In the wake of the Handsome exodus, Los Angeles found itself with seasoned baristas looking to open new coffee shops. Handsome co-founder Tyler Wells has done just that with Blacktop, an espresso bar in the Arts District of Downtown L.A. We journeyed through the red sea to discover if there was manna from heaven awaiting us on the opposite shore.
Blacktop of the Game
Blacktop coffee is the archetypal stop-n-go coffee shop. We expected a minimalist setup, but were impressed to find the magical aspects that we’ve all come to know and love from a neighborhood coffee spot. Blacktop is the kind of place you’d meet a friend on a lazy Sunday, or stop to pick up some coffee on your way to work. It doesn’t try to be more than that. In Tyler’s words, Blacktop is a place “where people can stop in and have a drink, a little two minute bright spot in their day, and go on to whatever’s next.”¹
Out of Sight
The 250 sq-ft. shop itself doesn’t necessarily invite you to stay within its confines, but the coffee invites you to come back. Blacktop is using Sightglass exclusively and there’s plenty of outdoor seating to ponder the meaning of life. I had a single origin shot of the Guatemala Cubito, Carlos Olivero and it was a bright, drupe-tastic experience. For some reason, the West Coast has something against handles, but we’re not complaining. All drinks are served in handleless vessels and they’re amazing. I’d say that Plato is up in his world of forms using these cups, but someone already beat me to this metaphor.
Many shops try to evade “hipster” associations, but Blacktop seems to embrace it. The shop has a seamless entry into Alchemy Works, a gallery and retail space (seen below) showcasing brands such as Warby Parker, which had a “Glass House” corner of the gallery for showcasing their frames. Living the literary life never felt so good while sipping a cortado.
Blacktop Coffee Conclusions
If you’re downtown, it’s worth it. If you’re a local and/or you work downtown, you should make it a weekly, if not daily occurrence. And while you’re nearby, we suggest you check out Pocketo for some souvenirs, and Wurstküche Restaurant for some self-proclaimed, exotic grilled sausages.
Location: 826 E 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours of Operation (as of 8/13/2014): 7am-7pm everyday
Phone Number: 213-488-9182
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All photos by Darren Jennings