In the introduction to this project I said I would not be visiting coffee chains. I should have specified what I meant is that I would not be visiting Starbucks and other similar places. This is because there are plenty of chains that take their coffee seriously and play an integral role in the Santa Monica coffee scene. Philz Coffee, located on 6th and Santa Monica Blvd., is such an example. With 35 shops in California and 2 in D.C., Philz Coffee specializes in blending different beans to create a unique cup of coffee.
Coffee. I got the “Sooo Good” blend. I am not sure what beans are used, but it is supposedly one of Philz’s lighter blends. The bottom line is that the coffee was too bitter for my palate, but not as bitter as I was expecting. Sweet, citrusy undertones were present and became more prominent as the cup of coffee cooled yet I am still unconvinced that blending coffee is a worthwhile venture. The bitterness present in my cup of “Sooo Good” was not due to something inherently wrong with beans, but because when you blend different beans, flavors will clash and bitterness emerges.
Setup. There is no single line/queue, but rather a handful of baristas behind a counter ready to take your order. Options are displayed on a large menu, which divides blends up based on how light/dark the roast is. Each cup is made to order pour-over style, but instead of using a Chemex, Hario, or Melitta cone, Philz employs a standard stainless steel filter cone found on industrial drip carafes. While this may not be the most artisan method, it is better than brewing in bulk and gets the job done. Pricing is simple at Philz: $3.50 for a small and $4.50 for a large, which is reasonable. There are pastries and light munching options available, but considering all the great restaurants in the area, I don’t see any reason to get food at Philz.
Ambiance. On all three occasions I’ve been to Philz, hip-hop and rap have been bumping on the speakers. This is all well and fine, but combined with chairs that will destroy you back and poor acoustics, Philz is not a place to get work done or have an intimate conversation with a friend at.
Intangibles. While Philz definitely takes their coffee seriously, it suffers from something it has no control over. Within walking distance of Philz are three coffee shops (Demitasse, The Refinery, Metro Cafe) that not only serve better coffee, but do so in an atmosphere more conducive to enjoying your beverage.
If you like your coffee slightly bitter and are in a rush, Philz just may the place for you. If you want to sit down, get some work done, or talk to a friend over a cup of coffee, Philz may not be your best option. That being said, they seem to be a company that is genuinely interested in crafting a good cup of joe, and because of this is worth checking out.