Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bringing Dark Roast to Life: Caffe Luxxe

My dad had just gotten back from the local video rental store with a copy of the last installment of the Indiana Jones series Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I had never seen it and the first 10 minutes had me at the edge of my seat. As soon as the action scenes kicked in, my mom came into the living room on that nice summer day telling me, my younger brother, and my dad that the guests would be coming any second and that we had to leave the house now. Apparently, there was a party going on and I wasn't invited. It was my aunt's baby shower and it confounded me why for this particular family gathering I wasn't allowed to be there. What the heck!? The only logical explanation my 6 year old brain could assume was that all the ladies were going to teach the mother-to-be how to shower...thus calling it a baby shower. Even to my 6 year old brain that didn't make sense, but what other explanation could there be to kicking out every male in the household?

I guess, subconsciously or something, ever since I was kicked out of that baby shower, I've made some kind of attempt to stick it back to the ladies by having more fun on my own than the ladies have at baby showers. And what better way to have an amazing time than to take a buddy of mine out coffee shop hopping! And this weekend while my wife was at her baby shower that's just what I did....

I've heard nothing but good coming from this place, however I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that they typically roast and serve medium to dark roast coffees. My narrow minded coffee pallet identifies the term "dark roast" with "masking impurities in the coffee" as many bigger commercial coffee shops typically do. Even with those preconceived notions, I decided to see how good this place really was.

Driving through Brentwood always makes me feel like my Honda Accord is just not good enough. That being said, I parked my dirty car on the street at the metered parking spot and walked up to what felt like a European styled café, furnished with several pieces of outdoor seating. Upon entry, my buddy and I were greeted by the 2 baristas behind the bar. Seating inside was available however minimal, but with the fantastic weather outside it seemed only fitting to find a seat on the patio. To sum it up, Caffe Luxxe felt traditional and sophisticated.

The Coffee:
As I mentioned before, I had my hesitations to this place due to their preference of medium and dark roast coffees, which differ from my usual light roast daily coffees. That being said, Luxxe is not technically an on-site roaster, but the company roasts their own beans at their facility nearby in the LA area and sends their beans off to their various locations. As I deliberated on my choice for coffee, I asked the barista his drink preference. The barista explained that while usually not enjoying cappuccinos Luxxe's cappuccino was his favorite. Naturally I went with his suggestion, feeling that if it's good enough for him then it's good enough for me too. Topped off with a couple of 'Lette macaroons, we received our cappuccinos and had our first sips. Smooth yet rich dark chocolates undertones were apparent paired with our creamy and well textured whole milk. This is how dark roasts are done, people. Very rich and dark without the burnt after taste. The crema was smokey and beautifully contrasted with the microfoam.

The Verdict:
Truth be told, I previously held an uninformed belief that if you roast dark, you're roasting wrong. Caffe Luxxe destroyed that mindset with their carefully roasted coffee offerings. Luxxe definitely sets the standard for what a darker roasted coffee should be like. Rich with a very subtle hint of smokiness to highlight the already flavorful coffee. In addition to having a great product, the staff were very courteous and knew their products. When I asked for his recommendations, the barista didn't dance around the topic telling me what other people like and gave me a straight answer. The other barista on duty was equally as nice, being cordial and genuine in her conversations with my buddy and I regarding coffee. Caffe Luxxe definitely won a spot on my favorite places in LA not only for an awesome cup of coffee, but for an overall great coffee experience. Thumbs up to Caffe Luxxe.

But the day was still young and the caffeine hadn't made me too jittery just yet. Adam and I had plans to keep this party going. What'd we do? Well you'll have to read the next post to find out (spoiler alert: it might have to do with coffee...).

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