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I’d much rather hang out in a cafe. That’s where things are really happening.— Joe Sacco

I usually make my weekend coffee in my pj’s while the waffles thaw in the toaster. But sometimes the spirit moves me to actually dress before caffeine and seek a social cuppa, the nearest of which is to be had at a Corporate Coffee. That’s shameful, I recently told myself. Although it doesn’t share San Francisco’s rightful fame for café culture, Los Angeles boasts many distinctive coffee venues. Hence, my inaugural visit to Olive & Thyme, a skip away from Warner Brothers and a nice little stroll from Disney.

Two life-size piggie statues stand like whimsical sentries at the wide glass door (which easily accommodated an elderly gent’s walker). Exemplifying “light and airy,” the decor blends the rustic wood of a large communal table with several cosy Victorian-style pedestal tables. Copper cooking utensils gleam over the marble counter, where hanging chrome lights and black-and-chrome stools add a retro touch. White flowers abound, in large pottery vases, tiny tabletop milk bottles, and a fountain-style planter. The wall of windows faces the Hollywood Hills.

A coffee and muffin at Olive & Thyme costs more than Coffee Inc.’s, and, believe me, you can taste the difference. The counterman rhapsodized about the chocolate and caramel flavors and the dark and light roasts of the coffees of the day; I just ordered the house coffee, which tasted delicious. To my delight, it came in a very big, real cup and saucer, with a little silver pot holding the rest of the pour. In quantity alone (and when you’re still trying to wake up, quantity counts), this $3 cup of coffee was closer to 2 cups, especially when boosted with milk or half-and-half.

The nice crumbly texture of my carrot-pistachio muffin made those wimpy corporate things an unfond memory. I sampled a bite or two of the wonderful crunchy pistachio topping alone, then played fair and sampled some topless muffin. People around me were savoring morning nibbles or more substantial meals. The couple at the next table celebrated breaking the fast with strawberry-embellished Mimosas.

With all due respect to Coffee Inc.’s slammed, jammed baristas, Olive & Thyme’s friendly, attentive service made for a very pleasant occasion.

Good coffee pours like snowmelt up and down the unicoast. How you enjoy it may be simply a matter of where you choose to enjoy it.

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