Espresso Profeta: Coffee Prophet Comes to Westwood Village

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Mitch Hale was one of the first baristas at Seattle’s famed Espresso Vivace, which David Schomer opened in 1988. Schomer learned to make northern Italian style espresso drinks from Ernesto Illy in Trieste, and Schomer in turn imparted his knowledge to Hale. He spent a year-and-a-half managing Caffe Luxxe, a well-regarded Santa Monica espresso bar, but he really wanted to open his own coffeehouse. The surprise opportunity came about when he tracked down one of the only places in the city serving Vivace beans: West Burton Coffee and Tea, owned by Samantha Langford. That was a Wednesday. By Friday, Hale was a partner. They slapped on a coat of blue paint and reopened as Espresso Profeta.

The horseshoe shaped brick building dates to 1927, and according to Samatha’s husband Choncey, it’s the second oldest building in Westwood. Samantha’s father has owned the building for almost 30 years, working as a jeweler across the courtyard. Over the years, the building has served as a wig shop, a Christian Science reading room and a florist.

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Samantha’s husband Choncey Langford regularly pulls sweet shots of espresso with Mitch Hale, pictured on the right.

Vivace roasts Profeta’s beans in Seattle. Hale prefers Vivace’s Vita blend “because it’s complex. Basically it starts with sugar when you first taste it on your tongue, then there’s a chocolate roundness on the midpoint, then there’s a berry, like a fruit. When you swirl a shot of espresso and you smell it, it smells like blueberry muffins.”

After four days of oxidation, “when the gases start to get loose,” Hale and the Langfords begin grinding the beans to order. 14 days after roasting, Profeta pulls the beans from circulation.

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My caffeinated odyssey began with a silky Cappuccino ($3.25). Profeta practices crema artistry. Hale said, “We want people to be completely wowed with what we’re doing.” During my visit, a young woman received her cappuccino and said, “It’s so pretty, I don’t want to drink it.”

Hale explained the elements of a northern Italian style espresso drink: a light roast espresso blend, ristretto (short) pulls of espresso (22-25 seconds), leading to sweeter shots and less caffeine, since less water runs through it.

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Choncey Langford described their Caffe Nico ($3.50), saying, “It’s a breve, half and half, espresso, candied orange syrup, cinnamon and a little bit of orange zest up top, and then a smile at the end, a guaranteed smile. I’ve had some tough customers. They don’t want to like it, but then they love it. They lick the cup clean.” I didn’t resort to cup-licking, but the concoction was definitely satisfying, frothy and not too sweet, with a nice citrus jolt.

If coffee isn’t your thing, Profeta also steeps Adagio tea. To eat, Espresso Profeta sells Breadbar pastries and Buttercake Bakery cupcakes, scones and lemon bars. The Langfords also make three different sandwiches on Breadbar breads: caprese on baguette, turkey on five-grain bun with English cheddar, and prosciutto on Alpine cheese bread with basil pesto and arugula.

Espresso Profeta is still new to the L.A. coffee scene, but it’s already entered the upper tier of Westside espresso bars.

Espresso Profeta: Coffee Prophet Comes to Westwood Village


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

If i could give this place a zero, i would. Good coffee is hard to find in L.A. and the coffee here is nice, but the employees are not. Every time i have ever come in here, and the stories i have heard from friends, are the same, there is a nasty attitude from the baristas that is almost comical. Maybe they think the coffee nazi persona makes their coffee better. The owner must engender the attitude because i mentioned it to a friend who has an office across the road and he says that the current bunch are better than the last, which is almost unimaginable. Profeta may not care if it loses business because it has enough of it right now but there alot more great coffee places opening in L.A. and people will eventually get tired of nasty servers w. horrible attitudes.

[…] is named either the El Encanto Building or The Harrison Patio Building and dates back to 1924, 1927, or 1929, depending on which website one happens to be reading) was occupied by a different […]

So thankful Mitch Hale is out of Santa Monica. He knows one tenth of what he thinks he knows about coffee. Luckily his customers are suckers and can’t catch on to what a jackass they’re dealing with.

Mitch Hale is an espresso genius! But the alliance with Langford does not serve him well. She and some other baristas talk trash about customers when they leave, and well, she just don’t seem to like her job. A place with great espresso that coulda been a contender, but rudeness and indifference to customers will kill even the best of businesses. I’m sad to have to cross this one off my list.

This is true. I used to work there when it was westburton. Couldn’t stand all the negative energy and trash talking the customers, so I left. The state. Lol

Mitch did such a great job at Cafe Luxxe and now it’s so exciting that he’s onto his own adventure at Espresso Profeta! Can’t wait to make this a new regular stop…

I know Mitch Hale, and he definitely knows coffee! Don’t miss it!

looks like a must try. especially for my coffee infused soul.

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