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Urth Caffe to open premium coffee tasting bar

October 7, 2011 |  8:00 am

Urth The newest project from local chain Urth Caffe may involve delicate flavors, stringent growing pedigrees and flights of tastings, but don’t confuse it with an upscale wine bar.

It’ll be a premium coffee tasting spot opening in less than two months next to the Urth location in downtown Los Angeles. The brick-walled space still has about two weeks of construction and then a few weeks of fine-tuning, said co-owner Shallom Berkman.

Customers will be able to try heirloom, organic coffees unavailable among the blends served in the cafes. Berkman said he spends much of his time in Uganda, finding coffees grown on old, wild tree varieties.

State-of-the-art equipment -- specialty espresso machines, a giant 60-year-old German Probat roaster with a cast-iron drum, a single-serving roaster and six grinders –- will help create fluffy, foamy espressos and other limited drinks.

The majority of the space will be used by six staff members roasting coffee to send to the three other Urth cafes -– the chain goes through 100,000 pounds a year. Customers can watch the process from a long bar along the front and a small space set aside for tables.

Drink options will include, for example, a flight of espressos featuring different preparation methods such as siphons, pour-overs and French presses.

Urth launched in 1989 in Manhattan Beach and served only coffee for eight years, before customer pressure led Berkman and his wife to begin offering food.

“This is getting back to our roots,” he said. “It’s a dream come true -– I’ll be able to hang out with the customers and talk about coffee.”


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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Exterior of the Urth Caffe on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times