Question: We drink coffee in Los Angeles, lots of it. I’m drinking some right now. In fact, Los Angeles is a better coffee town than New York, and is almost certainly a better coffee town than other United States cities I could name. We drink half of Guatemala each year, it seems like. But the freeway shoulders are still littered with Peets brown and Starbucks green — it makes me want to scream! Isn’t there a Great Los Angeles Coffee? Can’t we come up with something as emblematic as a half-caf latte or even a Greek-blue paper cup that shouts Happy To Serve You? Please, where? —Amanda, Mar Vista Answer: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a Los Angeles–based chain, and the cult of the Vanilla Ice Blended has spread over half of Asia — as well as into the Frappuccino blenders of Starbucks, no doubt, but that’s a different story. There may be no activity more Angeleno than people-watching from a table at one of the many fine Coffee Beans in town, unless it is people-watching from a table at the celebrity-intensive Urth Caffe on Melrose, whose organic coffees are excellent. But lately, I have been obsessed with the organic Fair Trade coffees roasted in Claremont by the small local company Monkey & Son, whose dark-roasted, impossibly fragrant coffees from Ethiopia and Nicaragua are nothing but delicious, and whose powerful Velvet Hammer blend smells almost as if it has been enrobed in pure, smoky chocolate. (The roaster, if it matters, is Thom Fuhrmann, who used to play bass for Savage Republic: It is the only coffee I know of that actually has punk-rock street cred.) At this point, you can only get Monkey & Son coffee over the Internet, but the coffee is worth the wait. www.monkeyandson.com; (909) 398-1992. Got a burning culinary question? Try us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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