Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Coffee

Handsome is as handsome does

Handsome1 (1 of 1)Saturday morning and no coffee in the house, the perfect opportunity to check out Handsome Coffee Roasters' new roasting facility and café deep downtown. In the early morning, there’s very little traffic. I thought about stopping at the flower mart on the way and shelved the idea. Coffee first, before anything else.

Turns out the place is packed at 9 a.m. That I didn’t expect. Young families with toddlers underfoot giggling madly at other 2-year-olds beneath the tall tables. A would-be novelist practically putting two fellow coffee aficionados to sleep in their cups by droning on about his new agent and a possible book deal. Bicyclists making a pit stop. The sleepy-headed, the wired, lingering over espresso with milk and a heart drawn in the foam.

Handsome Coffee Roasters was founded by a Handsome4 (1 of 1) trio of Intelligentsia alums — Chris Owens, Michael Phillips and Tyler Wells. They’re all experienced coffee geeks, but Phillips won the title World Barista Championship in London in 2010, the only American to do so. His Twitter handle, by the way, is @1shot4theroad. I like it. 

At the new facility, you step up to the counter to order and pour your own water from a jug for that very purpose. While I'm waiting, I Handsome2 (1 of 1)peruse the shelves watched over by a benevolent-looking stuffed beaver and pick up a bag of Scout’s Honor espresso beans (1 lb., $22.50). There are bags of single origin coffee, some classic paraphernalia —Chemex brewers, professional-grade grinders, ceramic drippers, Hario press pots and kettle, etc., and also Handsome Roasters’ thick-walled cups. But I’m not really shopping. I’m trying to figure out how to make those copper plumbing pipe shelves. (This project bears further investigation — and coffee.) 

When my coffee comes, it’s smooth and fragrant, rich and strong. Add in an individual coffeecake from Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, sets me up for the morning. What next? Monterey Park for Chinese groceries and maybe later, dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia.

Just one Saturday morning in L.A.

Handsome Coffee Roasters, 582 Mateo St., downtown Los Angeles Arts District; (323) 606-3593; www.handsomecoffee.com


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Photos: Espresso with milk, the company bus, coffee in the making. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times.

Handsome Coffee is open downtown

Handsome Coffee

Handsome Coffee, the roastery and cafe, opened Saturday morning in downtown's Arts District in an airy former print shop converted by owners Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and Chris Owens. The streamlined menu includes espresso or espresso with milk in 3, 5 or 10 ounces (they've skipped the Italian nomenclature, but think macchiato, cappuccino and latte, respectively). There's also brewed coffee, pastries from Proof Bakery in Atwater Village and plenty of seating. (Take note: There's no sugar for your coffee here, and Handsome doesn't serve decaf.) 

Handsome Coffee opens

582 Mateo St., Los Angeles, (323) 606-3593, www.handsomecoffee.com. 


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Handsome Coffee to open flagship in February

Handsome Coffee, the downtown L.A. coffee roaster headed by Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and Chris Owens, announces plans to open its flagship coffee bar in February. The three are converting an Arts District warehouse that once housed a print shop into a roastery and coffee bar serving a streamlined menu of espresso and brewed coffee along with pastries from Proof Bakery of Atwater Village.

The space was designed by architect Kari Richardson of Venice and WoodSmithe of Los Angeles, featuring maple cabinetry, subway and laser-etched wood tiles, and copper accents. There will be individual seating and a community table. 

The coffee bar will be partitioned by glass walls to reveal the roastery and wholesale business. "It was always my plan to have the roasting a show piece. Handsome is all about removing barriers between us and the customer,” said Handsome’s master roaster Owens in a release. “We want to invite them in … to see our process, our craft…. This is our Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory."  

Handsome Coffee’s expected hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

582 Mateo Ave., Los Angeles, www.handsomecoffee.com


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Photo: The "before" at Handsome Coffee's warehouse; see updates at twitter.com/handsomeroaster. Credit: handsomecoffee.com.

Stocking Stuffer: My mug

Mugs 600

If you're prone to picking up coffee mugs of various colors, shapes and sizes from here and there for yourself or for someone else, these mix-and-match mugs might be your cup of tea or joe. Each brightly colored ceramic mug features a handle in a contrasting color. The mugs are $11 each and can be purchased at Kárikter, a notable shop in San Francisco that sells European character merchandise.


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Coffee roasting class at the Domestic Institute of Technology


If you want to start roasting your own coffee beans at home -- or are at all interested in how beans are roasted -- check the website of the Institute of Domestic Technology for upcoming classes. The first coffee roasting class took place in October, taught by LA Mill coffee roaster Ian Riley. Another is scheduled for Jan. 22, says Joseph Shuldiner, founder of the Institute of Domestic Technology, which offers a variety of workshops about food crafting at the Zane Grey estate in Altadena. 

Students use stove-top, hand-cranked Whirley-Pop popcorn poppers to roast green coffee beans. "I think it’s a surprisingly sort of accurate representation of commercial roasters," Riley says, "in that there's an adjustable heating element and a mechanism for agitating the beans so they roast evenly, and a de facto air flow.... It's accessible, cheap and uses very simple technology. It provides a really great path to understanding this thing that’s normally shrouded in mystery."



