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 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|
|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||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||International||Visits||13th, 14th April 2019|
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