From delivery-only espresso services to retro cafes in Thai Town, the Black-owned coffee shops of Los Angeles aren’t just serving you caffeinated drinks - they’re cultivating a deep sense of community. “Most coffee experiences are white-centered and white-male-centered, and are also usually literally physically white-box spaces,” explains Maurice Harris, owner of Bloom and Plume in Historic Filipinotown. “I really wanted to create a space that was literally filled with color, that was from a person of color’s perspective, that centered people of color, that had beauty all around it.”
Harun Coffee in Leimert Park doubles as an art gallery, and is curated with the work of a new Black artist every two months. Hot & Cool Cafe has partnered with the non-profit MISLA, to create a youth program that provides training and mentorship in tech, media, and design. And in addition to their smooth, buttery roasts and donations to survivors of the Rwandan Civil War and genocide, Jack Karuletwa of Silverback Coffee of Rwanda also partners with the African country’s government to improve the quality of care for the native endangered gorilla. The list goes on and on.
So, no. It’s not just about the coffee - LA’s Black-owned coffee shops are changing our neighborhoods, our city, and the world. Here’s a guide to 17 of them.
From the bright violet accents to the glowing neon sign out front, this Historic Filipinotown coffee shop feels like someone pumped saturation straight into its walls. Run by the incredible Maurice Harris (who also owns the neighboring floral studio of the same name), Bloom & Plume is more than just a place for caffeine - it’s a form of magic and resistance. “The society that we have is not set up for me to even have a business, or to be successful,” he explains. “And so the fact that I exist is a form of protest, a form of resistance, a form of standing up for our rights.” Drop by any day of the week and you’ll find a diverse assortment of community-based events, like free budgeting workshops, underwear donation drives, and weekly meditations as well as the best-looking breakfast sandwich we’ve ever seen, which comes with a fried egg, arugula, Havarti cheese, and strategically placed edible flowers.
Available for takeout, head to their website to place an order.
Created by Farah A. Hagar, author of Blackie Bohemian: Book of Questions, this Downtown LA coffee house is a sensory explosion of 1960s cultural icons lining the walls, thriving house plants, and fantastic, fresh-brewed coffee. The menu is a mix of espresso drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos, hot teas, small snacks (think savory avocado toast and organic oatmeal) as well as a variety of vegan smoothies containing everything from strawberries and bananas to turmeric and celery.
Available for takeout, visit their Spring St. storefront or call (213) 628-3086 to place an order.
Also located in Downtown LA, Boketto Cold Brew is a premium coffee and tea delivery system, born from founder Benjamin Westly’s desire to marry his high-end retail/commercial experience with a work schedule flexible enough to take care of his newborn daughter. He’s teamed up with some of North America’s best roasters and sommeliers to create a roster of cold brew espressos, teas, and flat or nitro-charged kegs that can even be delivered directly to your house. Pants while drinking, absolutely not required.
Head to their website for more details.
Over in Leimert Park, Harun Coffee is serving a first-class collection of smoothies, cold brews, and teas. But there’s more than just coffees here - co-owned by Chace Johnson, a former music executive who used to manage A$AP Rocky, Harun is a community hub, where you’ll find a gallery filled with artwork by new Black artists, free panels by entertainers and influencers, and a lifestyle clothing brand that will probably make you the coolest person in your apartment building.
Open for takeout, call (323) 815-9944 to place an order.
Co-owned by Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen is a cafe driven by a mission to bring quality ingredients and a sense of community to their three locations in View Park, Inglewood, and Eagle Rock. The two Los Angeles natives met each other while working at The Parlor in Hollywood, and are now serving a variety of croissants, donuts, açaí bowls, breakfast sandwiches, and more.
Open for takeout and delivery, check their website for details.
At Leimert Park’s Hot & Cool Cafe, owner Tony Jolly is working to build a community through coffee. Originally from Washington D.C., Jolly works with farmers directly to increase their visibility in the specialty coffee marketplace, like a 50-acre, woman-owned farm in Ethiopia whose beans he now imports to their storefront on Degnan Blvd. In addition to lattes, breakfast burritos, and house-blended loose leaf teas, Hot & Cool has also partnered with the non-profit MISLA, to create a youth program that provides training and mentorship in tech, media, and design.
Available for takeout and delivery, call (323) 903-6449 or place an order through their website.
In what originally began as a side-hustle, LA Grind Coffee & Tea Bar is a way for owner Vanessa Punche to connect with other people, provide high-quality products, and inspire young women of color to follow their dreams. The mobile coffee and tea catering business sources their beans from Cameroon, which have a creamy body and caramel, chocolate, and black currant notes.
Available for catering and shipping, head to their website for more details.
At Little Amsterdam, owner Joshua Mock works with CBD to combat stress, depression, inflammatories, and pain. From caramel macchiatos to cold brews to a lengthy menu of teas, many of the drinks at this Mid City cafe can be infused with CBD. Mock, a Baldwin Village local, also supports the surrounding community by offering free drinks to first responders and senior citizens, and hosts a community fridge.
