I’m lucky in where I live. One of my favorite coffee places, Caffe Luxxe at 925 Montana in Santa Monica, is very nearby — close enough that I can walk to it. Such joy.
What makes Caffe Luxxe such a wonderful place? First, their coffee. Their coffee is amazing. They do a northern Italian roast that’s strong but also mild. I usually get the cafe latte, but have also had pots of their press coffee. There’s a variety of different sorts of coffee available for the press coffee; most recently I had Ethiopian. The press they serve it in is great because its insulated so it holds the heat for about an hour. There is a sweetness to their coffee that means I generally don’t choose to add anything to it. Coffee is served in cups with saucers and tiny spoons.
In addition to coffee and Italian soda, Caffe Luxxe serves pastries and sandwiches. The selection varies but the emphasis is on small, intensely flavored, rather than large portions. They also sell a selection of chocolates, candies and cookies at the counter.
The seating is simple painted wood tables and chairs. The colors are a restrained grey palette with soft lighting that makes it feel cool even on hot days. While they do serve shaken iced beverages, they do not serve any blended drinks, which means there isn’t the roar of blenders to drown out the gentle music — which varies. The last time I was there, they were playing an Italian opera.
Is it a good place to talk? Absolutely. If you can get a table (cafe gets busy and seating is limited) it’s a great place to sit and have a quiet chat with a friend. Is it a good place to read? Definitely, at least for a little while. Is it a good place to work? Yes, but with caveats. Caffe Luxxe does not offer wifi and there’s none nearby to leech off. I don’t see this as a drawback though. It makes it a perfect place for me to write, free of the distractions that email and the ‘net offer. I wrote good chunks of my dissertation sitting quietly there at a table by the outlet, drinking cup after cup of wonderful latte and press coffee. I do try and be considerate and not go in there to work at times when they’re very busy.
Caffe Luxxe has several locations, but I’ve only been to the Montana one. I recommend it so highly that I almost didn’t recommend it at all to keep it greedily to myself. In addition to the food and drink, Caffe Luxxe also sells some lovely-smelling, but expensive lotions and great hand-pressed greeting cards. So in addition to going in for coffee, I can also pick up unique cards for friends and family.
My best Caffe Luxxe story? Shortly after they opened, I had been going there most mornings. As I said, it’s near enough to walk from my apartment. But by that I mean it’s several blocks, not right next door. I got there, waited in line, ordered my latte and then realized I’d forgotten to bring my purse and had no way to pay. The person working the counter immediately said “bring it next time. No one should go without their morning coffee.” I’m not much into pretending that Los Angeles or even Santa Monica are small towns, they’re not. But with that friendly gesture, Caffe Luxxe won my loyalty.