Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deck the Halls With Sweet Potato Lattes: Hollys Coffee

Hollys Coffee (no apostrophe) is essentially the Starbucks of South Korea, the leading player in the espresso bar market in that country with additional shops in Japan and Malaysia. In the US, there is a single Hollys on Sixth between Kenmore and Alexandria (south side of the street), selling numerous coffee and steamed milk drinks and freshly made waffles.

In many Korean coffee shops, the coffee, itself is an afterthought at best. Hollys, though, serves up one of the better cappuccinos you will find in coffee-challenged K-Town, certainly better than the local Starbucks. No decaff here though, so only a few sips for me.

In addition, Hollys has a more creative selection of the mandatory variety of sweet-milk concoctions. My favorite is the sweet potato latte, a steamed milk drink with sweet potato flavoring topped with sliced almonds. (In Holly's somewhat nontraditional terminology, a sweet potato latte is just milk and sweet potato, while a sweet potato macchiato has a shot of espresso). When I first ordered the latte, I was worried it might be akin to one of Starbucks' seasonal pumpkin drinks, a sickly sweet imitation of a pumpkin pie. Not so; the sweet potato latte is subtle in its sweetness and the flavor is very natural, tasting of real sweet potato. There is even a slight sweet potato texture to it. The sliced almonds on top help accent the nutty flavors of the sweet potato. It's a well done drink with points for originality.

Hollys also makes a nice hot chocolate and a number of good tea drinks, although I found the black bean drink to have an unpleasantly grainy texture.

I also gave the waffle a try. While I like the concept of a freshly made, hand-held waffle, it was a bit too doughy for me. But I keep going back for my sweet potato latte.

Hollys Coffee
3450 W 6th St. #109
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 389-4553

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