I hope I do Cognoscenti Coffee justice considering I can't ever remember how to pronounce the name. Cognoscenti, loosely meaning "experts", is pronounced "Kon-oh-shen-tee". Although not explicitly stated, I can't help but think that this name is poking fun at Intelligentsia Coffee. Intelligentsia (intellectual elite) vs. Cognoscenti (experts)... coincidence? I think not. Regardless, I originally found out about this coffee shop through Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. I thought it was a fantastic idea to have a separate coffee shop inside a bakery because usually one or the other loses focus. The coffee will be great and the pastries will be dry and stale. Or the pastries will be fantastic, melt-in-your-mouth and the coffee will fall flat. But this way, both the espresso and the baked goods are stellar every time. Relatively recently (around November), Cognoscenti opened their own place outside of Proof Bakery, while still carrying Proof Bakery goods, in Culver City. Aside from the random location, this is my new favorite coffee shop. The interior is small but carefully detailed. The wall behind the espresso bar is stacked with books (I even saw my favorite Blue Bottle book), interesting clocks, and random of coffee paraphernalia. Cuteness aside, this place has some of the best coffee. I knew from looking at their bags of Four Barrel, Ritual Coffee, Bows & Arrows, Heart Roasters, that they already had a good start. But finally! The amazing aesthetics matched an amazing cup of espresso. Most recently, I had Ritual Coffee's Seersucker espresso. Although I'm not the biggest fan of Ritual Coffee (I think it can be overhyped), the extremely friendly and knowledgable barista (Leo) pulled probably the best shot I've had of Ritual. Go here. Even if it's out of the way (it probably will be considering it's not really near much). Talk to Leo! And don't worry about pronouncing Cognoscenti-- the espresso and baristas will be equally great.
Recommend: Any day except Monday Cognoscenti carries Proof Bakery pastries-- try their chocolate chip cookies! Amazing. Or, go to their Proof Bakery location and have some fresh brioche and jam!
Note: I think they have WiFi -- and although there are a total of 3 tables, it could be a great quiet place to study.
Vibe: Modern, coffeeshop, friendly
Espresso Rating: 9/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Hours: Monday - Saturday 8-5pm (Culver City); Tuesday - Sunday 8-4pm (Atwater Village)