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Photo: Top, cooling freshly roasted coffee beans using colanders at the Institute of Domestic Technology; Whirley-Pop popcorn poppers. Credit: Betty Hallock

For the coffee geek in your life: DIY coffee cozies

Coffee-cozies-all425From the ever-inventive Molly’s Sketchbook  at Purl Soho in New York and the craft shop’s blog, The Purl Bee, charming coffee cozies made from a rainbow of beautifully dyed wool felt. The full instructions are here. It’s an easy DIY project, and an actually useful gift or stocking stuffer that coffee drinkers on the go will appreciate.

What I knew, but hadn’t fully realized, is that Purl Soho’s warehouse is in Orange County — and open for walk-in business during limited hours. Check Purl’s extraordinarily well-organized website to decide what you want and then, list in hand, stop in at the warehouse sometime to shop. Bring a sweater: It's a warehouse, not a shop.

I haven’t made the trip to Tustin yet, but it’s definitely on my list. 

Purl Soho, 15431 Redhill Ave, Suite D, Tustin; (800) 597-PURL. Open Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 


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Photos: Felt coffee cozies. Credit: Purl Soho.

Dripp coffee bar to open in Chino Hills


Dripp, a new coffee bar in Chino Hills, is expected to open Thursday in the Shoppes at Chino Hills. Dripp features a "steam bar" with specialty coffee from Intelligentsia and Espresso Republic and a custom-built "drip bar," where baristas brew individual cups of coffee. Two Japanese Oji coffee drippers are devoted to iced coffee. And then there's the "cream bar," offering premium ice creams and freshly baked cookies. (Yes, that means ice cream sandwiches.)

"My uncle had a coffee bar, and roasted his own beans," says Dripp founder Rabih Sater in a release. "My aunt knew how to read Turkish coffee cups. Growing up in different countries and cultures made me think about what brings people together. I wanted to create a new kind of coffee experience."

13855 City Center Drive, No. 3015, Chino Hills, www.dripp.com.


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Coffee geek alert: the Café au Lait fountain pen

Cafeaulait_CappedI was poking around my favorite fountain pen site, Classic Fountain Pens Inc. in Los Angeles, and happened to notice a newly arrived limited edition pen. Called the Café au Lait, it's specially made for owner John Mottishaw, aka "The Nibster" by the Bexley Pen company of Columbus, Ohio.  The color of an ideal mix between java and milk, it features an 18k gold nib in fine, medium, broad, or stub at $349, just the thing for scribbling your tasting notes. 

To note: This is the first of a newly launched Coffee series of limited-edition fountain pens. Only 20 numbered pieces. Get one while you can.

If that's too obvious, how about the Pilot vanishing point fountain pen in matte black at $140? 

Oh, and throw in some ink, maybe Sailor's ($12.50) in a suitable warm brown or Pilot-Namiki Iroshizuku ink in wild chestnut ($35).

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Photos: Café au Lait pen. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times and Norpro.

Caitlin Williams Freeman and SFMOMA's latest edible art offering

Zurier_Arabella-233x334Caitlin Williams Freeman is the in-house pastry chef at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's rooftop cafe. The former UC Santa Cruz photography student co-founded Miette. Then in 2001, in what she thought would be a temporary stint, she started making pastries for her husband James Freeman's Blue Bottle Coffee locations.

When his company landed a spot on SFMOMA's rooftop, Williams Freeman used the opportunity to channel her love for paintings and photography into her baking. Now the cookies and cakes available -- for visual and literal consumption -- at the coffee bar pay homage to artworks on view in the museum's galleries.

Constantly coming up with new ideas for art-inspired desserts, edible spinoffs have included a Katharina Fritsch ice cream sandwich, with poodle-shaped chocolate cookies sandwiching vanilla ice cream; a fudgsicle-take on Ellsworth Kelly's Stele I (located in the sculpture garden); and a Thiebaud cake inspired by the museum's large collection of Bay Area artist Wayne Thiebaud's paintings.

The latest addition to the menu is a popsicle created in reference to Santa Monica-born artist John Zurier's painting "Arabella," included in the "The More Things Change" exhibition, on view until Nov. 6. The popsicle, made of fresh spearmint ice milk and strawberry, costs $5 and will be available up until the exhibition's closing day.


The next dessert in the works will be ...

Continue reading »

Handsome Coffee launches online shop


Downtown roaster and coffee shop Handsome Coffee Roasters is still in the works, with a hoped-for opening by the end of the year, but it just got easier to get your hands on some of its beans. Handsome launched its online shop last week, with a rotating roster of fresh beans (categorized under "Comfort" -- the espresso, for example -- or "Adventure" -- where you'll find the Ruthagati). Each descriptor states origin, varietal and tasting notes, such as "nasturtium (flowers you can eat!), guava, cherry cola" for the San Vicente coffee from Honduras. 

Meanwhile, owners Tyler Wells, Chris Owens and Michael Phillips (all formerly of Intelligentsia) are transforming a former print shop on Mateo Street in the arts district (a hangar of a warehouse with bow truss ceilings and skylight) into a roasting-and-retail coffee mecca. As their 1956 Probat UG22 roaster makes its way from Belgium, where it has been restored, the trio are temporarily roasting at LA Mill in Alhambra. 

Handsome Coffee's Mateo Street home is currently occupied by the Handsome van, some La Marzocco machinery, bags of beans and a drum set -- but will be converted into a retail coffee bar, with seating and a view of the roasting works behind a glass wall, says Wells. "We just want to serve good coffee and customers to have the experience they want."    

Handsome Coffee also is available at Coffee Bar downtown, Cognoscenti at Proof Bakery in Atwater and Tiago in Hollywood. 

582 Mateo St., Los Angeles, www.handsomecoffee.com. $4 for shipping.


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.