Friday, April 4, 2008

Starbucks Is Gourmet?

A friend of mine once woke from a dream in which she opened up a Starbucks in the jungles of Paraguay. Granted, she worked at Starbucks at the time, the dream certainly wasn't uninspired. Although she never advocated it's existence, she certainly didn't oppose it (after all, she worked at one of the newest Starbucks music stores off Lincoln Road in Miami Beach; and they wanted to promote her - that was one thing she didn't want and she turned them down). There's no denying that pretty much everyone in the world coffee drinking age has tried Starbucks self-promoted 'premier' coffee, and subsequently been exposed to its' Baristas and cornucopia of merchandise (did anyone see the coffee cups shaped like a to go mug? I admit - I think they're cute). However, the prices of their coffee have gone up without quality to match, and I often find the long lines and cookie-cutter atmosphere has cheapened the experience.

How lucky was I to find a blurb in New York magazine about how Starbucks should wise up and take a gander at the newbie coffee houses slowly whittling away their profits and producing Mochas and Lattes that justify the price and a true gourmet reputation. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a true coffee house in L.A. and it's name is Intelligentsia. Known to many SilverLake dwellers, their L.A. location exists on a small section off Sunset, where some of the more interesting culinary treats of Silverlake exist.

Why comes to L.A.? If you go to the site, it's slightly reminiscent of the Starbucks mantra, however, "Along with introducing Los Angeles to Intelligentsia’s understanding that responsible business practices create the finest coffees, the Silver Lake store will showcase the seasonality of the fine coffees. An agricultural product, coffee can be grown and harvested with the same care and commitment local artisanal farmers have for heirloom vegetables. And like heirloom vegetables, coffee varietals, such as the famed Geisha bean, each have a season when they are at their peak. The new Silver Lake store will showcase these finer, heirloom-grown coffees by offering coffees only during their specific season, when their stunning aromas and flavors elevate it from commodity crop to an elegant foodstuff to be savored."

So where does that leave Starbucks, leader of the coffee biz? Danny Meyer, a restauranteur, believes that since Starbucks has "put an entire adult population through Coffee University," it must now prepare its own generations of "stores run by passionate coffee geeks," after taking a cue from "four of the smaller, elite players from across the world who are doing it right." Drumroll please, these are: Monmouth Coffee (London), Blue Bottle (San Francisco-Oakland), Intelligentsia (Chicago/Note* L.A. is their newest location), and Joe the art of Coffee (New York). L.A. certainly doesn't need another superficial anecdote in the daily grind; but can Angelenos sacrifice their time for a good cup of Joe? After all, I don't want to see Starbucks in the middle of the jungle.

Coffee sommelier, pastries, Clover
3922 W. Sunset Blvd., 323.663.6173
Daily 6am-11pm

1 comment:

H in Boulder said...

I taught you well!! love ~ mom