Location: 1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
Reviewed: June 13, 2009
Espresso: Intelligentsia serves their famous Black Cat in addition to a seasonally-rotating succession of single origins. Shots are ground-to-order, and poured on Synessos. Temperature is adjusted periodically along with grind. My shot (I selected Black Cat), was poured to about 1.75oz. in a white ceramic demi. It had a thick dark brown crema, along with a chocolate-milk-like sweetness.
Atmosphere: The concept of the Venice location of Intelligentsia is a rather unusal departure for a coffeebar. It features a few benches along the walls, giving limited seating, and no tables whatsoever. There are no fewer than five separate barista workstations at which customers may be served. When a customer is not being served, they are held at the front desk. Apparently the point is to better facilitate barista-customer interaction, but I don't know how well it will work for anyone other than the afficionados, who probably manage to have a high level of interaction with their barista anyway.
Verdict: Strange concept, but excellent espresso.