U-Space — Ukeleles and Coffee! Yet another reason to never go to Starbucks

15 Jan

Ukeleles and good coffee? You may never have put the two together, but this below-the-radar spot in Little Tokyo will make you realize the genius of the combination.

Located in the Japanese American Cultural Community Center, U-Space arrived with no fanfare, no promotion, and has only 7 Yelp reviews after half a year in business. Even if you eat in Little Tokyo regularly, you may not even know this building, which faces a large interior plaza used for big events. There is a hidden gem on the side of the building in the form of the James Irvine Japanese Garden, which is free and open to the public.

Entering the JACCC, to the left is the spacious U-Space. They serve coffee from a funny mobile cart inside. There are a bunch of tables and couches to sit at, which the area’s elderly do for long stretches. This is not a hipster cafe yet.

There is a rack of ukeleles for sale, along with t-shirts and percussion instruments. Everything the aspiring ukelele professional would want. Jason gives lessons to newcomers and the experienced. This is the focus of the shop, so you might think the coffee would be terrible. But hey! The coffee is actually pretty good!


The coffee is brought in from Beacon Coffee in Ventura, which is by a guy who used to be the coffee buyer for Whole Foods. The coffee is good, I’d say a third-wave coffee of medium roast, emphasizing earthy flavors over fruit. It’s also ridiculously cheap, with a small pourover for $2. They do pourovers on a Chemex, using the metal filter Able Kone. They’ll also pull an espresso for you.

Jason and his crew are super nice, incredibly laid back, as you’d expect from a bunch of ukelele professionals. And it’s a nice place to sit and sip your coffee and read a book, listening to gentle ukelele music.

244 South San Pedro Street
Los Angeles 90012
Phone: 323.577.5567
note: they don’t open until about 10am

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