Blue Bottle Arts District: Cooler than, Well, Your Office Water Cooler

NOLA cold brew (Photo: C.)
NOLA cold brew (Photo: C.)

Chances are what you miss the most about traditional work setups is the camaraderie. For bad and for great good, you have someone who bears witness to the madness that unfolds on the daily. (It’s a whole other issue whether or not he understands and, more importantly, commiserates.)

That may well be why the water cooler has been imprinted in our collective cultural memory as the informal gathering spot for white collar workers. You’ll still come across water coolers at offices around town, but it seems the preferred source for refreshment has morphed. In LA, it’s given way to lunch al fresco, or, more often than not, a mid-afternoon stop by a cafe within walking distance.

If you’ve worked at one company whether large or small, you’ll have already been introduced to the cafe break. It’s not always pretty, even though you will probably take what you can get when it comes to a break from office madness. Sometimes this means a blended something at a corporate chain. Sometimes you luck out, if you work in an area like the Arts District where there’s a growing surfeit of really, really good coffee joints.

Spend a spell at Blue Bottle Coffee in the Arts District and you’ll find nearby professionals come in, sometimes in groups of four or five. They’ll each put in an order then regroup towards window-side stools, chatting while waiting for their latté or NOLA cold brew. Once the last person gets her cup, the crew will file out of BBC, walking back to their office.

BBC is set up for busy-ness, not business, per se. Last year, the SF transplant took over the space built by local darling Handsome Coffee Roasters, having bought the entire operation and all. Besides swapping signs and merchandise, BBC did changed little to the look of the café. You still won’t really want to work from there. There’s no wifi and the seats are just comfortable enough for a break, not extended bouts of Excel sheet hashing. And that’s fine, really. There are plenty of that available a few blocks away.

Blue Bottle Coffee: 582 Mateo St., Los Angeles; (213) 621-4194. [map]

Ambiance: Sociable, but not noisy.
Amenities: No wifi. Restrooms, one for her and another for him. Street parking.
Drink/Food: All about that cacao-derived caffeine. That and a select number of cookies.