Words by Su Young Choi, Photos By Aaron Smith
Let’s start this off with a bang. Menotti’s Coffee Stop might be the best coffee spot in LA. Actually I’m going to claim it is the best coffee in LA, hands down, by a country mile. That’s a big claim for someone who’s in his infant days of judging coffee. But I’ve yet to taste a better flat white, espresso, cappuccino, or cortado since I’ve been here.
I’ve said to numerous people that Christopher “Nicely” Abel is my favorite barista in the world. If I’m in Venice, the first and only place I care to go is Menotti’s. I crave and miss it like a crack addict misses his first hit of the day. Venice, you’re very, very, lucky to have Menotti’s. I’ve chosen Menotti’s as the first coffee spot I’m reviewing on Choice Cups as I feel we need to start from the top because I don’t even know if I’ll be continuing past this review – it’s the internet after all, and shit comes and goes faster than you’re trying to leave this article.
The only way I was going to do this justice was to wrangle in some friends for the experience. Local Santa Monica photographer and friend of MC, Aaron Smith, came to get jacked up on caffeine and shoot all these beautiful photos. We put out a craigslist ad for models that like to drink coffee and ended up with the gorgeous and lovely Zeda Navarro and Adria Vaidila. Yes, we had a shit time drinking copious amounts of coffee on a Thursday afternoon as the sun set on Venice beach.
I’ll cut right to the chase cause your probably floating around the back button after having a perv. The reason why Menotti’s is the best coffee spot in LA is barista Christopher “Nicely” Abel. He’s won awards for his latte art, and he can pour the most intricate and delicious looking artwork on top every cup. I should ask him for a portrait of myself one day. I’d look way better in espresso milk form than in real life. Nicely is one of the most passionate people, period. Coffee is his way of life; he lives, breathes, and shits coffee.
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon at one of his cupping sessions. What is cupping? It’s when he lays out all the coffee beans they sell and you get to sample every bean in it’s purist form. No sugar, definitely no splendid, no almond milk, no 2% milk, just straight coffee and filtered water. It’s very much like wine tasting, only you start shaking after, and you won’t sleep with your best friends wife. So you grab a spoon, dip it into the coffee, sip it like it’s the last drop of liquid you’re drinking before you die and then enjoy the fine taste of Four Barrel Coffee. You do this on repeat with all the beans from all the vast regions where Four Barrel sources their delicious beans from. It’s a great experience for any coffee lover to drink different blends and beans back to back. Menotti’s have chosen Four Barrel Coffee as their coffee bean partner. Four Barrel supplies them with amazing roasted beans and Menotti’s pours it for everyone to enjoy. Four Barrel is roasted in San Francisco, California, if you’re ever up there I highly recommend visiting their Valencia St location.
Menotti’s is located at the main entrance to Venice beach. The eye candy has your neck spinning right round like a record baby. There’s a constant stream of humans from all walks of life passing by the window. People pop their heads in to find an intimate but cluster free coffee spot, playing tasteful tunes out of its record player. The interior is very well thought out and executed. It pays homage to the original Mr. Menotti’s, who legend has it was a supplier of liquor in the prohibition days. Check him out in the photo, dudes a fucking boss. They have liquor barrels outside as tables, the counter front is recycled from the original roof material, and they have beautifully shot photos of coffee farmers. The milk dispensers use recycled liquor bottles. The attention to detail with the smallest things is what gives me a hard on when I come here.
Location: Menotti’s Coffee Stop – 56 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291
For more coffee porn, view the gallery here: