Espresso Cielo: Sharing Specialty Coffee in the Desert [CLOSED]

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Coffee Sign Palm Springs

Second generation coffee bar owner Michael Maler expanded Espresso Cielo from L.A.

Until recently, Palm Springs was primarily filled with specialty coffee poseurs, outposts of larger chains, and a single venue – King’s Highway – that has Stumptown Coffee, but sells it at inflated restaurant prices. The caffeinated dynamic shifted with the arrival of Espresso Cielo, which probably has the best coffee in town, served in a setting where the focus is clearly on the bean.

In 2009, Diane Maler and husband Lew opened the original Espresso Cielo on the northwest corner of a mixed-used building along Santa Monica’s Main Street, not far from the beach. Early last year, Lew’s son Michael expanded Cielo to downtown Palm Springs’ main drag, Palm Canyon Drive. He previously ran a coffeehouse in Ogunquit, Maine, and struck out for better weather, and better coffee. Consider his shop an example of caffeinated Manifest Destiny.

Diane Maler’s design is similar to Santa Monica, with black and “Chinese blue” paint from Farrow & Ball, Carrera marble counters and tabletops, and cushioned banquettes. The Palm Springs spinoff has an even larger layout, with an outdoor patio that allows coffee drinkers to enjoy views of eclectic downtown passersby. The space also holds shelves of Fig & Olive olive oil (for sale).

Clock Palm Springs

Another gigantic antique clock face comes from a French tower that dates to 1814.

Coffee Art Palm Springs

An enterprising barista named Duane made a wall-mounted collage after collecting broken cups from the first six months. Is this the first of many pieces?

Espresso Cielo sources coffee from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, a respected brand from brothers Vince and Michael Piccolo. They have a pair of batch brewers, and the wall-mounted menu offered a by-the-cup option.

Coffee Palm Springs

My Epic espresso ($2.50), which a longtime barista pulled from a three-group Synesso, had bright acidity and minimal bitterness.

Coffee Palm Springs

Cielo derived my Cold Brewed Coffee ($3) from an impressive-looking Kyoto style iced coffee tower that requires 12 hours of slowly coursing through coils to yield a smooth, chocolatey cup, and minus murk or bitterness that can come from just pouring brewed coffee over ice.

Chai Palm Springs

An above average Chai Latte ($4.25) sported decorative chai powder fronds.

Even in a city like Los Angeles, Espresso Cielo’s coffee rates well, so it came as little surprise that the Malers were able to make their specialty coffee concept stand out in the desert.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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