It’s a tad depressing counting the number of Starbucks shops you see during a drive across town — any town. If we’re not careful, even huge and diverse cities like LA will look a lot like the cookie cutter suburbs that line the interstates. Only Bed, Bath, & Beyonds, Taco Bells, and (you guessed it) Starbucks drive-thru locations as far as the eye can see.
It does no good to complain ad nauseam about the topic; rather, consumers need to put their money in the hands of the few remaining independent business owners that are still managing to turn a profit and keep their doors open. Though LA has it’s fair share of chain restaurants and department stores, with just a smidgen of effort it’s easy to turn your back on those and go to an indie establishment instead. Case in point: there are some great indie coffee shops in Mid-City, and four Starbucks shops. Next time you need some caffeine or just a nice atmosphere to work in, pass up the green, double-tailed mermaid and try one of these fantastic spaces.
Graffiti Coffee Bar opened last April on La Brea Boulevard; the modern, white-walled space might not please everyone’s aesthetic palate, but I felt like I was in an awesome Manhattan art gallery that allows drinks, snacks, and laptops to cross it’s threshold. I can’t wait until winter, when the LA temps just might be cool enough to warrant grabbing a seat by the fireplace. Heights fiends can opt to sit in the lofted level overlooking the counter. The shop is currently serving baked goods from Bouchon, and the coffee I had was solid. So much more of an experience than going to a Starbucks.
Paper or Plastik Cafe just hit it’s second anniversary, and there’s a lot about this place worthy of celebration. The industrial-styled interior, the mixed metal and wood tables, naked brick wall, and silver pipes with head-sized light bulbs jutting out askew create the perfect vibe for the fervently-working type; the majority of customers sit with laptops open and keys clicking, sipping from perfectly white mugs when it’s time for a mental break. The bare walls, exposed beams, and high ceiling create a buzz of bouncing echoes that one can’t help but love. There’s lofted seating at this shop as well, and even cooler: a modern dance studio in the back. Known as MiMoDa, the studio is home to Jazzo and ballet classes; when in session they send light waves of pulsating jazz or modern tunes wafting into the lounge. Swing by at around 5 or 6 pm on a Wednesday and you’ll be privy to a great sight: gaggles of tutu-clad pre-schoolers streaming out through the coffee shop, drawing the eyes of every customer in the room. Once they filter out, the typing war begins again.