Verve Coffee Roasters, Spring Street

A Honduran single-origin pour-over served at Verve Coffee Roasters on Spring Street, Los Angeles, The coffee comes in a carafe, cup on the side, presented on a wooden tray with a card giving details of the beans.I have a soft spot for Verve Coffee Roasters, the California-based coffee shop/roaster chain, although its three Japanese outposts earn it the tag “international”. Starting in Santa Cruz, where it has four outlets, including its flagship Pacific Avenue store, it’s spread both north to San Francisco (Market Street) and south to Los Angeles, where I visited the Spring Street store in downtown LA. Opening in 2015, it’s one of three Verve outlets in the city (soon to be four with opening of a roastery/ coffee shop in the Arts District in summer 2019).

The coffee options, which change monthly, are familiar to anyone who has visited Verve. There’s the Streetlevel seasonal espresso blend, joined by a featured espresso (also a blend, Sermon, during my visit), all the shots being pulled on a custom four-group Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine. For filter, there’s a batch-brew option, with three single-origins available as pour-over through Kalita Wave filters on the Modbar modular system. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of salads, wraps and bowls, with cake and pastries for those with a sweet tooth, while all the coffee is available in retail bags, along with a selection of merchandising and coffee equipment.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Verve Coffee Roasters, Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles, as seen from the south...
  • ... north...
  • ... and head on. It's a handsome building, don't you think?
  • Verve occupies the left-hand three bays on the ground floor.
  • This is the view from street level, where the front is open...
  • ... and a handy A-board reminds you where you are.
  • The open front provides sheltered outdoor seating. This is the right-hand bay...
  • ... while this is looking across towards the middle and a sloping row of three round tables.
  • Finally, there's a shorter bench in the left-hand of the three bays.
  • The benches (which run down both outside walls) are neat, with built-in coffee tables.
  • There's also plenty of greenery, which I appreciated.
  • There is a door on either side. The one on the right is set in an inward-facing V shape...
  • ... while the one on the right, which leads to the counter, is set in an outward-facing V.
  • A better view of the right-hand door, as seen from the inside.
  • Stepping inside, the counter greets you, dominating the left-hand side.
  • It's a massive affair, stretching almost to the back wall...
  • ... where this extension at the back provides some extra seating...
  • ... in the form of these stools with their triangular bases.
  • The rest of the seating is on the right-hand side, starting with this communal table...
  • ... seen here from the back.
  • Finally, benches line the right-hand wall, with standalone coffee tables and stools.
  • The two sides are separated by a combination of a central pillar and cleverly-placed...
  • ... retail shelves, starting with this one at the front, dedicated to coffee kit,
  • This one is next, with bags of coffee and merchandising.
  • There's more on the left-hand wall, between counter and window.
  • The horizontal ones are blends, the diagonals are single-origins. They're colour-coded too.
  • Verve also sells individual drip bags, something I previously saw in Japan.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • Let's get down to business. Although the cakes face to the front, you order around...
  • ... the corner where you'll find the till, with the menus...
  • ... on the wall behind.
  • Meanwhile, the choice of beans (and teas) are on clipboards on the counter top.
  • There's quite an impressive range of cakes, although the reflections...
  • ... from the glass case made it hard to get good shots.
  • Well, that's my excuse anyway.
  • There's also a selection of grab-and-go salads.
  • Batch-brew is done against the wall behind the counter, directly under the menus.
  • Moving on, pride of place goes to the four-group Kees van der Westen Spirit...
  • ... which really is a beauty!
  • The grinders (house, feataured and decaf) are on a projection between till and machine.
  • Moving on again, pour-over is at the far end of the counter, with these two...
  • ... Modbar pour-over modules, which use Kalita Wave filers.
  • I ended up down here, so it seemed only natural to have a pour-over...
  • ... my coffee coming with a card detailing the tasting notes of my Honduran single-origin.
  • I also got a bonus cappuccino on the house, made with the Streetlevel blend.
  • Nice latte art (poor photo).
  • I returned the following morning for a one-and-one, an espresso...
  • ... and a piccolo, this time with the Sermon blend, the featured espresso.
  • Nice latte art (poor photo).
Slider Script by v4.6

Verve Coffee Roasters occupies the ground floor of a large, standalone rectangular brick and breezeblock building on Spring Street in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. A sign on the side proclaiming “Dancing Girls” (if only it had been “Dancing Goats”) suggests a history as a bar, but Verve has turned it into a really interesting space, with the front third of the building open to the street, providing a lovely, sheltered outdoor seating area. A sawtooth glass wall separates this from the shop proper, where you’ll find the counter and the remaining seating.

Outside the seating is arranged into three rows. There are benches with fixed coffee tables on the left and right and three standalone round tables in the middle. Beyond them, a glass wall runs the full width of Verve, split by a single, central concrete pillar. Both sides have a V-shaped glass wall: on the right, the V points into Verve, on the left, it points out. Each is punctured by a single glass door on the side of the V closest to the central pillar.

Inside, four long, padded benches run the length of the right-hand wall, punctuated by a semi-octagonal pillar in the middle. Each bench has a single, square table, with stools acting as additional seating or small coffee tables, whatever takes your fancy. Meanwhile, each pair of benches is joined by a central extension that can also be used as additional seating or a coffee table. Still on the right-hand side, the centre of the space is occupied by a single, long 12-person communal table, benches along either side.

The centre is marked by a second octagonal pillar, with some standalone retail shelves in front of it, separating the seating from the massive counter, which dominates the left-hand side. Starting a little way back from the window/wall to leave space for a retail shelf on the left, it has cakes and grab-and-go salads to the front, while the till, where you order, is around the side, the twin batch-brewers at the back.

Next comes to the bulk of the coffee operation, separated internally by a short bar which holds the three Mythos One grinders (house, single-origin and decaf). Pride of place goes to the four-group Kees van der Westen (which looks like two two-groups in a single casing). The coffee collection point is towards the back, where a small, slightly lower projection to the counter houses the remaining seating, a row of seven triangular-based stools. The last of these are right next to the twin Modbar pour-over modules and their EK43 grinder, inset into the counter so that it doesn’t tower over everything else.

I started with a pour-over of the Honduras El Brujo, largely on the promise of lemon-lime on the tasting notes. My coffee was served in a carafe, cup on the side, all presented on a small, wooden tray. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get lemon-lime, but then I rarely do. On the other hand, I got a lovely, sweet coffee with a subtle acidity which evolved delightfully as it cooled. Perfect.

I managed to get my second free coffee of the day, a cappuccino made with the Streetlevel house-blend, largely, I think, by virtue of sitting at the end of the counter by the Modbar pour-over modules. The baristas had made it by accident, offering it to me rather than wasting it. This too was excellent, the coffee and milk going well together, producing a rich, creamy cappuccino.

Verve was heaving on my first visit, so I returned early the following morning before catching my train to San Jose to take some photographs. I also wanted a pre-departure coffee, selecting the Sermon blend as a one-and-one. While this went well in milk as a piccolo, it shone on its own, the Sermon producing a nicely-rounded espresso with pleasing acidity, setting me up nicely for my long train journey.

833 SOUTH SPRING STREET • LOS ANGELES • CA 90014 • USA +1 213-455-5991
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Verve (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Counter, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain International Visits 13th, 14th April 2019

You can also see what I made of all the other Verve Coffee Roasters locations that I’ve visited.

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