Cafe Dulce is a small bakery in Japantown that features local LAMill roasted coffee. This is my first experience with LAMill coffee. I had never heard about them prior to this trip and I generally hear little about the LA coffee scene besides Intellgentsia, Handsome, or S.O. There are lots of little shops here and there featuring accredited roasters, but my experience with most have been par. Cafe Dulce had a very standard menu and the same LM GB5 I have seen in many bakery/coffee shops. While I will go into further detail later on, while solid, my cap lacked character in comparison to other roasters.
Today, I actually ordered a cold brew and my old man got the cap. Midway through taking photos I had an odd experience. The employee at the register boasted something to the effect of, “this guy over here (barista) is famous, he wins art competitions.” I was stoked and replied, “oh cool, so have I.” Wait, have I? I won a jam. We all had kind of a nervous laugh and the same employee replied, “no seriously, he has.” Was I supposed to be impressed or intimidated? I guess a little of both. Before I could really mull over how to respond cordially, I got nervous and blurted out, “Yeah, so have I.” Crap, not really what I expected. And, I looked like a jerk. I was a little taken aback; I am no pro, but whaaaat?
The guys seemed intrigued and started asking me about where I worked and if it was “third wave.” I don’t ride waves, unless it’s literal waves. Wait, I don’t do that either. In any case, I explained I have worked with 2nd and 3rd wave shops. It seems that every time people try to undermine the existance of a paradigm and the falsities of “black/white” concepts , we find another way to create static categories. Calling things “third wave” also sounds kind of gimmicky. It is like going to shows as a kid and having people ask if you are “scene,” it just seems silly. In any case, after a short chat, I realized they were just curious not trying to show ego. Just to say though, there are a lot of good baristas putting out good coffee…
The cap itself left a little to be desired. As the barista had boasted, the art was very well done. However, the cap was extremely wet even by “wet” standards with virtually no foam. The espresso flavor was also lacking; though they did a standard 8oz, it tasted more milky than anything else. The temperature was good, but the flavor was a little weak. My 18 hour coldbrew was solid. I am happy to see more places doing authentic cold-brew, but I guess I am just kind of tired of the saturated flavor of the process.
My old man got one of the pastries from Cafe Dulce, a Macadamia donut. This was actually quite tasty coming from what seemed like a “commercial” bakery. Though very sweet, it had a nice chewy texture and tasted pretty fresh. All of their baked goods looked enticing.
The location of Cafe Dulce is the bread and butter. It is in the heart of the slowly regentrifying LA Japantown. Not only is the shop super clean and bright, it also has great outdoor seating for people watching in J-town. Being located in a heavily traveled pedestrian area, Dulce sees a fair amount of customers despite their quality products.
Cafe Dulce is more of a bakery than a coffee shop, especially since they put the bar towards the back. Despite my rather odd experience, it is a solid stop in J-town for a good treat.
The brand just launched their new site with some great new features, check it out: http://www.cafedulcelosangeles.com
- Outdoor seating
Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 346-9910