Noah’s New York Bagels

Noah’s New York Bagels

Today I review Noah’s New York Bagels’ coffee. I wish this was a review of Noah’s bagels instead of Noah’s coffee, because those bagels are just about as good as it gets in Los Angeles. In New York, not so much, but on this side of the country they’re great!

I love that Noah’s venues are designed after New York’s architecture and subway style. It really does feel like the East Coast. In fact, if Noah’s was half as small, I may actually believe I’m back in the city that never sleeps.

Review: It took me a minute to separate this cup from my love of Noah’s bagels. Their website states that “all of Noah’s Hot Brewed and Espresso coffee is small batch craft roasted, from the top 1% of the world’s beans and 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.” I’m not sure what that means in terms of taste, but I can attest to the fact that their coffee is good. Not great, but definitely good. It is comparable to Starbucks’ flagship Pike roast, which places this cup right in the middle of the Ramdolfi Scale — not bad for a place whose main business is bagels.

At $2.40 a large cup, I think this cup is acceptable. I know, not my highest coffee praise; but again, this is not really a coffee place. Perhaps if the coffee was $1.00 a small and $1.25 a large as sold in every bagel cart in Manhattan, then I would be sold based on the experience alone. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Aeirloom Bakery

Aeirloom Bakery

You know when you wake up too late for breakfast but not enough for lunch, in the tradition of your typical Angelino (and New Yorker), you seek brunch. This bakery is the very definition, of brunch.

The ambiance is the first thing you will notice. Imagine a large family gathering at an estate back east for a long weekend, one with plenty of friends to share the good times. The type of gathering perfect to introduce your girlfriend to your parents, where everyone is having a great time.

Upon entering the house-looking building, with windows from wall to wall that illuminate the entire cafe with natural light, you encounter the friendliest of staff that promptly direct you to either a private table, a large communal table, or the juice bar. I requested a cup of black coffee and took a seat at the large table with strangers. They brought my cup and I began to write this review.

Review: It was only upon intently focusing on my beverage that I realized, the coffee was sadly unremarkable. Admittedly this cup, although surprisingly pleasant, was barely flavorful. What was remarkable about this experience however, was that given the ambiance, I almost forgot the coffee left much to be desired, almost.

At $2.75 a cup, I almost feel like I should adjust my rating, but this review is about taste, not price. Here’s the thing though, Aeirloom Bakery gets an A+ grading overall, but the coffee itself is a different story — hopefully it was just an old brew and I’ll have better luck next time. The Ramdolfi Score: 3/10.

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Peet’s Coffee

Peet’s Coffee

It is a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles, the type that you see on a postcard and think, “there is no way this day exists.” What better way to enjoy it than by driving to my favorite Peet’s Coffee for a cup of Major Dickason’s Blend.

From the moment you enter this location in Westwood, you are welcomed by an intoxicating aroma that embraces you and let’s you know that everything is going to be ok. As you do, the friendly staff greets you, letting you know: you belong.

Peet’s Coffee’s Menu

With a full menu of proprietary blends, hand-crafted beverages, and fresh pastries, Peet’s has something for everyone. For the coffee connoisseur however, one needs not go beyond their flagship Major Dickason’s Blend — one of my personal favorites.

Review: Upon receiving this perfectly brewed cup of liquid perfection, you know you’re in for an experience. Your cup, not too hot, and definitely not cold, emits just enough steam to caress your olfaction with its signature aroma. You take a sip and its complex flavors instantly educate you on what good coffee is supposed to taste like. You consider adding milk, but you do not dare bastardize this heavenly cup with dairy, let alone sugar. No, this cup deserves to be enjoyed as is. It is bitter, but not repelling, it is flavorful, but not overpowering, it is complex, but balanced. Major Dickason’s Blend is every bit as full-bodied, rich, and smooth as promised.

At $2.95 a large cup, this coffee is the equivalent of reluctantly attending a social event with no expectations and meeting the person you would end up spending the rest of your life with. That, is the sort of commitment that this cup inspires. The Ramdolfi Score: 9.1/10

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

UCLA Vending Machine Coffee Review

UCLA Vending Machine Coffee Review

Having had the opportunity to revisit my collegiate stomping grounds over the weekend for UCLA’s Centennial Alumni Day, I chose to revisit my old $1.00 go-to cup of coffee. It tasted just as I remembered it.

For this you will need some context. I generally avoid coffee vending machines at all costs, but one fateful day during my junior year, a fraternity brother discovered that one machine was broken granting coffee for $0.10 instead of $1.00; and the rest is history.

As a broke college student, I drank so many discounted cups that I must have saved enough to pay for tuition. Needless to say, I was devastated when the glitch was fixed. Now as an alumnus, I (fully) patron “Premium Gourmet Coffee Hot Drinks” every time I have the chance to taste a sip of undergraduate memories.

Review: From the moment it leaves its charmingly filthy machine, this cup is a unique creation specifically designed for the disadvantaged college student. Out of its name’s four adjectives, the only that rings true is Hot — and it make up for the lack of Premium, Gourmet, and Coffee! The word searing comes to mind and it makes sense, it’s a known fact that the hotter the coffee the less you can taste the quality. But then it cools down and you’re in for a treat. Synthetic milk powder and sugar blend into a silky substance, with subtle hints of coffee, that is sure to disappoint upon graduating.


At $1.00 for the small and $1.25 the large, this cup will most definitely keep you going during those all-nighters (the sugar rush alone will do that), but if what you are looking for is coffee, you’re better off going to Bruin Cafe, or just about anywhere else. Cheers! The Ramdolfi Score: 2/10.

