Once upon a time, hitting the cool, independent coffee shop in Venice Beach did not require a twenty minute see-and-be-seen line with an ear-thrumming soundtrack for a four dollar cup of organic Peruvian roast.
You're shaking your head, aren't you? You don't believe us. But it's true. Why, just last year, it was still possible to get an excellent cup of Blue Bottle inside Abbott Kinney's much-beloved–if, alas, not patronized–independent bookstore Equator Books.
When Equator shut down just over a year ago, many of us were deeply chagrined. But none, apparently, as much as former Equator employee Sophie McLaughlin, who spent the next year (forgive us) percolating her business plan to bring a good, low-key cup of coffee back to the far west side.
“I liked Blue Bottle's espresso best,” McLaughlin says, “But [Portland roaster] Stumptown's coffee. I thought, if I'm going to just be doing coffee, it ought to be them.”
Sharing the charming backyard of local landscaper Big Red Sun, McLaughlin's red lantern-strewn cart (which she operates in conjunction with Mar Vista's Venice Grind) with its spread of free magazines and the faint plinking of old jazz, is about as un-Intelligentsia as it gets. Though you do kind of have to be one of the intelligentsia to find it. Except for a few chalkboard signs, the stand is essentially hidden, tucked away down an alley just south of Rose at 6th Ave.
McLaughlin parks there from about 7:30AM to 3 on Tuesday through Saturday selling single brewed Stumptown for two bucks a cup. She's frequently joined in the mornings by fellow food cart “Cup-Cup” (edible toast cups: think Matthew Poley's lasagna cupcakes meets breakfast). Follow those chalkboard arrows–and the rich, caramel smell of Stumptown roast–to find them…