They say the Big Apple never sleeps, but here in Los Angeles, they say we roll out of bed at 10 a.m., set out a breakfast of kale and cold-pressed juice, then take out the dog for a hike at Runyon before we even get to work.
Ask the students of colleges and universities like UCLA, USC, Caltech, Pepperdine, Occidental, LMU, CSU Northridge and many others, and they'll be the first to tell you stereotypes are just that. These are Angelenos who know the meaning of work, cranking out essay pages well into third-shift hours.
With finals time for many of these students upon us, here are the ten best places to plug in, sip a strong cup of joe, have a nosh and focus, from a socialist café to an enchanted back-room forest to the luxury coffee shops of Koreatown.
10. Silverlake Reservoir
What sounds better than getting a tan while you crank out that essay? In the hills of Silver Lake you'll find a public park long known by locals to be among the most relaxing outdoor areas around. A typical weekend in Silverlake Meadow includes families on playdates, kids drinking wine and portraitists taking oil to canvas in the rolling grass, all overlooking the calming water of the reservoir. If you have to read hundreds of pages in a day and can't risk the temptation of an available Wi-Fi signal, why not lay back on a blanket or under a tree in the meadow and live out a fantasy only possible on our temperate shores? After all, kids on the East Coast are cooped up in libraries this time of year. It's 70 degrees out, there's nary a cloud in the sky, and a light breeze is a much healthier energy boost than any caffeinated soda concoction. When you head home for winter break, that healthy glow in your cheeks will say it for you: going to college in LA has it perks. Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake.
See also: 30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time
9. Café Tomo
House-roasted coffees, Spanish lattes, the renowned Tomo latte with condensed milk and fresh-baked pretzels — Café Tomo, off Sawtelle and Mississippi near Rancho Park, will blow your socks off with great food and drinks and its cute, relaxing environment. Parking is sparse, but Tomo offers cheap valet. Long wood tables and the smell of fresh-roasted beans inside will impart a buzz long before you sip their hand-crafted lattes. Plus, the trained baristas will create works of art in your foam, and if a cute teddy bear in your mug doesn't brighten your day, what will? 11309 Mississippi Ave., Sawtelle.
8. The Coffee Table
At The Coffee Table, Occidental students and Eagle Rock locals alike gather to catch up and hang out. The place is massive by coffee house standards, with five (five!) rooms full of tables and outlets, including an attached bar and lounge and a beautiful outdoor patio in the back. If you need to jam out an all-day paper or study session, this is an ideal place. A full kitchen and menu means never going hungry, full coffee bar means never dozing off, dozens of seats mean you'll never bump elbows with a neighbor, and the full bar means you can take the edge off with a drink when you're finished. 1958 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock.
Demitasse is a tiny Little Tokyo spot sporting a tagline that rings true: “Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks.” You won't get further from the coffee conglomerate than here. Come early and you can snag a glass of Kyoto iced coffee before it sells out — its brewing system meticulously drips water on grounds over the course of 24 hours. It's the slowest of slow brews, and the result is sublime coffee without the usual acidic aftertaste. But every drink here is made-to-order, and with a barista team that's drop-dead serious about your caffeine fix, Demitasse is a mecca for discerning coffee drinkers. As for cracking down into work, beautiful views of pristine Little Tokyo streets through this shop's windows provide a great, calming backdrop to pulling through an intense day of studying. Pull up a stool at the window bar and enjoy that cup of Little Tokyo's finest. 135 S San Pedro St., Little Tokyo.
6. UnUrban Café
Incense wafts throughout Santa Monica's UnUrban Café, which is covered in local art, open until midnight, offers a strong selection of pastries and sandwiches and a quasi-socialist vibe. Their motto is “Death Before Decaf,” and a sign reading “Corporations Are Not People” hangs behind the bar. Nightly performances showcase the bevy of offbeat talent on the west side. It's a bohemian paradise in the middle of Santa Monica, and that alone is reason enough to eschew big chains and embrace your tree hugging side. The found furniture is well-loved and the patrons all have stories–if you're looking for leather seats and a cold, straight-laced conglomerate café atmosphere, look elsewhere. If you're looking to make your final exams beg for mercy and need a place where people will excuse an unkempt appearance and occasional nodding off, you've just found paradise. 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica.
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
5. Powell Library
A little known fact about UCLA's Powell library in Westwood is that anyone can use it: “UCLA is a public institution,” its website says, “which means its Library collections are accessible to the people of the state of California, the nation, and the world.” With Powell's striking Romanesque architecture and vast open halls, it's a mission statement we can get behind. The Broxton Avenue public garage in Westwood offers cheap parking, with two hours free before 6 p.m. Powell gets crowded around finals, but with its enormous size you won't be searching for a seat most any other time of the year. If its towering archways, vaulted ceilings and an exterior that could be an Italian Church aren't too distracting, you'll get some serious work done, aided by the energy of one of the nation's best colleges that surrounds you. UCLA campus, Westwood.
4. Bricks and Scones
Bricks and Scones, near Larchmont and Beverly in mid-Wilshire, is notable for their drinks, sandwiches and scones (obviously), but as a place to get things done, it shines. You'll find areas to hunker down and stretch your legs, a secluded second floor, and seats near the front for people-watching. Outlets, wi-fi, tolerable noise levels, relaxing music and comfy chairs are this shop's main attraction, and the surplus of space makes for a great environment to study in a group. Two blocks away, on Arden Boulevard, you'll find plenty of all-day parking, and when you've hit your limit in the books, take a walk on Larchmont for a bit of shopping and dining. 403 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont.
3. Fix Coffee
Fix Coffee is a gem in the hills of Elysian Park, with a peaceful, quiet ambience that makes for a surprisingly great place to get away. The patio offers plenty of seating, outdoor outlets and a fire pit to keep you toasty. You'll find hip couples hanging out with their dogs and students digging into novels, with chirping birds and the serenity of being far, far away from a major street the perfect antidote to the stress of work. These baristas serve up mean pastries and strong coffee to boot–this is the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon, whether you're crunching for a final or just need to get away. 2100 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park.
2. Mr. Coffee
Tucked away mini-mall on Western and 6th Avenue, Mr. Coffee is open until 3 a.m. every night (and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.) Servers are quick to dish up refills and slices of gourmet cakes and pastries. K-Pop plays throughout, providing an upbeat soundtrack to the shop's laid-back vibe. Plus, Mr. Coffee doesn't disappoint when it comes to serving a strong, delicious mug of its namesake — this is some of the best coffee around. It's one of Koreatown's longest-lasting luxury coffee shops (but the renovated interior makes it feel brand new), and nothing sticks around in K-Town without good reason. 537 S Western Ave., Koreatown.
1. Bourgeois Pig
One of L.A.'s most unique cafés, Bourgeois Pig in Franklin Village boasts both a strong latte and a supremely cool environment. The service, drinks and food are excellent, it's open until 2 a.m., the baristas have great taste in music, and there's a pool table in the back for when you need a break to hone your game. The best part, however, is the enchanted forest room, complete with trees, an ivy-covered hut and a fake fire pit. Why not get your calculus on in a Peter Pan fantasyland? After all, just because you're working towards your master's degree doesn't mean you have to ever, ever grow up. 5931 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills.
See also: The 10 Best Coffee Shops in Los Angeles
Tyler Trykowski is an overworked Angeleno.
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