Review: Equator Coffees Makes SoCal Debut in Culver City

Ivy Station location for popular NorCal shop now open 

By Dolores Quintana

Equator Coffees has finally come to Southern California after twenty five years in Northern California and we can rejoice. 

Their new Culver City store is at Ivy Station on the ground floor and looks out on the grassy courtyard area. It’s a peaceful place to have some great coffee and pastries. Equator Coffees has always had relationships with chefs and culinary world and as a special treat for the opening of their newest cafe, Equator has partnered with Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken in three ways. First, you can find their brilliant collaboration in the bakery case with the Socalo Spiced Latte and Guava Empanadas. I have tried this pastry and it is perfect. It has a tender and crispy crust that holds a delicate combination of a spiced latte and guava as a taste sensation. Really, it’s that good. I got the last one in the case and I was so happy I did. I was not able to catch a cup of the Socalo Spiced Latte, “a signature cafe de olla-inspired latte with piloncillo, cinnamon, and star anise”, because it had already sold out, but I did try the Habibi Latte which was divine. It is flavored with orange blossom, cardamom, clove, vanilla syrup, two shots of espresso and steamed milk of your choice, almond and oat milk are options naturally. Their coffees are amazingly smooth and flavorful even in their lattes and other mixed coffee drinks. I also tried the Shakerato, eight ounces of pure coffee goodness with two shots espresso, dark brown sugar, two ounces of heavy cream shaken until frothy. Yes, I was going for maximum coffee achievement yesterday and that drink emphasized the quality of the coffee itself. If you have a need for full flavored coffee and not a lot of time, the Shakerato is a great option for you. 

Their regular pastry offerings are from Farmshop Market and they are quality too. I had the cranberry citrus scone and I can say that they have scones that are well made with flavor. There’s just enough citrus and the cranberries are fresh rather than being fully desiccated . The scone is light and crumbly rather than hard like a hockey puck. Breads are provided by the artisanal Bub and Grandma’s Bread. Coffee is brewed with “Ground Control ‘Cyclops’ brewers, allowing for Equator’s renowned coffees to shine. This cutting edge coffee brewer creates a layered brew via a multiple extraction, full immersion brewing process. Brewing coffee through the eyes of chemistry is a hallmark of Equator’s philosophy, which is driven home by the Ivy Station cafe’s addition of the La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine. 

The shop also has the third collaboration with Chefs Feniger and Milliken in the Las Rosas Colombia single origin coffee beans. Yes, Equator does sell and brew their own coffees and Las Rosas Columbia has hints of golden raisins, walnuts and cocoa in its flavor profile. Equator is a coffee roasting company started by Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell and as Helen Russell says, Making people’s lives better through coffee informs every connection we make, from farmer to roaster to the barista preparing your cup, and to consumers and the communities that our cafes inhabit. We are excited to join the burgeoning community of Culver City, and to have the opportunity to offer families, professionals, and visitors alike, delicious coffees from around the world with distinct flavor profiles that are ethically sourced.” The Culver City cafe will offer “ their seasonal single origin pour over program, a choice between the house Tigerwalk espresso blend and a rotating seasonal single origin espresso.” as well as whole bean coffee for purchase and merchandise. I did pick up a bag of Mary Sue and Susan’s Las Rosas Columbia beans to brew at home. 

The shop itself was designed by Kellie Patry Design to “createa cafe inspired by the California topography and the metro line which runs parallel to the Ivy Station location and seamlessly flows into the building’s adjacent public greenspace. The streamlined interior is imbued with color,  futurism, and playfulness, and the design connects the interior and patio with curving white oak benches, offering a subtle homage to metro design. The cafe features details like a tile mural by Thomas Williams mimicking ocean waves, and Louis Poulsen’s pendants wash light over the dining room.” that also features the red color of the company’s mascot owhich is a silhouette of a Bengal Tiger. Be sure to remember that if a coffee craving strikes you while you are on the Expo Line to Santa Monica or Downtown, Equator Coffee is there to satisfy that craving at the Culver City stop.   
The opening on Friday was perfectly timed to coincide with the start of Women’s History Month as a business that is owned and operated by women and LGBTQ+ and, as a celebration of that “10% of the Ivy Station cafe’s opening week sales will be donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which provides health, housing, education and social services to thousands of LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond.” Stop by Equator Coffee and you will feel welcomed by their friendly service, excellent coffee drinks and pastries with sustainable coffee from quality fair trade sources. I know I will be going back to try more of their menu.

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