The great Los Angeles cappuccino project begins at Espresso Cielo in Santa Monica - so far south that it's almost Venice - in a sweet little café nestled in the first floor of a modern apartment complex. It has a nostalgic feel, despite its clearly contemporary surroundings, with French-inspired decór and simple marble tables lining the windows. Vibrant blue walls add to the Parisian aesthetic with a pop of color, while paying homage to the café's name, Cielo (sky).
On a weekday, the vibe here is very mellow. A handful of locals made themselves comfortable, chatting with the friendly staff or working quietly on laptops. Others came and went, enjoying iced lattes with almond milk (they use Califia Farms in case you're curious) or the local artisan-made pastries offered. Apparently the blueberry muffins are popular; they were sold out that afternoon to one patron's great disappointment.
Now, on to the good stuff. As mentioned in our first post introducing this project, the basis for comparing all these highly regarded coffee shops will be a simple cappuccino: no sweeteners, no fancy milks, no extra shots. Just a perfectly plain cappuccino. So I ordered one up, to stay.
Let me just say: what a way to kick off this project! Espresso Cielo's cappuccino was excellent. It won points for looks, with a pretty, bubbly foam and a rich color contrast between the milk and espresso (and that drip down the side of the cup just adds to the drama, if you ask me). It came out at the perfect temperature, just hot enough but not scalding, and the foam's velvety texture was luxurious and satisfying. The espresso's flavor was superb as well, with a depth and complexity that pleaded you to sip it more slowly so you could fully experience it. It was warm, nutty, and almost buttery, like that cozy feeling you get on Christmas morning.
Did that description sound a little bit like someone trying to describe some sort of fancy wine? Well, deal with it. This coffee was great, and it gave me a lot of feelings that are hard to describe. Really warm, cozy, happy feelings (which we could all use a little more of, right?).
So far Espresso Cielo was my favorite. I know, I know, of course it is, it's the first one. But with a cup of coffee this solid, it will be difficult to de-throne... Check back next week to find out if spot #2 can nab the title! ☕️
3101 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am - 7pm