DTLA: Handsome Coffee Roasters
Sometime in December…”I can’t wait for Handsome Coffee Roasters to be open!”
Sometime last month… “Have you’ve been to Handsome Coffee Roasters yet?”
Last Saturday… “Let’s go to Handsome Coffee Roasters.”
Even I, a non-coffee person, heard about Handsome Coffee Roasters. It was the talk of the town or at least in my circle of caffeinated friends. When I looked it up, I was surprised to learn they’re not actually open yet. At least, not the coffee bar. You can find their coffee around town. If you happen by the shop which is in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles near Villains Tavern, they are in soft open this week so you can get coffee (gratis, just tip!).
When I stopped by over the weekend, one of the founders, Mike Phillips, the 2010 World Barista Champion, was training J Park Brannen who will be their New York manager. Not quite open and already they’re opening a NY outpost of Handsome? Not quite, during the day, you’ll be able to get coffee at Demi Monde in the Financial district. And at night, there will be cocktails in the downstairs lounge. Ooh, cocktails by Death + Co’s Dave Kaplan and Alex Day.
But back to LA. I’ve judged cocktail contests before but never coffee. Mike asked us if we wanted to help judge J Park. We couldn’t just taste the drink and say we like it. We had to look at things like the color of the crema. There’s a ritual of pushing back on the crema, drinking the cappuccino from the side after you’ve pushed back the top (by the way, is that top fluid and not too stiff like meringue?) and a myriad of other things.
I loved hearing Mike’s evaluation of the run-through. He mentioned leaning in to the client (judges) when describing coffee, to create that sense of friendliness. In my mind, that is what sets apart a good barista (or any hospitality person). It’s the little things.
After the run-through, we had “real” coffee from Tyler Wells, another founder. He like Mike used to work for Intelligentsia (a coffee chain from Chicago). The third founder and Varnish bartender, Chris Owens, wasn’t there.
I don’t drink much coffee but I do enjoy a good cup on occasion. I’m also fascinated by coffee art. Unlike bitters designs on sours (egg white cocktails), the designs are just made from shaking milk onto the coffee foam. Apparently stencils and other tools are considered “cheating.”
I love Handsome’s tumblr page which features their mascot Justin the Beaver cavorting around town.
Welcome to the neighborhood!