I love mornings. The quiet, the peaceful calm that pervades the city. I love walking my dog in neighborhoods that are still asleep as the rosy fingers of Eos stretch across the sky.
Some days we take a trip to a new neighborhood so that I can get a change of scenery and my hound can experience new smells. Whether we’re strolling down Pacific enjoying the manicured lawns or cruising along the wide avenues like Georgina, I find that a quiet morning with a cup of good coffee makes for a pleasant start to the day.
Coffee is one of the most pervasive indulgences we have in this city. The range of quality is astonishing, from the rot-gut utilitarian brown hot liquid which becomes consumable only after too much creamer of unknown chemical composition, to the erudite single-source, curated coffee of connoisseurs, we have in this town the entire pantheon of production.
For sheer effectiveness, there’s always the gas station goop. Generally, it’s hot, brown, made sometime in the last week, and will have a caffeine content that will keep you awake. But past that, it’s hard to recommend. Really, it’s an emergency safety feature to be used only at 4 a.m.
At any other time of day we have access to decent coffee at a minimum and divine decadence at the other end of the spectrum.
For fabulous coffee and great environments we have Caffe Luxxe, Primo Passo, Espresso Cielo, Urth, Dogtown and Bulletproof (if they everopen!).
And this past Sunday I had the joy of being on Montana Avenue to meet up with friends who suggested Groundwork Coffee. I’d driven by it for months and figured it was just another version of the Peet’s, Starbucks hipsterish locale. I was quite wrong.
On first impression it has outside seating and decent-sized tables for laptops and those funny old things with paper and ink — I think they’re called books — to be set upon. The crowd on Sunday was mostly moms and dads with babiesin strollers the size of Fiat cars. Navigating past the protective parents, I made my way into the shop and was immediately struck with the fragrant aroma of coffee and toast.
This was now a new experience of deliciousness. The first thing one sees is a long rustic table that belongs in some Belgian monastery upon which monks practice their calligraphy. Above the table is set of wall shelves that are devoted to artisanal chocolate bars. The feel of this place is different — not corporate-branded blandness, but an artists’ cave of creativity.
Down the long countertop is a pastry case of delights large enough to make a cardiologist dream of a bigger home. Beyond the typical croissants and bran muffins, though, Groundwork actually has real food. Breakfast bowls are replete with organic ingredients and presented in a fashion that is a delight to behold.
I ordered a not-doctor-approved onion bagel and lox. What I received was an artfully displayed plate of lox upon which capers had been strewn with sliced onion, tomato and cucumber creatively set out. The steaming bagel was nicely toasted with a mound of saut√©ed onions on it.
Having let the lady behind the counter decide what coffee drink I would try, she sent over a Chai latte. I was impressed with the drink and enjoyed the fact that it was not served in a horrid paper cup, but rather what looks like handcrafted pottery.
My experience was marred by only two things: The server forgot to bring my latte soI had to remind the lady behind the counter about it, and the music. Bad musical choices can ruin a place in my estimation, and this one was on the fast track to ruination. Sunday morning is not the time for 1980s hair-band rock to be blaring through the speakers. I know the staff love to have it loud and rocking to keep them awake, but it makes for a horrible customer experience in my view. This is a delightful place and the music should complement the enjoyment of fine food and coffee. Mellow Sunday jazz, maybe some swing, even light classical or new age spa, but heavy metal at 9 a.m. is simply a bad choice.
Luckily for me, there are many other great places in town to enjoy on Sunday morning.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in fathers’ and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.