Alfred Coffee enters the crowded Venice coffee scene
By Kerry Slater
Does Abbot Kinney Boulevard need another trendy coffee shop?
Alfred Coffee recently opened in Venice this year at 1653B Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The chain has 10 locations in Los Angeles including in Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills and Silverlake, alongside an Austin shop and four Japanese shops.
While the coffee at Alfred is nothing to scoff at, the shop is an unnecessary addition to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Between Venice Boulevard and Main Street, a stretch of the boulevard less than 3/4 of a mile, there are already eight trendy cafes. While two of these are matcha houses, one a coffee truck and one a lunch stand serving craft coffee, including Alfred there are now five coffee shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
So why is this an issue in my opinion? To begin with, Alfred does not bring anything to the table that the other coffee shops on the block don’t already offer. The menu is standard, the quality is standard and most concerning it’s a chain, adding to the “Third Street Promenade-zation” of Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It would be one thing if somebody decided to open an independent coffee shop on the block–though real estate prices admittedly make this difficult–but still, the addition of Alfred feels the same as the addition of Blue Bottle a few years ago on the other end of the boulevard.
With all this in mind, however, I still ventured down to Alfred to give it a fair chance. I ordered a cold brew and my preconceptions were quickly vindicated. The beverage came with both a printed-out sticker containing my name and order, similar to what Starbucks does. More disappointing was the cup sleeve that doubled as an ad for Aaron Sorkin’s newest film. The cold brew itself was unoffensive: slightly nutty with slightly too much ice, but it would have taken a truly spectacular cup of coffee to warrant a return.
If you find yourself on Abbot Kinney in the mood for coffee or tea, Intelligentsia remains the best option, and if you don’t mind a short walk, head over to Menotti’s on Windward to support a small business that arguably pulls the best espresso on the Westside.