intelligentsia coffee

chicago born, california grown

Why do I feel like LA loves Intelligentsia more than its own hometown does? Intelligentsia anchors the hipster centrals of both east and west LA with the Sunset Junction and Abbot Kinney locations. Intelligentsia is the third wave coffee shop. It was also my introduction to the world of third wave coffee shops, the first time I realized a coffee shop could be (should be) more than just a nicely decorated Starbucks during Christmas.

Of course, as much as it has been integrated into LA’s coffee scene, Intelligentsia hails from Chicago. They’ve been around long before the word “hipster” even entered into our cultural vocabulary. Over the years, the brand has become pervasive, showing up on grocery store shelves and as the beans of choice at both stereotypical trendy cafes in LA and rather surprising no-frill diners in Chicago. But nothing quite beats people watching (and dog watching) while sitting in the tiled cafe courtyard in the heart of Silver Lake.

Regardless, Intelligentsia is the trusty choice for quality coffee across both cities, in addition to outposts in New York, Boston and Austin.

the details

LocationsListed here
YelpChicago Locations | Los Angeles Locations
Hoursmost are open at 6 or 7am, closing hours ary from 6pm to 10pm depending on location and day
Price$$ – as you’d expect, ~$4-6 for drinks
Aesthetictbh varies across locations, kind of built to fit the vibe of each neighborhood, but all tasteful and trendy 

good to know

Go here for: coffee culture, to garner respect from coffee folk, etc

Order this: they do their espresso drinks well

Amount of time to spend: anywhere from a 5 minute stop by to a half day of leisurely coffee-drinking, chatting and “working”

When to come: whenever you need a quality cup of coffee


  • Silver Lake: generally nightmarish to snag a meter around this strip of Sunset, but if you’re lucky, the side streets (south/west of Sunset) sometimes have spots.
  • Venice: Parking is never fun in Venice, but try your luck on the street behind Abbot Kinney, they have public parking in the back and free parking by the residential area.
  • Hollywood: this location is a little too close to the touristy central part of Hollywood, but if you come in the mornings, it’s usually not too hard to find a meter nearby.
  • Pasadena: in downtown Pasadena, there are several public parking structures. Some have free parking for the first hour or two, others don’t, so be sure to read the signs.


Other things to note: 

  • Most locations have wifi, but the outlets situation is not great, so even though there are usually dozens of laptops in the room, it’s better for short working sessions.
  • They don’t just sell coffee and tea, they also sell a bunch of accessories around coffee culture, both in-store and online.
  • Intelligentsia is also a thought leader in the coffee world, hosing training, workshops and events across the country.

Last visited: February 2020

Last updated: April 2020

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