If there is one thing I have learned recently about the Aussies (and the Kiwis, for that matter), it's that they take their brunch and coffee very seriously. Their café culture is quite unlike ours - and in all the right ways. They don't rush things, they don't stand in line, they prefer independent coffee shops over chains, and they tend to actually interact with other humans when they visit their favorite café. And, they serve healthy, delicious food, presented in jaw-droppingly gorgeous fashion (remember Bondi Harvest? So pretty). Luckily, a some of that Aussie magic is slowly working its way to our shores - and it's strongly evidenced in the charming Paramount Coffee Project (a.k.a. "PCPLA") on Fairfax.
Inside, PCPLA is modern and beautiful, decorated in bright greens and fresh foliage, with a wonderful indoor-outdoor vibe happening on the adorable little back patio. It's just a stone's throw from several other well-regarded coffee shops, but that doesn't seem to deter its popularity. The thoughtfully designed café attracts hordes of creative types, coffee enthusiasts, and foodies, all of whom seem to have nothing but good things to say about it - in fact I overheard more than one group discussing just how much they "loooove this place."
PCPLA was founded by three Aussies with impressive coffee backgrounds: Jin Ng of Paramount House, Mark Dundon of Seven Seeds, and Russell Beard of Reuben Hills. The trio teamed up to open the original PCP location in Sydney in 2013, and after it proved successful, they opened their L.A. outpost on Fairfax in 2015. The same philosophies that worked so well in Sydney run true in L.A.: the team emphasizes experimentation and education in coffee roasting and brewing, focuses on creating the most delicious food and coffee possible, and strives to provide top-notch customer service. The coffee offerings are varied and unique - their beans come from around the world, many from roastaries we Angelenos haven't likely come across before.
I stopped in PCPLA recently on a weekday just after the lunch rush, and was pleased to find that it wasn't too crowded. I was surprised at first by the unusual ordering system - indeed, you do not need to wait in line here if you plan to dine in. Instead I was instructed to take a seat, and informed that someone would come by to take my order (side note: why does table service feel like such a luxury these days? Is this a dying concept?). I got cozy on the back patio, a comfortable indoor-outdoor space with a large communal table as well as several small tables. They've also extended the space into the parking lot a bit, adding some wooden picnic tables and plenty of lush greenery (ensuring it feels more like a garden and less like a parking lot). My order was taken quickly, and the coffee came out before I could bat an eye. The service was truly top-notch - every staff member I spoke to was friendly, welcoming, and conversational.
My cappuccino was served up in a simple-yet-satisfying matte ceramic mug - the kind you just want to wrap your hands around on a rainy L.A. day. The espresso's flavor pleasantly mild, and tasted nutty and creamy, and a bit like cocoa. It was beautifully smooth, and sipping it was almost like enjoying a decadent dessert.
As it was past the lunch hour, and the menu was oh-so-tempting, I also decided to order up some food. This menu was absolute torture - just about everything sounded delicious. Since I've craving grain bowls lately (or as Jonathan Gold might say, "Things in a Bowl"), I chose the Superfood Bowl - quinoa, candy beets, roasted carrots, sunflower, cocoa, blueberry, lebni, and two poached eggs. If that description sounds a bit like a mishmash of things that don't really go together, you're not wrong - and yet, somehow, the magicians at PCPLA made it all work harmoniously. Imagine that! Eggs and blueberries in the same dish? Strange, yet so wonderful. The juxtaposition of textures in this dish was a delight, and each of the flavors complimented one another nicely - especially the tangy lebni with the sweet roasted carrots and the strong spice mixture sprinkled on top (which I assume to be dukkah). A little unusual, so satisfying, and so delicious.
Truthfully, I cannot wait to come back and try more of the treats on this menu and enjoy the relaxed vibe that this team has created. And that's saying something - because there are a lot of good coffee shops in this city. Maybe even enough that you could keep trying a new one each week without repeating for the rest of your life. But there's something so genuinely appealing about PCPLA - their creative cuisine, their commitment to excellent coffee, and their sincere friendliness - that makes it worthy of a repeat visit.
Paramount Coffee Project
456 N Fairfax Ave