Everything is in its right place at Mar Vista's most adequately hip coffee joint, where the beans and teas are organic, there is fresh fruit for those who abstain from refined sugar and the corkboard near the entrance is festooned with notices for guitar lessons and no-budget graphic design. The Stumptown Coffee Roasters espresso--squeezed through a gleaming La Marzocco espresso machine--is on model as well. In any number of hot or iced compositions the roast is dense, terra cotta earthy and bitter. It's reasonably priced too, and as much a vector for alkaloids as flavor. For you maniacs, even small espresso drinks begin with a double shot. On last visit, the jittering man in front of me ordered a quadruple Americano. An hour later he looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.
The daily drip is something of an also-ran in the coffee culture, where so much emphasis is placed on the character and impact of an establishment's jet black, oily espresso roast of choice, but Venice Grind's brewed coffee distinguishes itself. The selections rotate daily and, when fresh, exhibit a balance of acid and roasted notes that are absent from the Penzoil-inspired brews at Starbucks or Coffee Bean. However, the bottomless cup--a thoughtful nod to compulsive caffeinators for a few bits more than a standard small to-go size--has been discontinued in favor of 60-cent refills. Still, it's an effective way to incentivize lingering in the airy, high-ceilinged space, not to mention grazing over the Grind's modest selection of bagels, pastries, diminutive red velvet cupcakes and the occasional homemade brownie or quiche. This is a morning destination first; the selection becomes alarmingly thin by lunchtime.
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Lately, Venice Grind has been actively refreshing its interior and tweaking its menu offerings. The vibe is pleasant, the help always friendly and the walls are decorated with skateboard decks and work by local artists. Most of the clientele arrive Macbook and iPhone-equipped, resigned to wait out the sluggish internet connection (ad- supported wi-fi is dispensed free to local businesses).
The crowd in the rear courtyard is less rehearsed. Strangers chat, single-finger typists ask their neighbors for spelling tips and staff occasionally wander back to share a cigarette with friends. On Sundays, Venice Grind operates a cart with brewed coffee only at the nearby Farmers Market on Grand View Boulevard, one of Los Angeles' youngest--and still pleasantly disorganized--open-air markets.
Venice Grind: 12224 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles; (310) 397-2227.