Finding or even knowing about a cafe called GiorgiPorgi in Downtown Los Angeles is a hard feat. For one, their Instagram account is private. Two, there’s no sign out front suggesting there’s any cafe behind those frosted glass doors. Three, you might not happen to wander by unless you’re milling around Skid Row. You’ve kind of got to know about it—it’s like a secret coffee cave.
Walking inside the narrow, concrete cafe, you’re surrounded by vibrant green, live moss lining the entrance wall, all the way up to the ceiling. When you’re ready to order, you may be confused by a menu that offers only three-letter abbreviations. Clear, plastic bar stools are lined up along the bar and a formless, wavy light fixture hangs above. There isn’t much in the way of seating, but it adds to the intimacy to see your drinks being made only a few inches from you. Designed by Salsa Verde and Dope Holdings, the entire atmosphere of GiorgiPorgi is minimalist, meant to be solely a place to enjoy coffee.
Almost everything inside GeorgiPorgi is grey (or green), but the shop’s stark white, customized La Marzocco FB70 machine stands out in the sleek, moody darkness. Serving mainly Flying Goat Coffee, with a few other roasters like Suits and Knives and Madlab Coffee making the occasional appearance, you can get caffeinated with an espresso drink, or a Kalita Wave or Hario V60 pour-over brewed atop their customized clay brewer cage. Their Shakerato, a beverage made up of shaken espresso, milk, and ice, is a frothy iced latte of sorts—perfect for a summer’s day. Italian owner Giorgia Nasuti added the drink to the menu after wanting to recreate the ever-popular Italian drink she will assure you is at every bar in the Old Country.
For treats, you’re welcome to a selection of doughnuts, but it’s really all about the coffee. Nasuti and co-owner Chris Grotjahn emphasize that the ultimate focus is “about living coffee”. And as the coffee is the star, every beverage comes showcased in a custom ceramic cup designed by Eunbi Cho. Thick, grey cups with a slight tilt hold the longer drinks, while espressos are served in conical, buff clay shot glasses secured in clay stands. Other similar custom serveware is also used.
So far, GiorgiPorgi has attracted a fair amount of visitors purely by word-of-mouth. The owners are a secretive pair, hoping to lure coffee lovers in with a unique experience. Grotjahn says, “We are people in a room doing our damn best to give you an authentic espresso experience, nothing more, nothing less.” Rather than living vicariously online, as is so common for brands these days, Nasuti and Grotjahn insist you come to see them in real life. As they signed an email to me, quoting the immortal words of Kanye West: ‘This ain’t no fashion show, muthafucka we live it.’ ”
Tatiana Ernst is a Sprudge staff writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Tatiana Ernst on Sprudge.