The Official APS March Meeting Coffee Ranking

Coffee is to a physics conference as beer is to a hockey game. While some patrons want quantity over quality, I would prefer to relish my coffee. I want to fall in love with my coffee. I want a coffee I could bring home to Mom. But hey, you do you. I just want to help. I will rate and review as many coffees as possible and report my findings daily.

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Thursday

8) Verve Coffee – pour over – $4.00

Taste: 10/10

Price: 4/10

This is the only true specialty coffee shop I’ve found so far. With that in mind, the coffee was incredible, and they had many beans available for sale. But with that, comes a greater price. This is exactly what I wanted, but it may not be for the average coffee drinker. I would highly recommend for the specialty coffee enthusiast but if you just like a good cup and don’t want to think too much about it, don’t bother.

Wednesday

7) Impresso – Americano – $3.00

Taste: 9/10

Price: 7/10

Ding ding ding! We have a winner. The first coffee I was truly impresso’d with. Another shop that doesn’t seem too concerned with bean specifics, but I can tell you their Americano was appropriately dark and chocolatey. If anything, maybe it was a bit dilute for my tastes, but at this point I’m splitting hairs. Worth the trip.

Tuesday

4) Philz Coffee – pour over – $3.50
Taste: 8/10
Price: 6/10

I have to thank the March Meeting staff for this recommendation. Philz is a 5-10 minute walk from the conference center and is worth the trip. They offer a large selection of coffees sorted into “dark, medium, light, and decaf” designations. It appears all coffees are pour-over, made to order which is fine by me. Flavor notes of all varieties are listed, but place of origin or bean varietal is not. I ordered the “New Manhattan”, a light roast that was marketed as having notes of cherry and citrus. I disagree with the citrus, but as the cup cooled the cherry flavor become more obvious. I would predominantly call this a floral coffee – one of those light roasts that more resembles tea than a deep, bold Americano. If I were guessing origin, I would say likely a blend, but maybe Ethiopian? A generous small will run you $3.50 which seems to be approximately the sweet spot of prices in LA. I would highly recommend the trip.

Philz wasn’t the prettiest shop I’d ever seen, but the graffiti on the other side of the road was nice.

5) Cow Cafe – drip coffee – $3

Taste: 8/10

Price: 7/10

Wow, APS Meeting staff know their stuff. Cow Cafe was a 5 minute walk from the center and had some nice fresh food as well (grilled halloumi sandwich anyone?) As for the coffee… In short, very satisfied. Unfortunately their espresso machine was broken which meant they only had drip. Luckily, they really nailed their drip! Another blend, this time two South American varietals. The end result was a smooth, sweet, slightly chocolatey medium roast. Very easy drinking, no bitterness at all. I highly recommend going for lunch. My only criticism is not calling it a Calfe.

6) Kaffebaren – Americano – $3.00

Taste: 7/10

Price: 7/10

Another completely fine Americano… What I’m starting to find is that the “third wave” gourmet coffee culture I’m used to in Hamilton might not be as big here. I’m still getting fairly confused looks when I ask what kind of coffee they’re brewing. All have been blends, none could tell me much about the roasters they buy from. Don’t get me wrong, there is no problem with this, but it certainly makes for a dull adventure. Kaffebaren was a very cool looking cafe/bar (who woulda guessed?) in the fashion district. In fact, on my walk there I saw three independent photo shoots happening. As for the cafe itself – they boasted 63 beers on tap, which seems hard to believe. No taps were visible, so I assume they are in the back or something. I would not make the trip again for the coffee (it was very average, nothing about it stood out) but I would come back for the beer.

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I think that’s all I can handle today. This afternoon became quite warm. If this keeps up I may have to switch to iced coffee…

Monday

1) InterContinental hotel, downtown LA – Americano – $4.75

Taste: 6/10

Price: 2/10

A totally reasonable coffee at a fairly unreasonable price. No real discernable flavor notes, just a standard dark roast you would expect from a chain, but without the burnt taste. Good coffee to water ratio. Very poor for the cost. Skip it.

2) APS Limited Edition 9:30-10:00 – batch brew – free

Taste: 4/10

Price: 10/10

It’s free, and it’s right outside the session you’re in. I would never accuse it of being “good”, but strong and it’s free. However, it’s only available for 30 minutes a day. How’s that for a “micro-lot” coffee?

3) COFFEE (Taste of LA, main lobby of conference center) – Americano – $3.00

Taste: 7.5/10

Price: 6.5/10

The first coffee I can honestly recommend. The price is what one would expect to pay in Canadian dollars, which suggests to me it is slightly inflated. Regardless, a solid dark roast, minimal burnt taste. Well extracted shot, not particularly bitter. No real “sweetness” or interesting flavor notes, but a solid, classic “espresso”.

All right, I’m jittery and feel a little sick. Back tomorrow with more data.

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