Tag Archives: coffee

PUMPIN’: STREET ART WITH LOTS OF HEART

We love coffee. You probably do too. But we REALLY love coffee. It’s actually kind of a problem, and, though we may try to curtail our consumption from time to time, we will probably never give it up. Caffeine is a drug.

This addiction has driven us to go above and beyond in seeking out good espresso. Over the past three or four years we’ve visited the cafes, coffee roasteries, and espresso bars of almost every significant purveyor of freshly brewed third-wave coffee in Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. 

In Los Angeles, one of the relatively newer players in the local coffee situation is Alfred Coffee. From its beginnings in L.A.’s fashionable Silver Lake neighborhood a few years ago, it has sprouted several branches.

The most recent outpost is in Beverly Hills and like the Silver Lake cafe, it’s decorated with a mural by British artist JGoldcrown and one of his “Lovewall” (a.k.a., “Bleeding Hearts”) murals. Goldcrown’s street art pieces have popped up all around the City of Angels in the past couple of years.

Goldcrown’s heart-filled street artworks can be found on buildings from Santa Monica and Venice on the the city’s beachy far west  side, to the Valley, to Silver Lake and the Downtown Arts District on the east, and now in between, in one of the poshest neighborhoods in the world.

Each “Lovewall” is a rectangle of cartoony, roughly-drawn heart shapes in various colors. Some are outlines of hearts, others filled in. The effect is like that of a casual array of doodles scrawled out of boredom on a high-school student’s notebook.

These hearts are often on a white background, but recently the artist has created versions on a black background or with words written into the field of hearts. The new mural at the new Alfred Coffee in Beverly Hills is yet another variation. It’s on a pink background, which is the most evocative — and our favorite — color yet.

Goldcrown’s “Lovewall” murals are on the road to becoming iconic landmarks. In Beverly HIlls, it will make it easier to spot the new Alfred Coffee as you navigate Santa Monica Blvd. traffic in search of a stylish flat white with almond milk and an extra shot of espresso. Like we need that extra shot. (We do.)

Daydreaming A Little Daydream at Dreamy Daydream

The space at Daydream Coffee and Surf in Costa Mesa, California is great, but it’s missing a few things that would make it perfect: A bed, a TV, and a set of keys to the space with our name on it.

Common Room

The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and  secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.

On the Scene at Menotti’s Coffee Shop in Venice

The cafe at Menotti’s Coffee is a third-wave espresso joint and a friendly little hub for the legion of caffeinated locals and a certain stylish subset of Silicon Beach worker bees in the heart of Venice in Los Angeles. The baristas are serious about their coffee game but with zero pretension, in spite of the smattering of hipster accoutrements. Sure, there’s a skateboard and fixed-gear bicycle propped against a wall inside the cafe, and there’s beautiful, curated art photography on the wall, but its presence seems more a natural byproduct of taste than strategic. Across from the cafeteria is the famous, epic-scaled Venice “Touch of Evil” mural. On a slow day, we’ll cruise over to Menotti’s on our bikes for a long break and a flat white cappuccino.

Menotti’s Coffeeはロサンゼルスのヴェネツィアで “Silicon Beach”で働くスタイリッシュな若者やカフェ、親しみやすい小さなエスプレッソバーです。 カフェバリスタはコーヒーについて真剣です。 彼らにはプレテンションはありません。 しかし、彼らはヒップスターです。 もちろん、カフェの中にはスケートボードと固定式の自転車があります。 壁に美しくキュートな芸術的な写真があります。 これはメノッティスタイルの例です。 カフェの通りを渡って、有名な、壮大なサイズのヴェネツィア「Touch of Evil」の壁画があります。 私たちが忙しくないとき、仕事から休みを取って、メノッティに自転車を乗せて、美味しいフラットホワイトのカプチーノを飲むことにします。

“Love Wall” by JGoldcrown at Alfred Coffee … Silver Lake, Los Angeles

UK artist J Goldcrown has made these “Lovewall” / “Bleeding Hearts” murals of simple, spray-painted hearts part of the urban scenery of Los Angeles and New York throughout the past year. This one is painted at the entrance to Alfred Coffee, a popular cafe in the fashionable “establishment hipster” neighborhood of Silver Lake in Los Angeles.

“But First, Coffee” Curb … Silver Lake, Los Angeles

The curb in front of the Alfred Coffee in Silver Lake, Los Angeles has been cheekily employed as signage, and as such a clever branding device that bears the cafe’s slogan in stenciled white-on-black paint: “But First, Coffee.” Whether this guerrilla marketing tactic is legal is unknown. (We suspect it isn’t legal and they didn’t ask the city for permission.) In the extreme car culture of L.A., where people are especially attuned to the meanings of the city’s various color-coded curb markings, finding free, legal street parking can be frustrating. Alfred Coffee brings a welcomed touch of levity to the experience, as well as a reminder of our caffeinated priorities.

