I was in Venice, CA this weekend and happened to be staying on Abbott Kinney, right across the street from Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea:

My sun-glazed local girfriends and I stood in line behind throngs of sandaled So.Cal-types who all seem to be trying extremely hard to look glamorous in "casual wear" and perfectly nonchalant about their designer dogs. (It might have reminded me of a few hipster coffee bars here on Capitol Hill...but I'll save that for another time)

Besides the swanky crowd, I had no idea the bean & brew mecca I was entering.

Intelligentsia's concept features 5 different stations where 5 separate baristas personally attend to each customer, individually catering to their unique coffee whims, and “swiveling hydraulic pods” allow baristas to customize their workspace. Baristas here are like sommeliers, and they are meant to educate us as well as serve us. (Their most recent point of customer education was to eliminate the 20 oz drink from their menus, claiming quality over Starbucks-sized quantity.)

My barista was more patient than my grandma, tapping cones of freshly ground, single-origin beans with Japanese kettles, coffee syphoning drop by precious drop into my hands. Well worth the smooth caffe macchiato, although I still don't understand the $5 price tag.

These people mean business: I mean, for goodness sake, they have their own app ! showcasing the current coffee offerings with instructions and illustrations for preparing the coffee on multiple brewing devices (timers included, of course) :

This is coffee on the level of ... well ... I might say Stumptown

or Vivace

or Victrola.

Love them all.

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