Balconi is a cool little spot off Sawtelle that specializes in siphon brewed coffee. With the relatively recent boost in business growth around the “Little Osaka” area of West LA, a few coffee shops are also enjoying increased popularity. Balconi has existed as an established coffee destination since 1995, only recently moving to its current location roughly 1.5 years ago.
The shop is stylish in an old fashioned way. From the “oldie time” register stand with diodes and copper wiring to the decorative type writers, Balconi has a classiness right out of the early 19th centry. I suppose this is pretty appropriate since siphon coffee was the brewing method of choice for many until the percolators of the 60s and modern auto-coffee makers. Seeing as the shop is also from an older era of coffee, there is still physical evidence of a coffee nostalgia throughout the store, both in the presentation and coffee preparation. Balconi is moving from second wave into third but still holding it down somewhere in between. It’s good to see shops adapt to the current trends but maintain a solid distinction. Plus, who really rides waves? Their prominent display of glass apparatuses and the bar counter lined with siphons is an impressive sight. The literal bar arrangement is a really elegant and intimate touch. Balconi doesn’t miss out on little details either. I really liked their two group Linea with the blacked out pre-programmed since it forces shots to be pulled manually. Not terribly important to everyone, but things like that demonstrate what people are willing to do to ensure quality.
Siphon pots are their forte without a doubt. I really missed out by not ordering one and going with my standard cap. They use Handsome beans for their regular coffee, an excellent local roaster. The baristas at Balconi are very skilled at this method, so much so they were able to compete in the SCAA South West Regional Barista competition. Siphon has a unique flavor and consistency that many strive for. Few shops actually brew their coffee via this a delicate method, let alone do it well. Modeling itself around siphon is a great way to stand out.
My cap was good, but as a disclaimer, espresso at Balconi does not seem to have nearly as much emphasis as brewed coffee. The espresso flavor was bitter but in a pleasant way, which lingered prominently throughout the cup. The milk was steamed extremely hot and the foam was slightly thick, making the cap’s presentation and over all texture only decent.
One almost unnoticeable addition to the store that really demonstrated their attention to detail in presentation was their stationary. At every seat is a little note pad and a pen with their name on it. I took my notes onthis, it was a simple yet professional extra. I sat at the bar chatting with the barista at some length. If I could go out with my co workers after work for a drink at the bar, I would prefer going to Balconi; it is elegant, understated, and relaxing to say the least.
- The older decor
- The bar
- Siphon’s and Handsome
- Mellow atmosphere
11301 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles