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These 8 Spots Have Some of the Best Coffee in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Looking for some of the best spots for coffee in Koreatown, Los Angeles? Check out these 8 places we’ve vetted for great coffee and ambiance.

Los Angeles is famous for its duality of having the most donut shops per capita and being the bastion of health food. Chances are that right next to the donut shop, you’ll find a macrobiotic vegan joint or a destination grocery store that costs just as much as dining at the former. But although Seattle and San Francisco get all the fanfare for their coffee shop culture, LA is no slouch in this department despite being known more for washing down crullers with kale smoothies.

Koreatown in particular is an overflowing gold mine of coffee shops. They’re on literally just about every block. Local and international coffee shop and bakery chains proliferate with at least five Paris Baguette stores to be found in a 0.5-mile radius. Other holdouts like Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Korea-based franchise Tom N Tom’s Coffee can be easily found throughout the neighborhood tucked inside various developments or with surprisingly large freestanding stores. But there are also a plethora of independent coffee shops and cafes, and some lesser-known chains, throughout Koreatown that are worth visiting whether you’re thinking of moving there or you’re just passing through.

Ktown has zounds of coffee shops where you can study, work, or just decompress with a hot drink. Here’s the LA Digs roundup of the best coffee shops in Koreatown.

1. About Time Cafe

About Time Cakes
Black sesame and matcha chocolate gateau among other East Asian flavors populate the bakery case at the hip new China-based coffee chain making footfall in LA, About Time Cafe. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Most of the coffee shops in Koreatown tend to cultivate a loyal following from locals who live in or very close to the neighborhood. Since About Time Cafe’s opening made a huge splash in Koreatown thanks to a viral TikTok, people come from all over the greater Los Angeles area to lounge in this location’s serene courtyard with an afternoon pick-me-up.

The incredibly spacious cafe is pet-friendly and has two levels in addition to plentiful indoor and outdoor seating. With delicious fresh bagels served until 2PM daily and a variety of breakfast sandwiches and lattes representing Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino flavors, About Time Cafe is proving to be a popular breakfast spot in addition to being open very late. The aesthetics are more reminiscent of an upscale hotel or startup than your average coffee shop, and the layout is designed to camp out with friends, your dog, or laptop for a spell rather than poke down your croissant and leave after barely completing one assignment.

While on the pricey side, even for Koreatown, it’s worth visiting About Time Cafe at least once just for the experience. Food is served on real dishes in wooden trays, with no shortage of people-watching given the prime location. Whether you need to hunker down to work or sip a matcha latte on a sunny day, About Time Cafe is the spot.

2. Cafe Mak

Cafe Mak Exterior
Cafe Mak on Shatto Place and 6th Street skillfully arranged some respite between a parking lot, a frenetic middle school, and Metro hub. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Cafe Mak isn’t exactly a coffee shop in the traditional sense: it’s truly a class of its own. Unfortunately, you can’t come here for a commuter breakfast despite the cafe’s convenient proximity to two Metro lines because they don’t open til 11AM. But when they do open, you can order off a menu featuring classic coffee shop fare like lattes and tea and dessert selections, alongside noodle dishes and sandwiches.

The deceptively small-looking cafe has welcoming vibes indoors with sun-drenched tables up front and several more tables in the back prime for camping out with one’s laptop. In spite of being near intensely busy intersections and institutions while juxtaposed to a parking lot, Cafe Mak’s leafy outdoor dining area provides a surprisingly bucolic hideaway for Koreatown residents who don’t have yards or other private outdoor space.

Cafe Mak Tea
Most coffee shops give you a cup, maybe a generously-sized paper one if you’re lucky, for $7 worth of tea. Cafe Mak gives you an entire French press! // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

While Cafe Mak is popular for a light dinner if you live in the neighborhood, the cafe attracts guests from all over central LA who come for the Instagrammable brick toast that comes in garlic and honey varieties.

Cafe Mak Brick Toast
This is the garlic version. Actual garlic butter permeates the bread underneath the chocolate and caramel sauces, Fruity Pebbles, and dollop of cream, and somehow it just WORKS. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

If you’ve already ordered food, you’ll probably need a friend or date to help you demolish the infamous brick toast. Yes, this intense cube of bread is worth the 20-minute wait. Although it is also quite satisfying to tear apart by yourself like a Komodo dragon if it’s been an extremely long time since breakfast and you need to order one in the name of journalistic integrity.

3. Alchemist Coffee Project

Alchemist Exterior
While Alchemist Coffee Project doesn’t have much in the way of outdoor seating, their vast menu and cozy atmosphere make up for it. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Formerly known as Bourbon Street Cafe due to the heavy influence of New Orleans cuisine and coffee culture, Alchemist Coffee Project is a beloved Koreatown institution. Conveniently located just one block south of the Wilshire Vermont Metro station and plaza, in a corner strip mall with other dining options nearby, the upscale Koreatown coffee shop serves a variety of artisan lattes and pastries with their original New Orleans-style cold brew remaining a top seller.

Alchemist Interior
The Vermont Avenue location has plentiful seating and coffee beans to go in addition to their specialty lattes. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Savory sandwiches and avocado toast are available until 3PM.

Alchemist Coffee also has another location near the Wilshire Western Metro station, located in The Pearl on Wilshire which is a mixed-use development. According to their Instagram, a third location is due to open in Fall 2024 at The Cumulus, a luxury apartment complex in Culver City.

4. Cafe Mooi

Cafe Mooi
Tucked away on the second floor of City Center on 6th, this hidden gem features fresh bagels and black sesame lattes. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Cafe Mooi is a hidden gem tucked inside the City Center on 6th mini-mall between Alexandria and Mariposa. The small coffee shop has a few seats indoors and a couple in the mall area across the from the voluminous City Center food court, plus tables outside for food court patrons and H-Mart shoppers.

The three-level mini-mall has a variety of shopping, dining, and recreation options, and Cafe Mooi is one of the best-kept secrets among Ktown locals for where to get a black sesame latte. Standard coffee and tea styles are served, but the black sesame latte is what keeps regulars coming back.

You’ll want to get there bright and early. While City Center on 6th is open fairly late, Cafe Mooi closes at 3PM.

5. Concerto Bakery & Caffe

Concerto Bakery & Caffe is always bustling on the ground floor of City Center on 6th across from the H-Mart. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Not to be confused with the similarly-named Concerto Italian-Korean fusion joint on Serrano Avenue, Concerto Bakery & Caffe sits on the ground floor of the City Center on 6th mini-mall. Conveniently located directly across from the checkout lanes at H-Mart, they’re open with varieties of lattes on tap and treasure troves of baked goods if you got there too late for a black sesame latte from Cafe Mooi.

Fluffy loaves of Pullman bread line the counter behind cases of specialty croissants running the gamut from Oreo-encrusted to black garlic. Classic European-style baked goods like croissants and macarons are plentiful, but there are several Korean and Japanese baked goods like squid ink sesame balls, red bean buns, mugwort mochi, and manjoo.

While Concerto does steady business at their cake counter where you can order custom cakes for parties or buy one premade, the coffee shop side is always bustling. It’s a popular spot for dates, business meetings, and Meetup groups given the mini-mall’s convenient location and Concerto’s sprawling menu that make it beloved for visitors and locals alike.

6. Markeat 8/Calic Bagel

Calic Bagel Exterior
The coffee and bagel shop on 8th Street turns into a pizza joint by night but is a popular neighborhood breakfast spot. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

The Markeat 8 plaza on 8th Street and Hoover at Ktown’s eastern boundary is currently home to Calic Bagel, a buzzing breakfast spot that serves up those garlic cream cheese-filled bagels seen all over TikTok and Instagram.

If that’s a little much for you in the morning, Calic Bagel also sells plain bagels and a plethora of schmears on the side. Where many New York City expats set up bagel shops in Angel City to keep a piece of their heritage with them, Calic Bagel inverts bagel culture by refusing to slice bagels after toasting them: they mention in all of their menu copy that you twist pieces of your bagel into the schmear like it’s guacamole.

Despite this claim, you can still just get a butter knife with your bagel and eat it in the California sun with a macchiato. Outdoor seating is vast and plentiful, along with a smattering of indoor tables. Calic Bagel serves up Groundwork Coffee and its proximity to major thoroughfares with side street quiet make it a sought-after spot for that quiet brunch with friends or an unassuming coffee date. It’s more of a breakfast hangout than a place to camp out with your laptop and a latte, but is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.

7. Cafe Terrasse

Cafe Terrasse Exterior
Cafe Terrasse is on the second floor of Madang Plaza, overlooking the bustling Wilshire-Western intersection and providing prime opportunities for people-watching. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Located in the multi-level Madang Plaza across the street from the Wilshire-Western purple line station, Cafe Terrasse lives up to its name by offering diners food and coffee on a pastoral terrace overlooking Little Gangnam.

In addition to your typical lattes, tea selection, and pastries, Cafe Terrasse offers light dishes for lunch and brunch like grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, avocado toast, and waffles in addition to an extensive taiyaki menu. The fish-shaped creamy pastries are a popular treat throughout Ktown, with Madang Plaza alone offering a couple options for your taiyaki fix. But while French Kiss Cafe inside the CDG movie theater (in case you also couldn’t find it on Google Maps) offers up crepes and caffeine, it’s only Cafe Terrasse gives you that Parisian cafe experience with that special LA twist: all the traffic jams outside The Wiltern amidst budding mass transit projects.

For some unique menu items you can’t get anywhere else, Cafe Terrasse offers vegan pistachio smoothies. They’re like a lighter version of pistachio ice cream and the perfect treat when triple-digit summers come.

Terrasse Pistachio
A refreshing pistachio smoothie maybe wasn’t the most welcome with LA’s spring of nonstop rain, but is just what you need on a hot summer day. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

8. Loft Cafe

Loft Exterior
Loft Cafe has a chalet-style exterior that sticks out from the more utilitarian buildings lining 6th Street. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Loft Cafe resembles a Swiss chalet, but the menu is full of uniquely Korean drinks like sweet potato lattes. Pumpkin shaved ice and fresh fruit juices populate the menu aside from classic lattes and coffee drinks you can find all over the neighborhood.

The cafe also features a cozy outdoor dining area tucked into the parking lot’s fences for privacy.

Loft Outdoor Dining
Loft Cafe’s little outdoor dining area is a pleasant spot for a waffle and a latte. // Photo Credit: Rachel Presser

Loft Cafe is just around the corner from the Wilshire-Western Metro station and Madang Plaza, making it easy to get to whether you drive or rely on transit. The quaint setting and voluminous menu make it beloved among locals, and at the time of writing, no one else nearby serves pumpkin shaved ice. Not even the shaved ice specialty joints!

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