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