In a town known for its pretentiousness, in an industry that’s also known for its pretentiousness, walking into Smith & Tait is every bit of refreshing. Before you’re even greeted by the two lovely owners, Alex and Lauren, a reminder at the door let’s you know that “You have arrived.”
Arrived, indeed. This cozy basement-level shop is a hidden gem in West Hollywood and apart of the the revolution of bringing hospitality back to the coffee industry – something that somehow got lost in the hubbub of “third wave coffee” and is long overdue.
You know what we’re talking about…we’ve all been there where we walk into a coffee shop and the barista stares at us blankly, sizing us up and making the entire experience lousy. Yeah, the coffee was great. But, would we make a special trip back? Eh, probably not.
But, that’s just not Alex and Lauren (or Smith & Tait, they’ll answer to either). No, these women are as down-to-earth and personable as one can get. They’ll talk coffee, talk life, and serve up an amazing shot of espresso courtesy of Ritual Coffee Roasters out of San Francisco. They turn a casual daily coffee run into something more than just coffee.
The first time we came into Smith & Tait, we had no idea what to expect. From the very little pictures they had online we didn’t think it was going to be a hangout type of spot. Boy, were we wrong! Smith & Tait do a wonderful job at utilizing their space, even having room for a retail section curated with delicious smelling candles, exclusive pins and t-shirts. The vintage-inspired touches like the Sony mini TV has a friendly reminder to pick up your coffee and the teal La Marzocco serves as the focal point. The aesthetics of the shop reminds us that you don’t need this grand coffee shop to make a statement; all you need is good coffee and great people.
And you have to try whatever is on their “secret menu” – a place where they can test new coffee concoctions to see if it should be a permanent spot on the menu. As of now they have a turmeric spice latte, which has definitely been a fan favorite. Although, you can’t go wrong with anything from there; they even have takeaway growlers that you can fill up with their cold brew (perfect for those gorgeous sunny LA days).
Also, don’t be afraid to bring along your furry friends. They have a spot for them outside where you can “park your pup” while you grab your coffee inside. Yours can bask in the sun and take a sip from the communal water bowl – a win win situation!
If you want to sit outside and relax, they do have an intimate patio with a mini succulent wall, perfect for some one-on-one time with a friend. Alex and Lauren are still working on fully remodeling the patio, but you better believe that when it’s done, it’s going to be an extension of the beautiful inside space.
And if you’re hankering for a sweet treat, they have bomb mini donuts from Fonuts (a shop that bakes their donuts instead of frying them). Try to eat just one of these babies…they’re too good – and gluten free)! And if you’re really lucky, you can catch the famous Yeastie Boys, a bagel sandwich food truck, parked outside.
Lastly, if you can’t check out their brick-and-mortar shop off Huntley, be sure to make your way to Coffee Hall in Chinatown between March 9-11 where they’ll be slinging some ‘spro (and introducing some new drinks) and doing a little ping-pong throwdown on March 11 (sign up at 5:30pm, tournament starts at 6pm). Check their Instagram for more details in the coming weeks!
And if you don’t know what Coffee Hall is yet, it’s a rotating coffee shop in Chinatown LA. It’s a perfect spot for Angelenos to try new coffee shops from around the area and hang out with the community. Plus, it’s right next to Pok Pok LA, so grab some food or an adult beverage after getting your caffeine fix.
So, if you’re in the mood for some “damn fine coffee,” head over to your new favorite spot, Smith & Tait because life’s too short for bad coffee, right?