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Top Coffee Shops for Work in LA

A simple, Yelp-like list of my favorite coffee spots in Los Angeles to work, read, and of course drink great coffee. This list is designed with the benefit of USC✌️ students in mind.

Fri Jun 14 2019


Ankur Rastogi, Ben Stanfield (me) and Fiona Pestana at Balcony Coffee in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

Just over two years ago to this day, during finals week of my second year at the University of Southern California, I was introduced to good coffee. At first, it was a purely practical affair: caffeine to keep pushing past the late hours of studying. But over the months since then I have developed an affinity for coffee of all kinds, its morning ritual, and most enjoyably the weekly treks to coffee shops from K Town to Larchmont. Enjoy the list!

Jump to:

  1. Balcony Coffee 🌝
  2. Highly Likely
  3. Prism Coffee
  4. Dulce Coffee
  5. Alchemist Coffee 🌝
  6. Ignatius Cafe
  7. With Love Cafe
  8. Yellow House Cafe 🌝
  9. Bourgeois Pig 🌝
  10. Nothing But Coffee 🌝
  11. Bricks & Scones

🌝 = Open late



Balcony Coffee


 💸  Expect to spend about $5.00 ?

↳  Dutch Latte ($5.00) = $5.00

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Mon: 9 AM - 11 PMTue: 9 AM - 11 PMWed: 9 AM - 11 PMThu: 9 AM - 11 PMFri: 9 AM - 11 PMSat: 9 AM - 11 PMSun: 9 AM - 8 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 15 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

All day grind

The mystical and serene atmosphere is great for getting in the zone

Drinks

Good tea selection and specialty lattes

Service

Baristas always greet you with a smile and are eager to help!

Not great for:

Large groups

This place is small... most tables sit two, with one larger table outside

Food

Mostly cake and other pastries

Distance

Driving time is about 30 minutes if you leave midday, since you're taking city streets through K-town

Notes on Balcony Coffee

Balcony Coffee is an absolutely serene experience—granted you sit outside under the tiny greenhouse netting. Although you're just a couple feet from the busy sidewalk and Koreatown street, with buses and trucks rolling by, the thick wall of trees and vines engulfs you in a sort of mystical space.
The owners are very eager to help and make you feel welcome staying for hours. The lattes are really interesting, especially the seasonal and specialty drinks like the Dutch Latte or "Brad Pitt." The food selection is limited, but there is food elsewhere in the plaza and around the area in K-town.
Balcony is perfect for some study time where you just need to get off campus and really focus. Turn off your computer and read a book out on the patio with some quality coffee—it doesn't get much better than that. 😎
From Mimi: I loved the service and ambiance at Balcony Coffee. When I got there I ordered their Thai Iced Tea (super, super good) from the very polite baristas. My friend and I spent a full day working in their outdoor area — it's a lovely greenhouse-esque patio that's overflowing with both plants and outlets. It's colorful, it's relaxing, and perfect if you like the idea of studying in a park but can't do without decent wifi and power. There's enough space for you to come with a friend or in a group of four or so, which is more than most L.A. spots can accommodate (I'm looking at you, Alchemist). Based on who was there, Balcony is a good spot for a relaxing study session or a first date 😉... or both!

Ben's Recommendations



Highly Likely


 💸  Expect to spend about $15.00 ?

↳  Highly Burrito ($11.00) + Cortado ($4.00) = $15.00

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Mon: 7 AM - 8 PMTue: 7 AM - 8 PMWed: 7 AM - 8 PMThu: 7 AM - 8 PMFri: 7 AM - 8 PMSat: 7 AM - 8 PMSun: 7 AM - 8 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 28 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

All day grind

Comfy seating and plenty of outlets (along walls)

Food

Better than most good restaurants, plus generous portions

Distance

Straightforward drive from USC + easy street parking

Drinks

Try the seasonal specials, or stick to solid classics like a cortado

Not great for:

Wifi

It's decent, but turned off all weekend!

Notes on Highly Likely

An unexpected hipster-hideaway on Jefferson Street ten minutes west of campus, Highly Likely is a beautiful spot to enjoy coffee, work, and conversation. With a large food menu of healthy breakfast and lunch option—plus a fine array of coffee and tea—this shop is great for all-day work sessions.
The warehouse-like façade of the building is opened wide on warm days, spilling in lots of natural light into the space. Large booth tables with comfortable leather couches make for good group hangouts. Plus, there are plenty of outlets underneath the couches!
There are few downsides to Highly Likely, but a notable one if you're interested in opening up your laptop is the wifi: HL turns off their wifi on the weekends! Hey, here's to more person-to-person conversation and book-reading... but if you're going with the intention of work, avoid the weekends.

