On an assuming stretch of Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles is Spring for Coffee. It's a tiny shop with a small stand-up bar, perhaps 7 feet long, and a couple of small tables outside. A writer for a men's rag, GQ I believe, recently named Los Angeles his best smelling city--not for any elegance, but for the sheer variety and intensity of its smells. In one day you can get a hit of the sea-salty, the foresty, and the asphalty. Downtown is certainly odorous.
The shop's shelves attempt to burnish a specific kind of arabican credentials. There is a vacuum pot, there are Jennings scales, non-Hario pouring kettles, Chemexes. They sell whole-bean Stumptown and hand-pour offerings from guest roasters. Today they were offering a hand-poured cup of Intelligentsia's Burundi for $4. On the high side, and a bean I've already tried, so I passed.
I ordered one espresso and one cappucino, both made from Stumptown's house espresso, better known as Hair Bender.
I recently had the same blend pulled by Stumptown baristas at the ground-floor of New York's Ace Hotel, and it was near godly.
Today's shot was pulled by a relatively well-known barista, but it was below bar. He dumped a couple, and the one he served me was more than a bit off. Slightly singed. Tipping in advance guarantees nothing. The cappucino was okay, more milky than Stumptown's. The espresso didn't shoot through the milk as it did when I had Hair Bender in NYC. There is a trash can outside that reads "good, but not great." At least they have a sense of humor.
I won't be springing back here anytime soon, but I'll return someday. Hopefully my positive memory of Stumptown's Hair Bender will too.
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