One more note … On the sidewalk is a purple stencil street art that riffs on graphic designer Milton Glaser’s iconic “I Heart NY” logo concept, but the graphical quality with this street stencil is muddled and it isn’t clear what the message is. But the “heart” part of the visual trope looks a lot like the face of legendary film actor Jack Nicholson as he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

Scenes from a Snow Day … New York City

As the pix below show, Tuesday was a “snow day” here in New York City due to the massive winter storm, dubbed Juno, that started hitting the city Monday afternoon.

But while the blizzard started out big, blustery and with very heavy snowfall Monday, the second wave of the storm that arrived later that night and on Tuesday morning was fairly mild and didn’t live up to the epic snowpocalypse (or snowmaggeddon, if you prefer) that was forecast for the city.

We were surprised how little snow had piled up in a bowl we had left outside on our balcony overnight. Still, NYC effectively shut down Tuesday and most of us spent most of the day at home with an official day off from the office, if not from the work itself (we still managed to hold two conference calls with our clients in Europe in morning).

With conditions milder than expected, we took some time out to wander around and go for a long walk in our downtown Manhattan neighborhood, enjoying the relative tranquility that comes with much of the city’s business being shut down on such an occasion. We made some stops along the way for Chinese steamed dumplings and a coffee, too.

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Shiny Cool Super-Minimal Unbranded Bag of Bear Pond Espresso Beans

On our recent visit back to Tokyo, we picked up a bag of freshly-roasted espresso beans from Bear Pond Espresso at their cafe at On the Corner in Shibuya. We love the totally unbranded, shiny, silvery bag — it’s only markings are the roasting batch and date numbers.

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On the Scene … At the Beautifully Minimalist Nezu Cafe in Aoyama, Tokyo

The cafe in the garden of the Nezu Museum in Aoyama, in Tokyo, is a striking example of minimalist architectural design and contemporary Japanese aesthetics. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides of the rectangular space give a full view of the garden and spectacular autumn foliage. A Japanese washi paper design is part of the ceiling material and allows diffused light into the space. This is one of more contemplative spaces in Tokyo and a fine place to while away an hour in reflection, sipping a coffee or tea.

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“Water is the Most Essential Element of Life Because …”

This signage made our day. It’s in front of the Jolly Goat, a tiny espresso bar in Hell’s Kitchen, in New York City, and reads: “Water is the Most Essential Element of Life Because w/out water you can’t make coffee.” True.

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Our New Coffee-Making Toy

We just picked up this artfully crafted “La Cupola” espresso maker by Alessi at the Eataly foodie emporium in Smeraldo, in Milan, Italy. We couldn’t resist, what with coffee being something close to sacred to us here at GG, and the design of this device making it an object of beauty. As soon as we post this, we’re going to brew up a double espresso on ice! Ciao.

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On the Street … Drive-Thru Coffee Mural at Zebra Coffee

Zebra House Coffee is probably the best place to get an espresso coffee in the surf-mecca Southern California town of San Clemente. It’s a laidback cafe and a fine space to sip on an iced Americano while flipping through back issues of Surfer magazine. In fitting SoCal fashion, Zebra offers a drive-thru service, and it has this cool graffiti-style, street-artsy mural painting for signage pointing customers in the right direction.

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Cool Spaces … At Happy Bones Coffee NYC

Lately we’ve started popping into the recently opened Happy Bones Coffee a lot. (See pix below.) Happy Bones is an Aussie Kiwi-staffed espresso cafe in downtown New York City. It’s a tiny place with three tables on an short, less-remarkable stretch of Broome Street in the ill-defined, mashed-up border area where Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo and Nolita all converge at the Lower East Side’s western edge.

Happy Bones serves up a solid menu of third-wave coffee brews and espresso drinks, including an honest “flat white.” Their coffee is roasted and supplied by Counter Culture (its barista training center is a couple of blocks away). But what really strikes us about the cafe is its decor, the clever design and clean style of the small space, which is drenched in a white minimalist color scheme that’s warm and inviting rather than cold and stark. A skylight and floor-to-ceiling glass frontage draw light into the place and give it some comfortable airiness.

The cafe has a legit downtown-culture and art vibe. A playlist of mostly 1980s and ’90s British music invariably is playing over the sound system (tunes by the likes of the Clash, Specials, Blur, etc.) and a collection of coffee-table art and photography books are on sale next to bags of coffee beans.

BTW … what’s with all the Australian expat baristas and bartenders in NYC these days? Seems like an invasion, and we <3 it. (The Kiwi invasion, too.) 😉

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