Saturday, September 7, 2013

Slow Down and Drink Your Coffee: 2 Cafes I Love

Me without coffee
There are a tremendous amount of cafes to choose from in Los Angeles and anyone who is writing a screenplay, novel or television spec (or is pretending to) has spent endless hours nursing the dying foam of an hour old cappuccino at any one of those ever-so-tolerant establishments. So if you're from out of town and are wondering Who are all those people sitting around those wobbly wooden tables? That's who they are. They're the working writers, the want-to-be working writers, and the everyone else who make up LA's cafe population. Some swear by the familiarity of Starbucks while others insist on something a little more lauded and hoighty toighty (ie.: LA Mill or Intelligentsia). One thing they all have in common: They need their joe.

Fincas Cafe Ruiz, Tierra Mia
For me, when I go to a cafe, I often find myself close to home. I live in Highland Park and I tend towards either Cafe de Leche (they have Stumptown coffee. Nothing wrong with that) and The Highland Cafe, both located on York in the happenin' block of Avenue 50. My favorite of the two happens to be The Highland because not only do they offer good coffee (they serve Handsome) but there are three factors that really push it over the edge for me:

-  I like the interior which I find comfortable and relaxed.

- I feel a little cooler just by frequenting an establishment that sells Mexican Wrestling Masks...

- And they have these outrageously delicious homemade fruit danishes in the morning that will BA-LOW YOUR FREAKIN MIND. They make them in-house, they're called the Noname Pastries or Danishes, I think they're around 4-and-change and oh my God. Seriously. This morning I had a little bit of a strawberry one and a little bit of a mango one. They were still warm. RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN and into MY MEMORY BANK AS ONE OF THE MOST DELICIOUS THINGS I HAVE EVER EATEN. 

This is the "It's worth the trip" pastry.

As for coffee, pure and simple, we were recently up in San Francisco and I had a cup of coffee poured from the Papa November coffee truck in SoMa and holy caffeine, it was out of this world. I really thought We don't have coffee like this in LA. I am so glad to report I was completely and utterly wrong.

A cafe has popped up in Echo Park that is owned and operated by the hardest working coffee aficionado in the universe: Ulysses Romero. He is the proud creator of a small chain of cafes called Tierra Mia. There are now six Tierra Mias in Los Angeles and it's my understanding the most popular are in South Gate and Pico Rivera. He's also now ventured up north, recently opening a Tierra Mia in San Francisco between Bernal Heights and The Mission. Papa Bear, I send you my love but watch out because Tierra Mia makes a damn good cup of coffee.

Now if you're a cream and sugar person, I say this understanding your whole thing and I just want to let you know something: you can drink this mother black.

I do not lie, you can and will notice their taste descriptions are right on the money. If they say there are notes of Tamarind Orange or Honey, you can taste notes of Tamarind Orange or Honey. I'm serious. And impressed.

Menus change. This is from September 7, 2013
Their beans are all Latin American. Romero, who has fostered relationships with his growers, insures you're experiencing the highest quality, best tasting coffee. He is a true coffee snob and you benefit by his snobbery.

The place reflects the care and passion Romero feels for what he's doing. Tierra Mia has a sense to it that cleanliness is next to godliness and by God, I like my cafes clean. It's so rare! But it's also as if you've died and gone to Customer Service Heaven. I mean, come on. Just look at these guys!

I am an addict, but an addict with good taste who likes to be treated well. The people Romero employs are knowledgeable, professional and polite. They carry themselves with pride and you get the feeling it's an honor for them to serve you. Frankly, I love that so much, even if the coffee didn't taste so good, I'd probably go back to see that in someone's eyes.

But the coffee is that good. By the way, they're famous for their Horchatta Lattes & Frappes and you'll find pastries and such, many of which have a distinctive Mexican angle:

And yet I have rarely dipped my toe out of the cappuccino or cup of joe pool. Know that for the pour, they only offer it as an 8oz cup (which, by the way, will get you there). Also be aware you will have to wait like 4 or 5 minutes after you order since they take their time making your coffee just right. If you want a larger size cup of coffee they offer an Americano (espresso with hot water) but their espresso is so good you need not worry. No soupy, watery, acidic situation here. It will be delicious. I had one this morning.
As a result, I am now going to run around my block 70 times. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Highland Cafe is located at 5010 York Boulevard in Highland Park. 90042. Their hours are 9am-5pm, Mon thru Sun.
Tierra Mia is located at 1201 North Alvarado Street in Echo Park. 90026. It's open 7 days a week. 6:30am to 10:00pm.

Me after my first sip



  1. Great post! And thank you for teaching me how to spell "hoighty toighty"

  2. Um, I love this a lot - especially your before and after pics. They look EXACTLY like you!