The Low Down On Westwood's Newest Coffee Shop, Upside Down

We all know that Westwood is not short on cool coffee shops ranging from Espresso Profeta to Ministry of Coffee. But, what you may not know is the low down on Westwood’s newest coffee spot, Upside Down. Located at 10962 Le Conte Ave in Westwood Village, this newest addition to the Westwood family is different from other coffee shops in a few unique ways. For one, you choose how much you pay. To learn just how that works and the other unique aspects of Upside Down, be sure to read ahead!

Upside Down is an entirely donation-based coffee shop which means that none of the items they serve have a price tag. Rather, you choose how much to pay for your order based on what you, at the time, can pay. This is done in an effort to make a welcoming community space for all (including those who can’t afford high-priced coffee and food places like many of the other places in Westwood, especially college students).

Now, you may ask how exactly does a business like this keeps its doors open. Well, when talking to one of the baristas, I was told that they typically break even, which they say is just fine with them because of the gift of community they bring through their business. They enlightened me with the fact that Upside Down not only invites those who have little to give, but also those who have the potential to give a lot and want to help their community. Let’s say one individual can only afford to pay 2 dollars for a pastry and a drink. Later, a person pays 10 dollars for their drink. That later person paid more than what was likely expected for their single drink but, because of that, were able to help another person pay for their own items. This is the major way that Upside Down creates a collaborative and welcoming community environment.

Another way that Upside Down creates a welcoming community environment is by doubling as an art gallery. According to their website, their “priority is showcasing local, emerging artists, especially from the neighborhood and UCLA”. When visiting, you will notice that the inside all on its own is entirely white, with white light fixtures and has a very open floor space. This is to give the impression of an art gallery. The walls are lined with provocative art pieces from the community and a projector is mounted onto the ceiling for future art exhibitions, which will typically occur on the first Saturday of each month. The next is scheduled for June 1st and is called (is) More Better, a solo exhibition by Micah Hickerson. The creators of Upside Down, Jews for Jesus, credit art for being a great vehicle for conversation and, thus, community togetherness.

On my visit to the coffee shop itself, I was immediately greeted by a smiling and enthusiastic face which was shocking considering it was only 9 in the morning. Like any other coffee shop, I placed my order. Though I must admit their drink menu is quite limited, their positive attitude and the sense of community I felt when viewing the full tables of people collaborating and discussing over coffee, more than compensated for it. In terms of the coffee itself, awesome. No complaints here. Definitely will visit again. It’s not everyday you find a place so dependent.