1559 Echo Park Ave.; (213) 977-9161, changoechopark.com.
The stretch of Sunset east of the newly renamed Vin Scully Avenue has been slower to develop than the rest of Echo Park. Even the opening of Guisados didn’t make those blocks feel quite like the center of the action, but with the addition of Eightfold it may be turning the corner. Eightfold is beautiful, a gleaming white box outfitted entirely in right angles, from the cubic tables to the severely straight benches and the tiered coffee counter. The space is immaculate, and the coffee is brewed to the same exacting standards — drinks are strong and sharp and consistent and pretty, and if you have half of those qualities yourself, well, I’m jealous.
1294 Sunset Blvd.; eightfoldcoffee.com.
Fix was born a small coffee shop, with a rectangular bar inside and a smattering of picnic tables out front. It was a quiet spot with good coffee, friendly faces and no cellphone service in a mostly residential section of the neighborhood. And then, not too long ago, it underwent a facelift, and when it emerged from a cocoon of construction, Fix was … mostly the same, actually, but with legitimately good and satisfying food. There is still an air of easiness about the place, the kind of environment that is conducive to just about any endeavor you decide to undertake, whether you’re interviewing for a job, dropping in for a quick snack, collaboratively remixing a Rihanna song with your buddy, listening to someone else interview for a job or writing an article about the endeavors you could undertake at Fix. And, most shocking of all, there’s still no cell reception.
2100 Echo Park Ave.; (323) 284-8962, fixcoffeeco.com.
It has been said that creative success requires equal parts inspiration and concentration, and at the Semi-Tropic you can get liquids that’ll give you both sides of that aphorism that I just made up. By day it is a fashionably appointed coffee shop, dimly lit with some tropical flora and a nice list of interesting coffee drinks. The vibe is trendy but not stiff, and maybe that’s because of the other half of the Semi-Tropic’s operation — it also serves alcohol. As the afternoon wears on and the energy boost from your very fine cortado starts to fade, it’s easy to make a smooth transition into a glass of wine or a craft beer, trading out some concentration for a burst of liquid inspiration. And if you find enough inspiration, maybe you’ll discover your own fake recipe for creative success.
1412 Glendale Blvd.; (213) 568-3827, thesemitropic.com.
Even the bookstores are coffee shops in Echo Park these days. In addition to an excellent selection of reading material, Stories also has a lovely little patio out back, perfect for a quiet conversation or an extended bit of laptop noodling. There is shade and Wi-Fi and it’s usually not crowded, so access to power outlets is easy to acquire, which makes it a very tempting long-term option. The food is good and so is the coffee, and there may be no better way to clear your head and get motivated than a quick stroll through the shelves. Support your local bookstore!
1716 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 413-3733, storiesla.com.
Taza is frequently overlooked, perhaps because it is quite literally easy to do — it’s a tiny shop on a quick-moving part of Sunset, right across from the Echo and a couple doors west of Xoia and El Prado. It may also be overlooked because it serves a somewhat different purpose than many of the other coffee shops in the area; there’s no seating inside and just a couple small tables outside, so you’ll probably have to write your viral web series elsewhere. If, however, you’re just in need of a good old-fashioned caffeine kick, Taza's coffee is great and affordable, with plenty of interesting flavor options, and the vibe may be the friendliest around.
1825 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 568-3419.
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The brewed coffee is very good at Tierra Mia, roasted in-house in small batches. Yet if you look around, on almost every table, next to almost every laptop or phone or tablet or notebook or book-book, there’s an ice-blended, whipped cream–topped coffee drink creation. And it’s that way for good reason — Tierra Mia’s blended drinks are amazing, from the horchata frappe to the Coco Loco and beyond. They are a real treat, sweet and fun without quite reaching full-guilt milkshake status. The space is pretty and simple, a nice place to linger, but the delicious drinks are even better suited to a lazy afternoon on the banks of nearby Echo Park Lake.
1202 N Alvarado St.; (213) 483-3955, tierramiacoffee.com.
The competition is tough, but Woodcat might be the most beautifully decorated space in Echo Park. Every piece is perfect for the vintage motorcycle–meets–airy loft aesthetic, from the narrow bar and dark metal table to the bright red accent wall and cool but decidedly uncomfortable rough-hewn wood stools. There are tons of gorgeous little details, too, such as bags of coffee on wood shelves, rusted motorcycle parts and a little plant on a big speaker. The espresso from San Francisco’s Wrecking Ball is among the best in the neighborhood, bright and acidic and well suited to either a shot or a milky drink, and the pastries from Sugarbloom are delicious and unique. With all of the interesting things in the shop, from people to drinks to awkwardly square seating, there may be no better place to get distracted, to shift your weight from side to side, to procrastinate in style.
1532 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 537-0147, woodcatcoffee.com.