Nothing is set in stone at Cognoscenti Coffee, the burgeoning specialty coffee chain from Yeekai Lim that shares Proof Bakery’s marble counter and now operates in the Chinatown outpost of Scoops ice cream shop, where Jack Benchakul has the lead. The only location dedicated exclusively to coffee is in Culver City, where the modern cafe resides beneath architect Clive Wilkinson’s offices. Lim rotates baristas, and he gives them the freedom to get creative. In Culver City, goateed barista Jonathan Kayne is a frequent presence, and he crafted a special drink for the holidays, the Spicy Chile Mocha ($4).
This mocha is a six-ounce drink, about the size of a cappuccino, and combines espresso and milk with Twenty Four Blackbirds 75% dark chocolate, cayenne and ancho chile powders, cinnamon and vanilla extract. The result has good tail-end heat, but still goes down easy.