Ben's Recommendations



Prism Coffee


 💸  Expect to spend about $11.00 ?

↳  waffle ($5.00) + spanish latte ($6.00) = $11.00

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Mon: 7 AM - 9 PMTue: 7 AM - 9 PMWed: 7 AM - 9 PMThu: 7 AM - 9 PMFri: 7 AM - 9 PMSat: 7 AM - 9 PMSun: 7 AM - 9 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 15 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Charging

Plenty of outlets

Wifi

Pretty good

Drinks

Amazing pour-over and iced coffee

Service

Very friendly and knowledgeable!

Not great for:

Food

Mostly pastries

Distance

Not close to campus

All day grind

No comfortable seating

Large groups

Limited total space

Notes on Prism Coffee

Prism Coffee is a wonderful, tiny slice of coffee heaven. Robin (the manager) and his staff's attention to detail—mainly for their pour-over and iced coffee—is undeniably the shop's strongsuit. That and ample charging, good wifi, and friendly service pushes Prism into my top 10.
If you're not into pourover coffee, or don't want to front the steep price for it, try the cortado. There isn't much food at Prism, but their waffle is to die for.
You won't hear much about Prism because of its distance from campus (15 minutes without traffic) and low-profile shop (there isn't much else to do within walking distance). Save Prism for a day when you're craving a great cup of coffee and a nice chat over a long work session.

Ben's Recommendations



Dulce Coffee


 💸  Expect to spend about $11.50 ?

↳  breakfast burrito ($8.00) + drip coffee ($3.50) = $11.50

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Mon: 7 AM - 9 PMTue: 7 AM - 9 PMWed: 7 AM - 9 PMThu: 7 AM - 9 PMFri: 7 AM - 9 PMSat: 7 AM - 9 PMSun: 7 AM - 9 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 2 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Distance

On campus!

Drinks

Good drip and matcha coffee

Service

Very friendly!

Food

Donuts, sandwiches, breakfast burritos

Not great for:

All day grind

Too loud and limited charging

Large groups

Limited total space

Charging

Only a few outlets!

Wifi

Kicks you off every 15 min.

Notes on Dulce Coffee

Located in the USC Village, Dulce’s combination of accessibility and quality coffee is hard to beat. Most people around campus will rave about Dulce’s Matcha drinks, but not being a big fan of Matcha, I’ve really enjoyed their plain-old drip coffees. Their lattes and teas are also very good and the service friendly.
In addition to good drinks, Dulce also makes a phenomenal breakfast burrito and a few really good sandwiches. Don’t sleep on their food… it’s a great spot for breakfast and lunch and comes out in less than 10 minutes.
From Abigail Africa: Dulce is overall a mixed bag. It produces great food and coffee, but you should never expect to settle there unless you're exceptionally prepared to deal with poor wifi and a tough selection of outlets. Lighting is great, but noise is high, so I go there to do remote work, but not for group projects. Outdoors is a lovely experience in the first months of fall or the bulk of spring. It’s quieter than inside, but there are variables like harsh sun and no power.

Ben's Recommendations



Alchemist Coffee


 💸  Expect to spend about $17.50 ?

↳  egg bat sandwich ($12.00) + single origin (hario) ($5.50) = $17.50

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Mon: 7:30 AM - 10 PMTue: 7:30 AM - 10 PMWed: 7:30 AM - 10 PMThu: 7:30 AM - 10 PMFri: 7:30 AM - 10 PMSat: 7:30 AM - 10 PMSun: 8 AM - 10 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 12 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Drinks

Great pour-over and tea selection.

Food

Awesome breakfast and paninis

All day grind

Cheap parking and good Korean food in plaza

Distance

Just follow Vermont all the way from campus

Not great for:

Large groups

Small tables

Charging

There are some in the middle, but lots of tables have limited access

Notes on Alchemist Coffee

My most frequented off-campus coffee shop, Alchemist has just about everything you could want: good food, coffee, atmosphere, wifi, and cheap parking. Nestled in a small plaza in Koreatown, the area affords tons of tasty and cheap places to eat nearby, even in the same plaza.
Alchemist is a self-proclaimed “New Orleans” style coffee shop (previously named Bourbon Street Cafe), and the owner, Marcelo, really pushes to make great, artisanal coffee at an affordable price. I’d recommend trying their single-origin cold brew with the Egg Bat Sandwich for breakfast or lunch.
Watch out: If you’re planning on parking in the plaza’s central lot, make sure you have two dollars in cash ready to hand over to the “valet.”

