Best places to buy coffee beans

Stopped by Cognoscenti yesterday for some Guerrilla Tacos and noticed they’re now roasting their own beans. The counter person said they’ve been doing this for a few months now. Anyone tried them?

Also, where are your favorite places to buy beans generally?

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Picked up some Cognoscenti beans during my Guerilla run yesterday. The Ethiopia Chelchele Gedeb. Very tasty. Sweet and almost floral in flavor.

Still, at $20 a 12 oz. bag it’s a tough sell when I can get beans that are as good or better for $15 right nearby at Bar Nine.

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Woah. $20 is steep.

I’ve never really been drawn to Cognoscenti. It’s always felt a bit like it’s the snobby coffee shop stereotype come to life. Others seem to like it though. I definitely go to Bar Nine more often (as evidenced by the many take-away glasses currently in my cupboard.) But for me, Blue Bottle still offers the best coffee in LA and are my go-to for beans. So consistently solid.

The whole notion of individual shops (read: amateurs) roasting their own beans is a bit overrated, if not a complete farce. This includes even big commercial chains like Starbucks.

Just about every coffee chain (second, third wave, or the next tidal wave) all are roasting to the second crack. Which means that the coffee bean has been over roasted. For just about any bean, the optimal point of roasting is between first and second crack. Once you hit the second crack, the bean is fully expanded, which means the bean is over roasted and burnt. And the natural flavors from the beans that have cultivated to reflect its terroir and lineage is now muted, if not completed overpowered.

Next time you’re at the shop, ask to see their roasted beans that they’ve roasted in-house. Chances are they will be almost black and covered in oil. Roasted to the second crack. And, no doubt they will show off those beauties to you with pride.

Roasting is an art, just like brewing coffee. Roaster don’t try to sell you coffee (the liquid, not the beans). That’s cuz they’re smart. The barristas should take a lesson here from the roasters.

Sorry, rant over.

Enjoy your brew!

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Interesting. Thanks for the info.

What beans would you recommend looking into that roast “between first and second crack?”

At least for San Diego roasters like Zumbar and Caffe Calabria have a number of in-house roasted beans which are definitely not overroasted. In LA we had beans from Cafe Luxx which were perfectly fine and even though there are obviously roasters you tend to overroast your statement is too general

@President_Mochi: $20 is indeed a little on the high side, but not out of line with other third-wave roasters. A single-origin coffee will run you $20 at Blue Bottle for a 12 oz bag. Remember, the paper bags Blue Bottle sells in the stores are smaller, around 8-10 oz I think.

I started going to Cognoscenti mostly because of Guerilla Tacos, but I’ve really come to appreciate their well curated selection of beans from around the country. They’ve turned me onto some great roasters, including Heart from Portland and Commonwealth from Denver.

I’m with you, though, Blue Bottle’s still my favorite, too. Their Three Africans is my go-to coffee. Between them, Bar Nine, and Cognoscenti, that area’s really become a murderers’ row of great coffee shops!

@ipsedixit: No need to wait! There’s a pic of the beans in my hopper below. I’m no roasting expert, but they look right around the first crack or just past. You can still see the remains of the skin on some of the beans, and they certainly aren’t nearly black or shiny with oil. As I say, they were very sweet.

@honkman: Have you tried Cafe Virtuoso in San Diego? I’m a big fan, personally.

Are the beans in the photo from Cognoscenti?

Wow…of all the LA roasters I think you picked the most overroasted micro-roaster possible as a point against overroasting?

Source? 2nd wave, almost assuredly. 3rd wave?.. Very unlikely. Most shops are not just dinky little shops choosing to roast their own beans, they are roasters with shops. Pretty much every great roaster also runs shops (at least locally to their operations).

My former ex (or is that redundant, cuz whoever says “current ex”? but we digress).

She is in the coffee bean sourcing and importing business and knows about the buyers of her product more than she knows about SKII cosmetics. Which is a lot.

@bulavinaka: They are!

@ipsedixit: I think what doesn’t compute, though, is that most third-wave coffee places don’t sell beans that are “almost black and covered in oil.”

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Definitely, but it is nice to have the cheaper option, even if there’s a bit less coffee. I’ve been doing their subscription for a while, which is a great way to try some of their different beans.

Yes! Both great. I’m especially a fan of Commonwealth. A bit biased since I’m from Denver, though. Was happy to see them getting some recognition.

Guys at G&B had good things to say about Camber Coffee they recently started carrying… anyone tried it yet?

Most of the new places don’t go overboard producing black oily beans… I’ve had good success with Intelligentsia, Trystero, Klatch beans… Similar shade as @Bigmouth’s… Obviously espresso specific lean towards a darker roast…

Interesting article by LA Weekly highlighting local roasters including Cognoscenti. I’m surprised how many of these I’ve never tried.

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I may be mistaken, haven’t been to Bar 9 for a while, but I thought the beans there were in the range of $20-$22/12oz. bag, NOT $15/bag?

Conservatory for coffee… in CC really hits the sweet spot for me on their beans, not too light and def not burnt. Lets you really taste the beans point of origin. But I have been been meaning to check out Bar 9, I’ve had barista’s at other places really talk them up. Curious to see how they stack up to Go get 'em Tiger and some of my other favorites.

What does everyone think about single origin espresso shots like at Cognoscenti? Really I just don’t get it, often I end up with sour espresso which is okay if you are having a milky drink but off putting straight. Too hit and miss for me.


Just picked up a pound of organic Costa Rica at Conservatory in CC. The staff really enjoys being there. My only gripe is their hours are somewhat narrow - maybe that’s partly why the employees always seem to be happy.


They also do pour over off of that counter in the back, your choice of what ever they have roasted