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Espresso Chronicles: 10 Speed Coffee creates calm, coffee and community

The exterior of 10 Speed Coffee’s Sawtelle location is pictured. The coffee shop opened at the end of 2023 and sells an assortment of drinks, including the iced maple cinnamon latte. (Karla Cardenas/Daily Bruin)

By Eric Sican

April 2, 2024 5:58 p.m.

(Vivian Sun/Daily Bruin)
(Vivian Sun/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated April 2 at 8:55 p.m.

The doors of the coffee shop read “push,” and what awaited me was a studious ambience, attentive and amiable baristas and an iced latte made diligently and dutifully.

During my visit to 10 Speed Coffee’s location in Sawtelle, I was warmly embraced with cheaper yet much more well-crafted espresso than other older and significantly established surrounding coffee shops. The barista who led me through my order was caring and attentive to my caffeine desires, offering me an array of options to choose from as I deliberated what to order. I had no trouble finding a seat as I waited for my drink, and I felt comfortable around a familiar group of students and busy workers up to their tasks all independently yet coherently.

(Karla Cardenas/Daily Bruin)
A latte and a chocolate donut sit on a white surface at 10 Speed Coffee’s Sawtelle location. The coffee shop is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Karla Cardenas/Daily Bruin)

[Related: Restaurant review: Honey Krush will create buzz among Bruins with minor improvements]

As I entered the location, I was greeted by soft ambient lighting, a transition from a bustling city to a calmer space. Around me on both sides were large tables that could easily seat four to five guests – perfect for the group of friends sitting in the upper-left corner. Every table sat at least one unusually headphone-less student or guest either studying or completing work, which seemed perfectly normal as the music playing on the speakers was at a satisfyingly low volume. My phone was at 20%, and I was worried I would have to do without my device until I got home. However, there were plenty of outlets to be used located all throughout – a student’s dream.

For first-year public affairs student Tristhan Lim, whom I met after noticing his giddiness to try the drinks offered, the atmosphere of 10 Speed offered an ideal cafe experience to students like himself. Lim said what drew him to visit 10 Speed was the impression he got from a social media post highlighting the cafe. The most enjoyable part of his time at the coffee shop was his interactions with the baristas, Lim said. While he did not order a standard coffee drink, Lim said the barista-recommended iced strawberry lavender matcha latte with oat milk was a solid 9 1/2 out of 10.

“I think the atmosphere is just a vibe,” Lim said. “The bicycles on the walls are really cool, and I feel like I can study here.”

As for myself, I ordered the most popular drink, an iced maple cinnamon latte. At first, my preconceived notions of the drink, partly due to similar ones I have had, made me apprehensive. I was expecting an overtly sweet, milky and drowned-out espresso drink – one with no character, meant to satisfy the non-espresso drinker and non-college student. However, after the minute of anxiety in which my drink was crafted, I took the first sip, and my mouth was immersed with the perfectly balanced notes of cinnamon, soft maple and perfectly-extracted espresso that gorgeously complimented the other components of the drink.

Barista and manager Julia Truman said what she loves most about 10 Speed as a workplace and a cafe is its attention to letting the espresso shine for itself. Truman said 10 Speed roasts its own coffee, which is something she sees setting the cafe apart from other cafes in the area. Having been a barista for eight years now, Truman said working at 10 Speed has been a rewarding experience for the craft. She said 10 Speed is a place where one can develop the skill set needed to be a barista. For barista and alumnus Juniper Zayante, the management is what differentiates 10 Speed from other coffee shops as both a workplace and a cafe, Zayante said.

“The management are all really nice, which is rare to find in a food service/baristing job,” Zayante said. “It’s nice to feel cared about.”

(Karla Cardenas/Daily Bruin)
Sporting a backward cap, a barista at 10 Speed Coffee pours milk into a cup. The coffee shop’s most popular drink is the iced maple cinnamon latte. (Karla Cardenas/Daily Bruin)

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As I finished up my drink and saw that my phone had reached 100%, I began gathering my belongings as I was ready to leave my espresso adventure. I was given friendly farewell smiles by customers and the baristas toward the back of the shop. When I left, this time the door said “pull,” and the relaxing nature of 10 Speed let me loose back into the wild and electric city, which was now blanketed by the setting sun.

On the speedy bus ride back to my dorm, reminiscing about the seemingly perfect drink I had just enjoyed, I knew that 10 Speed had just raised the bar for what I consider to be a great coffee shop with equally great coffee.

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Eric Sican
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