5 Best Coffee Shops in L.A.’s Eastside

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I’ve traveled far and wide in search of the best cup of joe. I found myself in Seattle unimpressed by the abundance of medium roasts. Call me a coffee snob, but there’s nothing like a good, strong cup of caffeine to get your creative juices flowing.You see, I was raised with a dark roast palette, which coffee experts claim are burnt beans, but I’ve always believed the blacker the berry…

When I’m not brewing my own at home, these are the shops I venture to in L.A.’s eastside:

La Monarca

This super clean and bright bakery was founded by Mexicans Ricardo Cervantes and Alfredo Livas, who yearned for the delicious breads they were raised on while studying in the U.S. and decided to stay and open their own panaderia. La Monarca uses all-natural ingredients for their baked goods and organic (dark roast) coffee from Oaxaca. Their skilled team of pastry chefs are super sweet and let you sample the plethora of cakes, pastries and pan. My picks are the guayaba con queso crema croissant, chicken mole torta, and Mexican mocha. La Monarca also supports the ECOLIFE Foundation, which protects Monarch butterflies in Michoacan by planting trees so locals get firewood without sacrificing the butterflies’ natural habitat. Pan dulce for a cause. That’s what’s up!

La Monarca Bakery
5700 E Whittier Blvd.,
Commerce, CA 90022;
also in Santa Monica, Huntington Park, and coming soon to South Pasadena.

Urth Caffe

Located in downtown’s burgeoning Arts District, Urth is a perfect place to meet friends for lunch, take a date, or bullshit with your best friend. It also boasts some seriously strong coffee in soup-size cups. Their healthy menu consists of soups, salads, sandwiches, and bomb desserts that won’t leave you with that I-just-defeated-the-purpose-of-my-workout feeling. Don’t leave without a bag of their Manhattan Mudd coffee beans.

Urth Caffe
451 S Hewitt St.,
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Primera Taza

Conveniently located by the Mariachi Plaza Metro stop, Primera Taza is just what Boyle Heights needed—an actual coffee shop to sit and write poetry, work on a laptop, or meet beatnik-type writers who inspire you (that’s what I do here at least).

1850 1/2 E 1st St Boyle Heights, CA 90033.

Holy Grounds Coffee & Tea

Um. Can somebody say heaven on earth? The owner, Steve Boland, is my idol. I mean, he opened exactly what I envision my dream coffee shop to be: beautiful handcrafted mosaic-tiled tables and wooden chairs, a lush outdoor patio with hummingbird-attracting fruit trees, agave, and funky decor. Their cafe de olla is just like mom makes it.

Holy Grounds Coffee & Tea
5371 Alhambra Ave., El Sereno, CA 90032.

Homegirl Cafe

I’m a firm believer in second chances, and that’s what Homeboy Industries is all about. Located on the fringe of Chinatown, downtown, and Lincoln Heights, Homeboy Cafe serves solid coffee and healthy updates on traditional Mexican fare by reformed cholos/as who take your order with just enough attitude to keep you on your toes.

Homegirl Cafe
130 W Bruno St.,
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012.