Vinoteca Espresso Cafe & Wine Bar

A few months ago, I got to try out Vinoteca's Espresso Cafe one early morning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The #PowerPatio is equipped with wifi, charging ports, and TVs to maximize one's experience while there. The cafe opens daily starting at 6:30 am, so one can come in before work to grab a cup of coffee. With Italian pastries such as their scrumptious Connoncini and roast imported from an Italian family in Seattle, Vinoteca is the perfect place to start the day off! 

After work, Vinoteca is transformed into a modern and sleek wine bar with Italian dishes made for sharing. From various pizzas to different types of crudo, Vinoteca is perfect for after work drinks and food or even a nice dinner with friends or significant other. The wine program is extensive, with sommelier Luca Bruno creating a unique Italian wine experience that showcases the finest examples of classic terroir of Italy. A full bar is also available for those who seek something else. 

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Vinoteca at the Four Seasons has become a versatile and trendy spot that strives for not only a great environment, but also a restaurant with delicious food and drinks. With so much to offer, I'm excited to see how Vinoteca will do in the LA scene! I have yet to check out the wine bar, but hope to soon with a couple of friends! 

LAMILL Coffee Roasting Tour & Cupping Experience

Last week, I received the chance to attend and learn more about the roasting process at LAMILL Coffee! Their warehouse and office is located in Alhambra, and everything from the receipt of the beans to the packaging occurs here. 

Process: Farmer > Milling > Transport > Roasting > Coffee Shop > Barista 

LAMILL gets most of their beans from Central and South America, and each bag comes as heavy as 130 lbs to 150 lbs. The beans are a light greenish brown before roasting, and it had a earthy scent that smelled subtly like vegetables. There is a natural protective coating covering the beans called parchment, and after it is dried in the sun, the outer coating is removed and placed into bags to be shipped to the LAMILL warehouse. 

The beans are then placed in a bucket elevator (below photo) which holds up to 132 lbs of beans. The elevator shoots the beans up through a shaft and takes the beans to a 60 kilo drum roaster that continually rotates over 400 degrees (420 for a dark roast). Every couple minutes, the roasters look and smell the coffee to make heated adjustments as time affects acidity. There is also a roast tracker that tracks every roast that they've had for quality purposes. For example, a longer roast would result in a chocolate caramel like smell, whereas a lighter roast is more lemon-y and citrus-y.

During the roasting process, air is incinerated and exits clear with no smoke. There is also a chaff byproduct that flakes off during the roasting process which is shown in the photos below. As the beans roast, you can hear crackling which indicates the moisture building up as well as the steam pressure. Sounds almost like popcorn popping in the microwave but more distinct! The crackling is used as a time marker at what stage the beans are at! 

For small batch coffee, a smaller roaster (12 kilos) is used, and it can hold up to only 26 lbs at a time. The more expensive coffee is roasted here. The lightest roast can be as fast as 10 minutes, and the darkest roast will take up to 17 minutes. 

After the beans are roasted, it is packaged into smaller pound bags and ready to ship! 

After watching the roasting process, we were taken to the cupping room to try the different types of beans! We received a light, medium, and dark roast to try. This part was super interesting as the process is extremely different from how normal coffee is brewed! At this part, John, the director of coffee, taught us the appropriate way to brew. 

After grinding the beans, he used filtered water at 195-205 degrees to brew the coffee. Distilled water has no taste, and hard mineral la water is no good as there are too many minerals. At 204 degrees, co2 is forced out by the water, and crusting occurs.

We were then taught how to "slurp" the coffee- you take a spoon and after breaking the crust, you slurp in the small sip of coffee to get the full flavor all throughout your mouth. The louder the slurp, the better! We repeated this process for every roast after cleaning our spoon in the water cups!

My favorite ended up being the light roast as it was more vibrant and citrus in flavor. I had such a fun and educational time learning about the roasting process and the various beans! Thank you John and LAMILL Coffee for giving us a roasting tour and showing us how to cup! 

Lamill Coffee

1636 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Three words. Salted caramel latte! I don't even drink coffee but this is definitely a must order. Lamill Coffee is very well known as they distribute their beans to numerous stores, and this shop is their only location that serves food. They do have one in Alhambra that serves strictly coffee, but my friends and I wanted to eat so we came in to check out their brunch!

We ended up liking everything on the menu, and ordered way too much food. We got all three toasts (avocado, smoked salmon, ricotta), as well as the salmon eggs benedict, grilled cheese and tomato soup, an omelette, and two pastries. Of course, we got mimoas as brunch is never complete without mimosas! They offered a grapefruit mimosa which I thought was unique, and although it was sour, it was a delicious start of my meal! 

The pastries were first to come we got the jalapeno cheese biscuit and the mushroom muffin. Both of them were scrumptious; the biscuit had bits of cheese over it and was nicely toasted! The muffin was warm and soft, and the inside had a generous portion of mushrooms. Yum!

On to the toasts- these were perfect in terms of presentation and taste! The avocado toast was paired with radish and onions which was was a nice crunchy complement to the soft avocado. Add a poached egg to complete this dish! This ended up being my friend's favorite of the brunch.

The smoked salmon was a delicious toast as well- very even serving of cream cheese, capers, and salmon. I took this home and ate it for dinner in the end.

I really liked the ricotta toast- they add walnuts, honey, and strawberries on top. The combination of everything was divine, and I could not stop eating it even though I was stuffed! 

You can't go wrong with the eggs benedict or the grilled cheese/tomato soup, and this spot was no exception. The yolk was runny for the benedict, the grilled cheese was toasted, and the tomato soup was creamy and hearty. My friend really liked her mushroom omelette (she made it all egg whites) as well. 

To finish, my friend had a salted caramel latte that we fell in love with! This was the best ending to our meal- you have to try it for yourself! I also got a lavender lemonade which I really liked as it had the perfect balance of lavender flavor and lemonade. I'm obsessed with brunch, and this restaurant has only fueled this current phase!

Groundwork Coffee Larchmont

139 1/2 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Did you know Groundwork Coffee has a full brunch menu!? My friends and I came in on a weekday and decided to have brunch here as everything on the menu looked amazing! Only a few of their locations have brunch, and the Larchmont one ended up being one of them! We ended up ordering a bunch of options to share, and everything we had was delightful.

Truffle & Sprout Avocado with salad- this was the table favorite and we ended up ordering extra since we kept fighting for the pieces! They come in six pieces on toasted French bread, and the avocado had a subtle hint of truffle which was yummy.

Green Goddess grilled cheese with pesto, avocado, provolone cheese, and goat cheese- we did not like goat cheese so we substituted it out for gouda cheese, and it was bomb. One of the better grilled cheeses I've had for sure!

Parma prosciutto wrapped in arugula, organic eggs, bread- this one was super cute as the poached egg was hidden underneath the prosciutto. Nice combo as you can't really go wrong with prosciutto and eggs! 

Tuna poke bowl- super random to have at a coffee shop but it was surprisingly really fresh and marinated well! I would totally order this again. haha.

French toast- I believe the toast was crusted with sugar which added a nice texture, and I thought that this was definitely one of the better French toasts I've had! They're really generous on fruit as well. 

We also got the vegan fakin' bacon burrito and the poached eggs on avocado with egg, and although I did not try it, my friends really enjoyed their dishes! The dishes that came out were delightful, and I was impressed at how well everything was made. Order at the counter and they will bring out the food for you. So happy I came here- I couldn't have had a better brunch with my friends!