In late 2007 and early 2008, the focus of coffee aficionados was on Silver Lake, with the opening of LAMILL and Intelligentsia’s Sunset Junction coffeehouse. Now the Westside is becoming a coffee hotbed. Earlier this year, Intelligentsia opened a cutting-edge Venice coffeehouse. Caffe Luxxe has two locations, and Diane Maler and husband Lew recently opened Espresso Cielo in the corner of a mixed-used building along Santa Monica’s Main Street. The couple is sourcing coffee from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, a respected brand owned by brothers Vince and Michael Piccolo.
“We started out with the idea that this would be coffee heaven,” said Diane. “49th Parallel is a divine cup of coffee.” The couple is always on the hunt for specialty coffeehouses when traveling. They considered Vivace and Intelligentsia, but no coffee impressed them as much as 49th Parallel. They discovered the brand while attending the Seattle Barista Academy, where they became certified baristas. “First taste, we just knew,” said Diane. “The coffee was exceptional. It had so much flavor that it jumped out at you.”
The counter hosts a blue, three-group Synesso, which Diane calls “the Cadillac of espresso machines.” They brew coffee using a pour-over container called a Brewt. Diane is convinced the brewer produces a better cup of coffee than a French press or Mellita filter, delivering a “richer, cleaner taste.”
49th Parallel’s espresso blend is called Epic Espresso, which Diane describes: “When you drink it, you get chocolate, apricot and caramel.” They’ll also offer an organic espresso, decaf espresso and 6-8 single-origin coffees at any given time. Other than coffee, Espresso Cielo is offering Cake Monkey pastries, Le Pain Du Jour croissants and TBD sandwiches.
Diane is an artist and designer and designed the coffeehouse. “I wanted to have a European feel to the café,” she said. “What I built here is a place I want to go for coffee.” The space features a blue color palette since that’s her favorite color. She chose “Chinese blue” paint from British company Farrow & Ball, Carrera marble counters and tabletops and smeared cement flooring. The space features barstools, sidewalk tables and seating in a courtyard two doors down. On the east wall, you’ll find an 18th century clock from a church in France. Diane’s reason: “This is where time stops.”