Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category
My friend Steve Opperman (formerly of Temple Bags) and his wife Rebecca have started a new furniture company called Stephen Kenn. Their steel frames are all locally welded in Los Angeles and the cushions are all made of repurposed WWII military fabric. Fans of his former bag collection will see many design similarities carried over into the furniture.
In addition to their furniture collection, Steve and Beks host a neighborhood coffee shop at their workshop/showroom space on weekday mornings from 8-11am. It’s called Backdoor Coffee Club and is open to the public, but if you plan on stopping by it’s best to follow them on Twitter (@backdoor_coffee) to see if they’re closed on any given day. I personally love the idea, as I find the idea of common spaces where like-minded creatives can meet up to build together and encourage one another to be extremely important for rejuvenating a sense of community (especially in larger cities). Apolis hosted a weeklong event last December called Common Table which sought to fulfill similar goals, and I’m guessing that it won’t be the last time they do it.
Stephen Kenn/Backdoor Coffee Club
1250 Long Beach Ave., Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90021
I was looking for a small hand grinder for my home coffee setup and had almost settled on the Hario Skerton when my buddy Jaime at Stumptown suggested the Camano Coffee Mill from Red Rooster. He told me that he owned both and liked this one better because of its build quality. After using it for a few weeks, I’m inclined to agree.
The Camano coffee mill is a good looking grinder – I like the walnut accents and the little bronzed door that opens up so you can put the beans into the hopper. It’s got an adjustable conical burr grinder that will pretty much last forever, and will give you consistent grinds so that you don’t have uneven extraction when brewing your coffee.
One major advantage of this grinder over the Skerton is the fact that you can adjust the coarseness of the grind with a simple twist of an easily accessible nut on the top. The Skerton takes a little bit more work. I can go from a super coarse grind for my french press (pictured above) to something finer for filter prep very easily.
Some long overdue pictures from my trip to Chicago last month. We went to visit longtime friends of mine, two of which had a baby girl quite recently. For those who don’t know, I spent 7+ years in Chicago for both school and work. I love the city and the people there, and wish we could go back more often. Another milestone for the trip was our son’s first airplane ride – he performed admirably and slept the entire way there and back. Like father, like son.
Giordano’s stuffed pizza. While the merits of which Chicago-style pizza joint is best can be debated endlessly, I’ve had many a good spinach stuffed pizza here and have yet to be disappointed. Call me a creature of habit.
I lived in Chicago’s south side for two years – specifically, in a blue collar neighborhood called Bridgeport, the home of the Chicago White Sox. When I had left, the area was still family-oriented, diverse and relatively ungentrified. I was pleasantly surprised during this last visit to find a small coffeehouse called Bridgeport Coffee Company flourishing, where they serve in house roasted single origin coffees and blends. The espresso was subpar (mostly due to the machine and the preparation) but the made-to-order pourover coffees were excellent. This place serves flavor shots – they’re clearly not trying to be a cool guy shop, but they do roast some good coffee. Right across the street is a bar called Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar; it used to be a neighborhood dive but has been transformed into a bar that serves up craft beers and liquors. Where were these places when I lived there?
Beyond all the good food and drink that Chicago has to offer (and there’s a lot of it), I was especially grateful to be able to reconnect with longtime friends who know me well. It’s also exciting to see us all growing up together and starting families together. Surreal, but exciting.
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
A few weeks ago, I had to make a day trip to Boston for work. I try to make it a point to visit good coffee shops whenever I’m traveling somewhere, so I asked for recommendations. And that’s how I ended up at Barismo, an Arlington-based roastery that also has a small coffee bar where they serve espresso and various pourovers.
As soon as you walk in, you’ll catch a whiff of the beans being roasted on premises. This isn’t the smell of freshly ground coffee beans; it’s a slight charred and burnt smell (not a bad thing, just different). Ben, their head roaster, inspects beans that are just roasted and sorts through them to find defects.
I ordered a cup of their Kenya Othaya as a pourover. And that’s when I spotted this beauty that they were using to prepare the coffee.
The LB-1 is a prototype device that’s only being used at Barismo right now. With it, pourovers can be fully controlled by setting variables like water amount, temperature, and speed of dispensing. They have several presets for different preparations saved, but you can also manually change these options on the fly.
The result is a remarkably consistent cup of coffee via a traditionally labor-intensive process. I was happy to order a second cup of coffee just so that I could see the machine in action again.