Intelligentsia Silver Lake Coffee Bar: Coffee’s Third Wave

By Jaelynn Offerman

Los Angeles is home to an infinite amount of personalities, ranging anywhere from A-list celebrities to beach bums doing the robot for money at Venice Boardwalk. It’s the place where you can find top-notch doctors, young hipsters, and video vixens walking side-by-side. It’s the land where everyone works hard to make their dreams come true, whatever it may be. While the county is comprised of a diverse mix of people, it seems that the vast majority rely on one thing to get them through their busy day, caffeine.

As Gen Z and Millennials begin to take over the world (sorry, Baby Boomers and Gen X), people are steering away from coffee chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean. Instead of basking themselves in mainstream, substandard coffee, avid coffee drinkers are looking for authentic coffee shops that deliver quality based products. 

This artisanal trend, aka Coffee’s Third Wave, has allowed for an abundant amount of authentic coffee shops to thrive in Los Angeles. For instance, customers are willing to pay more money and wait in long lines in order to obtain high-quality and more unique goods. 

I emphasized “wait” because patience is not something you’d find in the typical “Angeleno.” So, basically, I was instantly sold on the hype. I sought out local coffee shops in the LA county, and, after two minutes of “researching” on Google, I decided to head to Intelligentsia located in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. 

Intelligentsia Silver Lake Coffee Bar

Since 2007, Silver Lake has become home to the pioneering chain, Intelligentsia. Resolute products have been offered since the beginning of Coffee’s Third Wave, making it one of the leading coffee shops in Los Angeles, as well as it’s other locations.

Location – 3.5/5 stars

Located right past the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue, Intelligentsia stands proudly on the busy street. It’s located near other shops, cafes, and restaurants, which means parking can become very limited since there are no designated parking lots around. Although, if you’re a lucky person like me, you’ll find street parking within two minutes of driving around. 

I was very impressed with Intelligentsia’s exterior and interior design. As you walk up to the coffee shop, you’ll find a nice outdoor patio with tables and seats perfect for catching up with friends or just plain people-watching. Be wary of doing work on your laptop, as they have a limited amount of outlets. Inside, there are tall seats along the left wall and around the mesmerizing blue-tiled bar/workstation. The mirrored walls create the perception that the shop is a lot larger and more spacious than it actually is. The relaxed, simple aesthetic of everything makes the shop a perfect fit for the neighborhood.

Atmosphere – 5/5 stars

During my visit to Intelligentsia, I found the majority of the people to be what society would categorize as “hipsters”. The lovely thing about Los Angeles, however, is that most of the time you’ll be able to find somewhat of a mixed crowd. Everyone seemed to be either socializing with one another, working, or just basking in the sun. It was a very different vibe than what you’d find at your local Starbucks. If you’re used to walking into a coffee shop and seeing people pull their hair out from work-related frustration, Intelligentsia will come as a refreshment to you. 

Maybe it was the hot summer day that made people slow down and seem genuinely content or the character of the people at the shop. Or, the drinks might have been so delicious, the customers couldn’t help but radiate happiness. I’d like to think the latter two contribute to the pleasant atmosphere I felt at Intelligentsia.

Efficiency of Staff – 5/5 stars

Seeing as this was a very popular coffee shop on Yelp, I was a bit nervous about the long lines and time I’d have to wait for my drink. I was prepared to deal with workers who were too stressed out and exhausted to remember to be cordial.

To my surprise, the line only consisted of a few people ahead of me. I was greeted by a friendly employee who was happy to answer any questions I had about their menu. By the time I ordered, walked over the register, and waited for one person to finish paying, my drink was ready. I was very grateful to only have waited about 3 minutes for my drink to get into my hand.

My Order: Iced Organic Emerald Spring – 4/5 stars

Now, I understand that I’ve been mainly talking about coffee in this article. However, in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen – oops, I mean summer in Los Angeles – I think I am allowed to enjoy a nice, cold tea. That being said, I ordered the nutty and buttery Iced Organic Emerald Spring Tea for $3.50.

Warning: If you enjoy naturally sweet or sugar-infused teas, this is not the drink for you. Or, at least not the first sip. This drink has slight bittersweet aftertaste; nevertheless, Intelligentsia offers sweeteners for those who prefer more sugary drinks. Personally, I am fine with drinking unsweetened tea, so I had no trouble enjoying my cold drink in the hot sun.

As put on their website, www.intelligentsiacoffee.com, “Emerald Spring is mildly vegetal without the strong grassy or oceanic notes often associated with some green teas. The nuttiness is complemented by a rich, butter body that further accentuates the more delicate flavors.” If you’re a tea or coffee connoisseur, this might mean something to you. Or, if you’re like me and are clueless to what Intelligentsia is saying, then let me try help you out. 

When I ordered, I didn’t quite know what to expect with this drink based on the description. However, after drinking my tea, I understood exactly what Intelligentsia was describing. The flavors were savory, yet not overbearing with a grass-like taste. The hint of nut, mixed with a buttery aftertaste led to a pleasant combination. I was very pleased with my decision. 

If you are a novice green tea drinker looking for a refreshing, nutty and buttery hint of flavor, this is a good choice for you.

Yes, I’ll be coming back.

As a first-timer, visiting this coffee shop was a great experience. The lines were short and the baristas were fast and efficient. Intelligentsia offers a simple list of drinks and fresh baked goods to try from, friendly staff, and an inviting atmosphere. I can definitely see myself coming back to try more drinks and enjoying the sun on their outdoor patio.

Overall Review: 4/5