I asked key people at a number of L.A.’s best coffeehouses one simple question: “What’s your top selling beverage, and why do you think that’s the case?”
Bru Coffeebar owner Sharleen Mokhtarzadeh: Our top selling drink is the Latte and Americano, however customers are coming in more and asking questions about the coffee pour over drinks. It seems that people are enjoying the tastes of the different coffees that we offer and they look forward to trying out new coffees that we change up quite frequently. Our pour over coffee takes a strong second!
Caffe Luxxe co-owner Mark Wain: Our top-selling beverage by a fairly large margin across all caffes is caffe latte. I’d like to think it is because our lattes are good (which they are), but I also think people like the size of them. It’s a perfect size so that it doesn’t cool off too much while you’re drinking it, and it’s big enough that people can make it to their cars and commute with it. Also, it’s a beautiful and tasty drink that isn’t too intimidating for newcomers.
That said, I notice a progression as people’s tastes evolve. It’s been consistent since day 1, as people start with a caffe latte, and then move to the latte with an extra shot (wanting more coffee flavor). They then switch to a cappuccino (or the cappuccino with an extra shot) because the coffee:milk ratio is better.
CoffeeBarLA barista Doug Meils: For us our number one espresso based drink is a 12oz Latte and number 2 is a cappuccino. I think the latte is most popular because it is a well known, middle of the road drink. It’s not too “strong” and people like drinking their coffees over a period of time. Cappuccino is popular because you get a lot more of the complexity and flavors of the espresso mixed with the sweetness of the milk, people who really appreciate and enjoy espresso and coffee are more likely to get it.
Cognoscenti Coffee @ Proof Bakery founder Yeekai Lim: Our most sold drink would have to be latte and iced lattes but cappuccinos and pour overs are definitely getting more popular. Unfortunately I don’t manage the Fetco brewed coffee but I think that could be the most sold drink. Latte being the most drank beverage second to coffee is probably a by product of Starbucks’ exceptional marketing. It’s also a drink that has European cache, a symbol of good taste when ordered in public. Forget about powdered milk when u can have an entire coffee drink full of milk. Latte in the traditional sense may also be the largest espresso drink, appealing to the supersized consumer.
Espresso Cielo co-owner Diane Maler: Although we have a cult following for Cielo’s cold brew, our magic elixir, we all find that our cappuccino holds the record for most popular drink served at Espresso Cielo.
Cielo’s cappuccino is the perfect expression of a marriage of espresso and milk, complementing each other in a way that allows you to sit and savor the warmth and texture of your drinking experience, as well as the balance and complexity of our espresso. The experience allows you to discover nuances of flavor found in Cielo’s espresso. For the uninitiated, this is the perfect introduction to the world of specialty coffee and the idea that coffees from different parts of the world have their own unique, inherent flavor notes. Cielo’s cappuccino exemplifies this uniqueness.
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea VP of Strategy Kyle Glanville: 12-ounce latte is the dominant player. I think it’s familiar. Espresso is generally preferred in L.A., probably because it’s a highly international, diverse city. That said, straight espresso is too strong for most people. Latte is our most diluted version. It’s just a comfort issue. It’s one of the few items where we cross over with most major chains. Everybody has a 12-ounce latte, which is generally what it should be.
LAMILL Coffee founder Craig Min: “It’s our latte that is our top seller. Our latte has our Bliss Espresso in it!”
Paper or Plastik Cafe co-owner Anya Michelson: The most popular is by far the single origin pour over coffee. I feel that this is quite an accomplishment as the pour overs require extra time and attention, and the customers may not be willing to allot extra time for waiting. At this point though I feel that our clientele has discovered that a pour over is the best way to access the coffee profile, to experience the uniqueness of every region and season, the complexity and the dynamics of the coffee as it’s temperature changes, etc. It took a lot of effort and dedication to convey that side of the coffee to the customers, but I think that the public (at least the people that come to PoP) are ready to embrace the fact that coffee is more then just caffeine, that it’s a gourmet product, and the way it’s prepared and consumed is a part of that thing called” the quality of life.” Also being able to watch the pour over process seems quite compelling to most customers, as it actually makes them a part of the ritual.
Tiago owner Santiago Garfunkel: 5oz Cappuccino, I think is because it offers a perfect balance of espresso and milk.