What started as a coffee phenomenon here on Los Angeles’ east side, recently turned into something much more aromatic. With coffee-only locations already in Silver Lake and Venice (as well as the original 3 locations in Chicago), Intelligentsia has opened a Pasadena Cafe featuring a daily eats menu curated by Heirloom LA and a hand crafted beer/wine list selected by Bar Covell’s Matthew Kaner. Needless to say, this is a triple threat joining forces in the name of all things amazing, progressive and currently happening here in Los Angeles.

Each of these establishments stand strong on their own, but together they create a unique experience which bring together farm to plate concepts, locally roasted, meticulously brewed coffees and a selection of approachable boutique wines/brews. All this contained in one handsome, reclaimed-modern, light-strung space. The menu rotates daily and includes a variety of small plates and charcuterie in addition the much loved Cupcake Lasagna. Which in the past I have personally devoured the squash, ox tail and roasted artichoke varieties.

Everything seasonal. Everything organic. Everything delicious.

Clearly being uber fans of this establishment (read: I am a screaming pre-teen and they are my Bieber), we jumped at the chance to attend their special tasting event featuring 8 Colombian coffee varietals from Finca Santuario Farms paired with a collaborative menu showcasing dishes based on the distinct flavors of each individual coffee. If a weekend brunch visit can be so perfect, we knew that this evening was going to be a special treat.

Cocktail: Coffee infused soju martini

Nothing like being greeted with a cocktail right when you pass through the door. Soju was infused with roasted coffee beans over night to create a unique tasting bevvy that one could only describe as “it tastes like coffee smells”.  Not the most technical break down but definitely true. Perfectly balanced with a little bit of tang, the coffee flavor was not overwhelming and almost tea like. This is one classy drink that was a little too easy going down and definitely something to recreate at home.

Course 1: Wild Boar tartar with grilled bread & house cured guanciale hollandaise
Course 2: Crisp Virginia ham served with persimmon bread pudding

I’d like to think that I’m a tartar connoisseur… I definitely eat my fair share of it. Even through Bourdain has blacklisted this item as a throw away. Claiming that any whosey-whats-it bistro can slap it on a menu  poorly…okay he’s somewhat right. HOWEVER, I have had quite a few amazing variations of this dish and Heirloom LA’s twist is definitely no exception. Wild boar has always been a favorite of mine. Raw, it takes on a whole new dimension of flavors.

Additionally I’ve started obsessing over persimmons. Where have you been all my life!? After receiving some from our neighbor’s tree, I have been plotting new ways of adding them to our dinner plates (I should note that the braised pork shoulder with gram masala, tomato and persimmons was a hit). Here, paired with crispy Virginia Ham and bread pudding, the fruit sings in all it’s sweet tartness glory.


Course 3: Crispy duck confit, apple slaw, walnut and tarragon aioli
Course 4: Butter leaf salad with radish, turnip, cream cheese, beet reduction and spicy pumpkin seeds
Course 5: Agnolotti stuffed with kuri pumpkin with browned butter, marjoram and chestnuts

Crispy duck confit, radish salad, pumpkin stuffed pasta…As courses continued to arrive at the table, coffee and wine followed. Seated at a communal table, we were making new friends and dissecting each bite and each sip with great giddiness. Communal table not your thing? I highly suggest that you give it a go – food can be more of an adventure when sharing it with new people. Loss for conversation? No excuses! Download the latest pod cast from The Dinner Party Download which whips you into “Life Of The Party” status in ten minutes with a latest headlines, one liners and other quirky must-shares.

This evening gave me a new appreciation for coffee. The layers, the subtleties, the care that Santuario takes with each crop. I never realized how similar it is to wine making. Then again, this evening was showcasing a farm that is on another level. Growers who engineer plots to get the most out of their land, experimenting with crops such as herbs next to the coffee trees to pull out new notes. It was just absolutely fascinating learning about their craft and have the opportunity to taste a selection of diverse varietals. This was definitely a no milk and sugar added type of evening. Absolutely delish.

Course 6: Eggplant terrine with almond romesco and fried basil
Course 7: Charred chap steak with pickled fennel, sweet and sour baby carrots and fried cavolo
Course 8: Chocolate flourless ganache cake with white chocolate mousse and tuille served with an Affogato

Buzzing from the caffeine, wine and heavy in the stomach, this meal couldn’t have been more incredible. Great music was playing and everyone in the room was visibly excited with each new course and coffee presented. Which just proves  there is a great appreciation for Intelligensia’s commitment to quality and perfection. Whether it be the service, the presentation or the product, these guys can do no wrong.

With more special events are on the horizon, I suggest you keep twit tabs on them.  In the mean time, the Cafe is open seven days a week and offering up just as tasty bites and coffees as this special evening. Yes, my love-fest with this spot has gone full blown crush mode. I have no doubt you’ll also feel the slight need to squeal when you visit.

Click here for the evening’s full menu including coffee and wine pairings