There are some neighborhoods where Turkish coffee is easier to find than an out of work actor. Santa Monica isn't one of them. At Flying Saucers, owner Ryan Morris, 33, makes excellent Turkish coffee, the old-school way.
Ground with cardamom, cinnamon and other spices until it's so fine it's like dust, the brew is served unfiltered. Don't stir. This is a ritual that requires patience. Let it settle as it forms a muddy layer at the bottom of your demitasse cup. Fortunately, Flying Saucers is the kind of café where patrons like to linger.
Despite opening during the pit (we hope) of the economic recession, Morris has made a go of it, celebrating the Santa Monica café's one-year anniversary this past Saturday.
A painter, a former Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf manager and a UFO enthusiast (he runs the site UFORadar.com), Morris moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco in 2004 and felt the ache for a proper coffeehouse. "In LA, we have all sorts of writers and creative types with flexible schedules," Morris says. "We have the perfect culture for coffeehouses, but there aren't many good ones."
The décor at Flying Saucers, complete with wooden beams crossing the high ceiling and an exposed brick wall, which Morris discovered only after backing a forklift into the drywall during remodeling, is charming. The ambiance is mellow and unpretentious. The space also doubles as an art gallery, showcasing works from local artists (including Morris himself), which rotate on a monthly basis. "Because I make money on the coffee, I can take bigger risks on the art. And my cut is less than most galleries would take," Morris says.
On any given day, Morris is likely to be working behind the counter. Find him and he's happy to discuss anything from the North Carolina sewer monster to the best coffee beans.
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"We use organic, free-trade beans from Supreme Bean. I tried Intelligentsia, Groundwork, everywhere. These are the best," Morris says.
Plus, Flying Saucers serves arguably the best almond croissant in town. It's made by Santa Monica bakery Le Pain Du Jour, which also provides all the bread the café uses to make their sandwiches.
A couple doors down from Vidiots on Pico Blvd., Flying Saucers is hardly hidden from view, but with its excellent Cuban and Turkish coffees and its quality pastry selection, it remains sadly under-appreciated.
Flying Saucers Café: 306 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 868-8361