Friday, October 8, 2010

Best Cup of Joe in L.A.--in 1976

Starbucks was a local Seattle coffee bar, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf a West LA site, and Diedrich's only outlet was a roastery in Orange County.  Still, an intrepid and amped Los Angeles Times reporter--named, serendipitously, Jessica Maxwell--went in search of the best coffee in L.A. As she pointed out, people were now buying  filter coffee makers (as opposed to percolators, I guess) and they were traveling more, getting acquainted with truly fine coffees in other lands.

What establishments were recognized in Maxwell's quest, and what trivia can we glean?

Maxwell's top picks among old California landmarks were Vickman's on 8th Street, and the Original Pantry Cafe--which, even then, had been around for over fifty years. The Pantry served Farmer Brothers Coffee then as now. Coffee with free refills cost a quarter. Other recognizable names, in order, were The Brown Derby, which charged fifty cents a cup, Schwab's on Sunset (30 cents), the Apple Pan--which gave you real cream with the coffee rather than half-and-half. Many other restaurants--the Windsor, Dales, Mannings--are unfamiliaar names to me.

Ah, for a 30-cent cup of coffee. Actually, most folks drinking coffee in 1976 remembered well the days of nickel-a-cup coffee--it wasn't too long gone. They thought fifty cents was outrageous!

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