During my last trip to LA, Johan and I stopped by the nascent headquarters of Handsome Coffee Roasters. Founded by Tyler Wells, Chris Owens and Michael Phillips, who met during their tenure at the coffee juggernaut known as Intelligentsia, Handsome is poised to be the first major LA-based third wave coffee roaster. When we visited the space it was still quite raw, but you could sense the excitement the team had for the future.
The Handsome coffee van brings the team to various events where they serve coffee and espresso via a mobile setup.
One unique experience they seek to offer is the elimination of terminology and frills when it comes to ordering drinks. Some new wave coffee shops offer brewed coffee 5 ways, which takes the barista 10 minutes to explain to someone who’s unfamiliar with the different processes. Handsome chooses one method of preparation and allows the coffee to be the center of the discussion. Similarly, with espresso, all you have to do is choose whether you want it with milk or not, and what size you’d like. I’ve visited my fair share of cafes and know that the bevy of choices offered can be intimidating to customers, and sometimes people are made to feel stupid if they don’t know what a macchiato is. I really like Handsome’s approach to making an artisinal approach to coffee accessible to everyone.
This vintage Probat 3 barrel roaster just arrived and Chris, the partner who oversees roasting, was about to get it set up and running. Because it can roast three small batches at a time, this machine is commonly used as a sample roaster as the team tries out new beans and decides which to buy in bulk. They’re still awaiting the arrival of their larger Probat roaster; it’s currently getting rebuilt in Europe and will soon ship over. I found it interesting that in seemingly disparate industries like denim and coffee, such a high value is placed on old machines that were built tougher and still do the job better than their modern counterparts.
Since our visit, Handsome has made additional progress on their space and look to be on track for their target of opening their doors to the public by the end of the year. Eater LA visited them last week and it looks like their concrete floors have been poured, which is pretty exciting (they were dirt before). Between now and their open date, you can find them in their truck around LA serving coffee at various events. Also, if you decide to stop by their space that’s still under construction, you just might find a small coffee bar in the back serving up samples in the morning. As Tyler put it, they were just too anxious to wait until the space was finished to start making their coffee.
Handsome Coffee Roasters
582 Mateo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013