Friday, November 6, 2009

Intelligentsia: Why I will never order coffee there again


Can I do it? I think as I approach the barista at Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Silver Lake on Saturday afternoon.

Can I actually order chai at a place renowned for its coffee?

I scrunch my face up and nudge my friend Anna. “So you’re getting a mocha?”

“Yep. Definitely in a mocha mood.” She answers confidently.

“Right.” I respond dully.

Am I in a mocha mood? I wonder, attempting to tap into my innermost cravings.

I think about the lingering aftertaste – the foul smell that will penetrate my tongue after I drink it. No, I don’t want coffee breath today, I decide. I want something sweet and spicy, but not too spicy. Perfectly spicy. With lots of foam.

I want a chai.

“So the chai is… err… good here?” I ask when I approach the counter.

“Yep.” The barista responds.

I nod at his noncommittal response. Duh Diana. Of course he’s going to say that. He isn’t exactly going to tell you it sucks! I berate myself.

“Okay, I’ll have the chai then.” I answer firmly after a moment’s hesitation. “Oh and can I get that with skim milk? Please?”

He nods, I smile sheepishly and then move away quickly before I start embarrassing myself any further.

“Chai?” Asks the other barista responsible for whipping up the drinks.

“That’s me!” I pipe up enthusiastically.

“Love the chai here.” He responds as he steers my brimming porcelain white cup and saucer across the counter.

I beam at him. “Really?! Because I wasn’t sure if I should get it…” I pause, glance at the long line of people behind me and cut myself off. “Right. Very good. Thank you!”

Anna and I find seats at the counter inside and I steel myself for disappointment. I’m picky when it comes to my chai. I prefer it to be sweet and milky rather than overly spicy, and it must must must be served with an ample layer of frothy foam.

I take a tentative first sip. A smile bursts across my face as the well-balanced chai saturates my tongue with flavor.


“It’s good!” I tell Anna with pride – clearly my act of ordering it has made it so.

I continue to rave until the subject grows wearisome, and then we move on to more serious matters like all the things I want to buy from the Cheese Store of Silver Lake next door.

“I think I want to get the ‘Ants on a log’ chocolate and maybe the Morning Glory chai cashew brittle. Or should I get the peanut fleur de sel flavor? Is it silly to spend $5.95 on three pieces of brittle?” I start rattling off as Anna sits quietly sipping her mocha.

Just another day in the life...

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
3922 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029-2242

(323) 663-6173

10 comments:

yutjangsah said...

I've never had a chai. I don't know what the hell it is. Milk in tea? Foamed milk in black tea? I'm korean-kosher. No milk in my tea. Unless it's earl gray. Unless it's a thai iced tea. Unless... hmm. okay maybe I try it.

Jenn said...

It's been while since I've to Intelligentsia. I usually just order myself a latte or a cappucino. I'll have to try the chai next time I go there.

weezermonkey said...

I forgot what I was going to say because HOW THE HELL HAS YUT NEVER HAD CHAI?!

Anna A. said...

Your chai ordering mojo is back in full effect! And I'm sure your breath smelt great two hours later, unlike mine, which was remediated by a good scrub of the toothbrush. Dang, know I wanna try one of those sammies from the Cheese store.

Ashley said...

I think the strategy at Intelligentsia is to order something with a little extra ummph since their reg coffee is $5 (FIVE?!). Wise ordering, Diana.

Heather said...

i love chai. it's so spicy and tasty. i love the name of this place!

mattatouille said...

the coffee rules at intelligentsia. i went to ritual today in SF and I realized how good intelligentsia is. even the chai is good there, apparently.

Gastronomer said...

I LOVE CHAI! I drank a cup a day throughout college. You know what that means? Our tastes, they are more aligned than ever!

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Stevie said...
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