Credit goes to the Yelp app for helping me find the Two Guns Espresso cafe in Manhattan Beach! This coffee shop is located just minutes from LAX airport, and when I read that it is a shop founded by two New Zealanders, I hightailed it over to the shop as fast as I could. I fell in love with New Zealand on my trip to the North Island back in 2016, and the espresso culture there is truly world-class. I wish I had had the opportunity to sample more espresso than I did while I was there, but I was very taken with the coffee I had from Flight Coffee, both with the drinks I had in their “hangar” (cafe) and with the beans I brought home. Kiwis know their espresso, that’s for sure.
Two Guns has three locations sprinkled around the Los Angeles area. I was immediately charmed by their Manhattan Beach location – it was bright and modern with an eclectic vibe. I was particularly pleased that the espresso cups and saucers are this lovely shade of slate blue/grey… don’t know why I love this color so much, but it made me really happy to see something a little different than the standard white!
The espresso I had in the shop was chocolaty with a nice lively edge to it that definitely perked me up after my three-hour flight. I brought a bag home and had fun dialing the blend in for my grinder and machine.
Whole bean: The beans were a bit oily and smelled like Peet’s Major Dickason blend. It’s a bit darker of a roast than I’m used to but appropriate knowing it came from Washington.
Espresso: I liked this espresso pulled best as a normale shot. It took me a handful of shots to get the beans dialed in well; some shots came out rather harsh, one tasted like nail polish (!), but when it was good, it was pretty good – nice smoothness and a good amount of crema.
Favorite parameters: 17 grams in, 33 grams out, 200 degrees F, 29 second pour.
With milk: I don’t have any notes in my notebook about this espresso with milk, so I must not have made Shutterbug a drink with it. Oops! However, I can only imagine it’s really good with milk, as it’s the espresso used for the flat whites and such in the shops. There were a couple of shots I had during the tasting that I thought were harsh on their own but I think would stand up quite well with milk.
AeroPress: As a concentrate, this was strong and spicy. It was tasty just on its own but I preferred it with just a touch of additional water added as I felt it tasted more balanced. The coffee gives you a push out the door, instead of a punch in the face.
Summary: For straight espresso drinkers, I found this blend to be a bit finicky to get just right in the brewing, but when done right, it’s chocolaty and smooth. It’s a good “workhorse” espresso if your tastes run toward milk drinks.
From the roaster: Dark chocolate, candied pecan, hint of dried fruit
Two Guns’ beans are roasted by Dillanos Coffee Roasters (Sumner, Washington). As far as I can tell from poking around both companies’ sites, there’s no way to purchase the Two Guns Espresso Blend online, but you can get them at Two Guns’ shop locations.
Review conducted 18 days post-roast.