Ben's Recommendations



Ignatius Cafe


 💸  Expect to spend about $3.50 ?

↳  lemon tea ($3.50) = $3.50

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Mon: 9 AM - 9 PMTue: 9 AM - 9 PMWed: 9 AM - 9 PMThu: 9 AM - 9 PMFri: 9 AM - 9 PMSat: 9 AM - 5 PMSun: 9 AM - 9 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 3 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Service

Very sweet Korean ladies

Drinks

The best lemon tea on earth

Distance

10 minute WALK from north of campus

Charging

Plugs are plentiful, even outside

Large groups

It's never really packed, so there are often multiple tables or even long benches available outside.

Not great for:

Food

There just isn't any

Wifi

It's not a priority here. Bring a book and enjoy the sunshine

Notes on Ignatius Cafe

This might be the only Korean Church that serves coffee and tea out of a cottage. If not, it’s probably still the best coffee and tea served out of a Korean Church. Ignatius Cafe is a tiny shop with outdoor garden seating, the perfect serene escape from the hustle and bustle on campus. And it’s walking distance (right near Ralph’s, north of campus)!
The wifi is spotty, so I’d recommend bringing a friend for a nice chat while you enjoy delicious lemon tea. Come here to unwind—the fresh air and peaceful garden is rare in Los Angeles.
Nothing is more than a few dollars here, and they only serve a few things in total: espresso, americano, café latte, and lemon tea.
They only take cash, so make sure to bring a couple bucks with you.
From Jenny Zhang: There are two ideals at Ignatius. One: bring a friend you haven’t seen in a while to catch up and reflect on life. Sip iced tea across from each other at a small round table with an umbrella, especially at 3 in the afternoon when the sun is warm. Two: bring a novel about love and fate in a small town. Admire the warmth of the yellow interiors over a latte. Smile sporadically at the friendly korean owners at the counter. Write a poem.

Ben's Recommendations



With Love Cafe


 💸  Expect to spend about $11.00 ?

↳  cubano ($8.50) + coffee ($2.50) = $11.00

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Mon: 7 AM - 5 PMTue: 7 AM - 5 PMWed: 7 AM - 5 PMThu: 7 AM - 5 PMFri: 7 AM - 5 PMSat: 9 AM - 5 PMSun: 9 AM - 5 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 5 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Food

Healthy meals or snacks from the market

All day grind

Friendly and open space with big tables

Distance

Closer to campus than you think

Not great for:

Drinks

Compared to the rest of these shops, it's nothing special. But the prices are good!

Notes on With Love Cafe

Located just five minutes away from campus, With Love Cafe is a sweet community spot. Its dedication to serving the community is reflected in the truly diverse array of people that come through the market and cafe everyday. Small downsides are limited street parking and unremarkable coffee, but all of the pros easily make up for these. You can stay fueled with solid food, wifi, and charging all day here at an affordable price.
It has different workspace options too. You can move from the wide open downstairs to the more studious and quiet upstairs, or even into the small conference room available by reservation — that room is a personal favorite for group meeting (first two hours are free!).
You won’t regret choosing With Love Cafe as your coffee spot for the full day — and you’re likely to be the only USC students there too, which is a refreshing change of pace from classic downtown brunch and coffee spot teeming with college students.
From Mimi: With Love Cafe feels like the perfect blend between warm community library and health food store. If you’re the type to grab snacks at Trader Joe’s and then stop by Cafe 84 on a Saturday afternoon, skip both and head to With Love instead.

Ben's Recommendations



Yellow House Cafe


 💸  Expect to spend about $19.45 ?

↳  kimchi pasta ($14.95) + green tea ($4.50) = $19.45

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Mon: 11 AM - 12 PMTue: 11 AM - 12 PMWed: 11 AM - 12 PMThu: 11 AM - 12 PMFri: 11 AM to 2 AMSat: 11 AM to 2 AMSun: 11 AM - 12 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 5 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

Food

Tons of options from different cuisines!

Drinks

Big selection of teas and coffee. Try the blooming tea!

Not great for:

All day grind

It might just be me, but they seem to give dirty looks if you stay longer than an hour or two.

Notes on Yellow House Cafe

Yellow House sits somewhere between a coffee shop and a full-fledged restaurant. Most days, you’ll find groups of Korean women sipping on tea and hashing out plans for their business, while some young couple slurps down pasta in the corner, and a guy on his laptop (me) nurses his coffee.
If you’re looking for an all-day place to have lunch, drink coffee, and get work done, Yellow House is a prime spot. The back patio area feels like you’ve exited LA and entered a misty jungle. Cozy fires roar in a few spots—I’d recommend grabbing a table next to one of those in the winter.
From Melisa Seah: If you're looking to find a place to hide out (while also fill your stomach with a blend of anything from Korean food to s'mores) Yellow House is your spot. Skip the inside and head to the patio out back, where you can nestle into a corner and get to work.

