Tales and travels of a coffee connoisseur

By Melody Park

Photo courtesy of Melody Park

I went on a coffee field trip this summer and, as a religious Yelper, I had high expectations. From June through August I traveled and had great experiences accompanied by new trendy coffee.

With some of the highest reviews on Yelp, I couldn’t resist going to Philz Coffee while spending a week in San Francisco. I noticed that Philz is for yuppies or the cool, hip urbanites and the swanky 40-year-old men who rock large frame glasses and Sperrys. Since all but one of its locations are located in the Bay Area (also known as the lively city with a not-so-golden gate bridge and the Silicon Valley), there are plenty of young people to make up Philz’s customer population. The friendly service is a plus, almost as great as the taste of your first refreshing sip of an iced mint mojito coffee, their most popular beverage.

I spent a solid month in Chicago and regularly resorted to the huge Dunkin’ Donuts franchise to keep myself caffeinated and attentive throughout the day. Dunkin’ Donuts is for the quick and always on-the-go type of person. The coffee is cheap and you can grab your favorite donut on the side. The servers themselves add the milk/sweetener that you want. I could really taste the coffee roast and it felt genuine, unlike the mostly watered-down coffee sold at McDonalds and International House of Pancakes (IHOP). It’s the best place to go when you need fast service and a sharp jolt of caffeine. Also, they have different sizing for iced and hot drinks. Dunkin’ Donuts knows that ice takes up more volume in the cups and can leave customers with less coffee than they should, something Starbucks should get straight as well.

In downtown Los Angeles I tried Stumptown Coffee’s famous cold brew. (Cold brew is a way to make coffee in which you steep coffee beans for an extended period, usually several hours.) Stumptown is the pioneer of cold brew coffee, which strangely complements the shop’s modern decor and minimalist designs.  Stumptown’s headquarters is  in Portland, Ore. but it has a few locations in New York City and Seattle as well. And while Stumptown certainly is more pricey, the quality and taste of their coffee is unmatched. Since all of their locations are in urban areas, they have a plentiful and diverse customer flow.

After being surrounded with endless coffee talk on two different sides of the country, I learned that the coffee mantra doesn’t stop. Back home, all of the specialized coffee shops/franchises made their way to Los Angeles. Of course I was ecstatic.

Philz started out as a San Francisco and Bay Area-based chain, but it opened its first Los Angeles (LA) location in Santa Monica this past July. Dunkin’ Donuts opened its first west coast location in 20 years this July in Santa Monica as well. About 100 more southern California Dunkin locations are expected to open in places like Downey and Long Beach, according to the Los Angeles Register. Stumptown opened its LA location about a year ago, but the franchise maintains a relatively fresh reputation in the area.

For most Americans, coffee is essential. Each morning, coffee is bought, brewed and served to complement our breakfast pastries or wake us up after an unsuccessful night’s rest. We rely on coffee to keep us awake during our long days.

For Angelenos specifically, the hottest coffee trends from different regions of the United States have finally arrived and this long overdue landing of specialized coffee in LA is a clear indicator of how instrumental coffee is in most of our lives and how truly powerful the coffee industry is.

It also redeems the fact that Los Angeles is, in fact, powerful, with distinct residents who continue to seek out the best coffee and foodie trends.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper

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