Open for takeout, call (323) 452-9124 to place an order.
If you’re looking for coffee served with a side of nostalgia and magic - check out Nimbus Coffee, the brainchild of mother and daughter-duo, Shawn and Eviana Farrar. Located in Downtown LA, this Harry Potter-inspired shop has everything a caffeine-deficient wizard, witch, or magical creature could want, like Stumptown coffee, double shot lattes, plant-based shakes made with almond milk and spices, and something called “Giggle Waters” - a house-made elixir combining “the magic of fruits and herbs.”
Open for takeout only, visit their website to place an order.
Opened by Heather Knox and fiancé Joshua Oliveros, this very cool, retro-themed coffee shop in Thai Town is the perfect place to get your fix of cold brews, cortados, and their signature “golden milk cappuccino,” made with turmeric, milk, honey, and coconut sugar.
Available for takeout and delivery, head to their website to place an order.
Located in Compton, this organic coffee roaster is home to fantastic cold brews, tea lattes, and some of our favorite merch in the game. Founded by neighborhood locals Deanna and Geoffrey Martinez, the two opened Patria after a successful Indigegogo campaign and now serve their house-roasted coffee out of a cozy storefront on Alameda Street. Their seasonal dark roast is heavy and perfect for a French press, while their espresso beans are tinged with a fruity sweetness.
Available for takeout, delivery, and shipping, head to their website to place an order.
Named after the country’s endangered silverback gorillas, this local roaster and cafe serves as a way for founder Jack Karuletwa to give back to his homeland. Created in 2017, Silverback Coffee of Rwanda donates a portion of its profits to organizations that build schools in local Rwandan areas, as well as provides services to widows and orphans who have been impacted by the country’s massive genocide in 1994. He’s also partnered with the Rwandan government to improve the quality of care and growth of the native endangered gorilla. In short, he does it all.
Their Echo Park location is available for takeout and limited outdoor seating, call (213) 318-5048 to place an order.
Established in 2017, Sip & Sonder in Inglewood is not only the area’s first specialty coffee house - they also function as a publisher, creative studio, event space, and bonafide community hub. Their flagship outpost on S. Market St. now has limited outdoor seating, where you can enjoy a variety of espressos, hot teas, and pastries. Co-owners Amanda-Jane Thomas and Shanita Nicholas have also just announced the return of their Virtual Black Business Pitch Competition - a live competition in which 10 finalists will be selected to virtually pitch their businesses live in front of a panel of judges handpicked from the Black Venture Capital community. Three winners will receive $5,000 in cash, and all applicants will have free access to two The Learning Series workshops and the live virtual pitch event.
Available for takeout, call (424) 800-2242 to place an order.
This family-owned shop is on a mission to build community through coffee, culture and connection. Owned by husband and wife duo, Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace, the two have returned to the neighborhood they grew up in to offer fresh, affordable, and healthy food options in an area where there are typically few. In addition to hot and cold drinks, South LA Cafe also serves quick bites like croissants, muffins, and coffee cakes, as well as a monthly grocery box filled with produce, dry goods, and dairy - which you can either buy for yourself, or provide one for a neighbor in need by becoming a sponsor.
Available for takeout and delivery, check their website for details.
Glendora’s leading purveyor of “serious gourmet sh*t”, The Reverse Orangutan is a local coffee roasting company with locations in both Claremont and along Route 66. Open since 2018, co-owners Jamil Radney and Geoffrey Clark are working to bring unique and exceptional coffees to their neighborhood and beyond, with blends such as the Gudina - an Ethiopian bean roast with jasmine, lime peel, and nectarine tasting notes or their Death Before Decaf - a caffeine-free blend made with Ethiopian heirloom varietals and cherries hand-sorted by farmers.
Available for takeout and nationwide shipping.
Located in La Cienega Heights, Undergrind Cafe is a relaxed neighborhood coffee shop serving all-day breakfast foods like flavored lattes, sweet cream pancakes, and veggie wraps. Owned by husband and wife duo, Rachel and Ron Sazon, the two started Undergrind Cafe in the summer of 2018 after a successful round of crowdfunding, in an effort to craft a greater sense of community in the area.
Available for delivery only, call (310)730-6392 or order through their website.
More of a community center than a cafe, Watts Coffee House’s origins can be traced all the way back to 1965, when a group of local teens converted an abandoned building into Watts Happening Coffee House - a community arts space that later became an epicenter for Black artists, activists, and residents. Today, owner and chef Desiree Edwards, a Los Angeles native, uses that space to serve soul food like Cajun fried lobster tail, shrimp poboys, and buttermilk biscuits smothered in turkey sausage gravy.
Available for takeout and delivery, call (323) 249-4343 to place an order.