Ben's Recommendations



Bourgeois Pig


 💸  Expect to spend about $13.21 ?

↳  panini ($10.00) + espresso ($3.21) = $13.21

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Mon: 8 AM to 2 AMTue: 8 AM to 2 AMWed: 8 AM to 2 AMThu: 8 AM to 2 AMFri: 8 AM to 2 AMSat: 8 AM to 2 AMSun: 8 AM to 2 AM

 🚙  It's typically a 20 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

All day grind

Open very late and full of hard-at-work Hollywood writers

Drinks

Good tea and lattes to keep you going late into the night

Not great for:

Distance

All the way in Hollywood, but the drive isn't bad if you go late at night!

Notes on Bourgeois Pig

A classic Hollywood writer’s den, Bourgeois Pig is the ultimate oh-shit-i-have-to-write-my-paper-by-tomorrow study spot. It’s vibey, it’s always open late, and everyone there is working hard on something.
While their coffee and pastries won’t blow you away, the mystical, purple light, the “forest room,” and pool table offer an ambience unlike any other coffee shop you’ve ever visited (to add to the intrigue, Scientology’s Celebrity Center is located right across the street).
I recommend departing from campus for Bourgeois Pig long after the sun has set. Bring a blanket. Order an espresso. Work til two and ride the empty freeways back home to USC in record time.

Ben's Recommendations



Nothing But Coffee


 💸  Expect to spend about $9.50 ?

↳  waffle ($5.00) + pour-over ($4.50) = $9.50

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Mon: 9 AM to 2 AMTue: 9 AM to 2 AMWed: 9 AM to 2 AMThu: 9 AM to 2 AMFri: 9 AM to 2 AMSat: 9 AM to 2 AMSun: 9 AM to 2 AM

 🚙  It's typically a 14 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

All day grind

Open late; but limited table space and parking

Drinks

Amazing coffee

Not great for:

Large groups

Can't seat more than 4 at a table, and table space is generally limited

Notes on Nothing But Coffee

As the name suggests, Nothing But Coffee (NBC) serves… coffee. And a really good waffle (which you can smell every time one is made to order). Pourover, matcha, cold brew, lattes… NBC nails all of these and serves until 2 AM.
NBC is a wonderful spot for late-night work sessions, but mind the limited parking in the back lot if you’re driving, and limited table space (no room for groups larger than 3 or 4).
The coffee might look expensive on the menu, but their pours are generous... often coming in pitchers large enough to keep you caffeinated for hours.

Ben's Recommendations



Bricks & Scones


 💸  Expect to spend about $13.21 ?

↳  scone ($10.00) + arnold palmer ($3.21) = $13.21

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Mon: 7:30 AM - 8 PMTue: 7:30 AM - 8 PMWed: 8 AM - 8 PMThu: 8 AM - 8 PMFri: 8 AM - 8 PMSat: 8 AM - 8 PMSun: 8 AM - 8 PM

 🚙  It's typically a 25 minute drive from campus at 10 AM.


Best for:

All day grind

Lots of comfortable seating and very conducive to studying!

Drinks

Amazing coffee

Food

Large selection of breakfast and lunch, plus lots of great shops just down the road in Larchmont

Large groups

If you can get a large table downstairs, you can comfortably seat a group of six. Just be ready to fight over outlets

Not great for:

Distance

Larchmont can be tricky to get to. Time your drive wisely, or traffic will eat up your day

Notes on Bricks & Scones

Bricks & Scones is situated in Larchmont, a beautiful neighborhood with plentiful shops and eating options for a nice lunch on a sunny day. The cafe itself is gigantic, taking up all of the first and second floors of what looks like an old home. Downstairs, there are long tables for groups and upstairs, collections of odd-shaped tables, desks, and couches.
As the shop’s name suggests, the scones and other pastries at Bricks & Scones are quite good. There are plenty of food options here, but I’d recommend walking down the street to a small deli with some of the freshest, most delicious sandwiches. Drink-wise, you can’t go wrong with their multitude of iced coffees or cappuccino.
Traffic can really make Bricks & Scones feel far from campus, so plan your trip around avoiding rush hour.

Ben's Recommendations





👋

That's it!

Thanks for stopping by! If you'd like to comment on one of these shops, recommend your favorite, or simply grab coffee together, shoot me a message! 😁 ☕ ️
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Contact

(Mail goes to bstanfie@usc.edu)