(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Porto’s Bakery & Café: Horchata Latte Review

Porto’s Bakery & Café: Horchata Latte Review

In an unusual turn of events, it rained in Los Angeles — it has been raining lately actually, which for a state prone to fires, is a blessing in disguise. Regardless, a rainy day calls for a hot cup of coffee, and while we’re at it, why not some of Porto’s famous potato balls!? The only issue, the line.

Line of customers waiting to enter Porto’s to wait in line.

Hesitant to wait in Porto’s ever-present line, Ms. Dolfi and I decided that satisfying our craving for Cuban food was worth waiting in line. As such, we waited for nearly an hour, and we would do it all over again. In fact, I know we will. For those of you unfamiliar with this national treasure, Porto’s is a bakery in a level of its own. Decorated with chandeliers, marble tile, and one family’s legacy on its frames, Porto’s exudes elegance and commands the same respect that your grandma’s house beckoned as a child.

Porto’s Menu

With a large selection of Cuban sandwiches and beverages, Porto’s menu has something for anyone who enjoys flavor. This time around, I treated myself to an Horchata Latte, truly a liquid dessert. Inspired by Latin America’s most famous rice milk beverage, Porto’s Horchata Latte is as much coffee, as a hot dog is a sandwich. Sure, technically it is meat in between two buns, and sure, there are people out there who will back this conclusion. But in your heart of hearts, you know very well a hot dog will never be a sandwich. Likewise, this drinkable pastry is just that, a delicious concoction that resembles coffee, but in your heart of hearts, you know is not.

Review: The truth is that I cannot evaluate this delightful drink as a cup of coffee due to the aforementioned fact that it is coffee mostly by technicality. I can however, praise it as a creative and modern take on a traditional, ethnic, beloved beverage. This latte is a sweet, silky, smooth cup of comfort. It is a perfectly balanced glass of warm rice milk with a subtle aftertaste — a hint of coffee.

That said, Porto’s Horchata Latte is well worth the $4.25 for a large cup (or even the $3.59 for a small cup). Please note that the following score pertains to this beverage as an horchata drink, and not coffee. For an accurate coffee review I will have to return and, yes, get in line. The Ramdolfi Score: 7.2/10.

Aroma Coffee & Tea Company

Aroma Coffee & Tea Company

This week the fiancée had a bad day prompting me to cheer her up with an impromptu date night. We drove down the street for some sushi, but at the end of our dinner we weren’t quite ready to go home just yet, so we went to one of our favorite spots in the neighborhood: Aroma Coffee & Tea Company.

Aroma is a rather popular café with a line that wraps around the venue during peak brunch hours on any given Saturday morning. We spotted this café even before we moved to Studio City, but for some reason did not try it until over a year later. It is now one of our favorite places to get a strawberry tart and of course, coffee.

Appropriately priced for a residential house-turned restaurant on Tujunga Avenue just north of Hollywood Hills, Aroma offers a delicious brunch menu (including southwest-inspired options), slightly overpriced baked goods, and a decent selection of beverages as shown below.

Aroma Café’s Beverage Menu

In order to understand my coffee reviews, you will need to know that I use Starbucks as my measuring gauge, as it is neither gourmet nor vending machine quality. It’s more or less an acceptable standard. That said, Aroma’s coffee lies just past the Starbucks line. Nevertheless, at $2.50 a cup, and with unlimited refills (should you choose to use a mug and enjoy your coffee at their homey venue), Aroma’s coffee is much like the venue itself, a hidden gem.

Review: I smelled my cup and was able to distinguish the earthy notes and mixed berries undertone described by the label. It emitted a sweet aroma (pun intended) that yielded a promising start. Upon tasting this full-bodied coffee, I was greeted by a mouthwatering subtle bitterness, a gentle crisp that massaged my taste buds. As my tongue waved goodbye, my sip left a pleasant citrusy aftertaste, and a hint of what appeared to be amaretto — a welcomed surprise.

Medium Cup of Drip Coffee

Overall, it was a good cup. Not the best cup, not even a great cup, but it was definitely a solid choice, specially at its price point. However, and despite its great qualities, I regret to inform that Aroma’s coffee was not a memorable experience. The Ramdolfi Score: 5.4/10.

The Journey Begins with a Cup of Coffee

The Journey Begins with a Cup of Coffee

It has been so long since my first cup that the memory escapes me. I do however remember growing up seeing my mother drink a cup of black coffee every morning. My incessant requests to try her beverage to satiate my curiosity eventually led to her yielding and pouring me a tall glass of milk, with a tablespoon of sugar, and a fraction of a teaspoon of decaffeinated instant coffee. At the time I could count my years of life with the fingers of my hands, I was young when that clever formula replaced most other beverages. It was life-changing, truly.

Throughout the years there was less and less milk and sugar in my cup that, by the time I was in undergrad, I had grown to appreciate the nectar of the gods in its purest form, black. Today coffee has become as essential to my food pyramid as it was to my mother in her youth. In light of this context, one may accurately deduce the purpose of this section, to share my coffee experiences and provide guidance on some of the best (and worst) coffee in Los Angeles.

Quick disclaimer: I do appreciate the full spectrum of coffee from black to Caramel Brulée Frappuccino. That being said 4 out of 5 of my daily cups are black, the 5th does tend to have some creamer. Cheers!

(Featured Image by: Chevanon Photography)