As many of you know by now, Handsome Coffee Roasters at 582 Mateo in the Arts District will change over into Los Angeles’ base of operations for Blue Bottle Coffee this week. This will effectively be the Handsome brand’s sunset. Moments of great change are usually prime fodder for introspection, and this one is certainly no different. It’s strange how easy it is to get wrapped up in things – moving so quickly that when you finally take a second to slow down, lift up your head and look around, you can be incredibly surprised at where you are.
For me, this is certainly one of those moments.
Tyler Wells, Chris Owens and I started Handsome with a vision that arguably was only half-formed at its inception. We knew we wanted a simple menu, amazing coffee and to be nice to people, but outside of that, it was pretty much a blank canvas. Since 2011, that canvas was colored by the hands of many more people than just us three: the team at Creative Space, who knew right where this little gem was tucked away at in the Arts District. Our friends at Ptarmak, who helped us become the company we wanted to be. Nathanael Balon, of WoodSmithe, who took a shell of a space and turned it into a physical manifestation of a shared dream. And my dear friend Diana, who helped make sure our message was clear and true.
These are the friends who became co-workers, the co-workers who became family, and the family that helped us do so many things we once thought impossible. There were so many good people along the way that made Handsome the company it was. They are an essential part of all the memories we now cherish so dearly. Within just three years, that whole team contributed to the conversation of specialty coffee in ways that hadn’t happened before. In that same window of time, we were a big part of one neighborhood’s growth – a neighborhood that, in my opinion, is a crucial piece of one of the most exciting cities of our time.
It was an incredible honor to embark on that journey with all of you – a journey that takes an exciting new turn this week. I will forever be grateful to every guest that walked though those doors and every co-worker who labored alongside me. More than a coffee company and more than a brand, Handsome was a collection of amazing individuals who were able to share a vision of hospitality and sincerity with everyone they met.
I, along with so many of the same folks who made Handsome great, am honored and excited to start this next chapter of sharing Blue Bottle with L.A. As we approach the transition, we’re all busy settling into new roles here: I’ve stepped into a role as the company’s Director of Training; Charlie Habegger, Handsome’s head of coffee, has joined Blue Bottle’s green coffee buying team; and Kristine Chong, who helped throw so many incredible Handsome events, is now leading events nationwide for Blue Bottle. That’s not all, either. Our roasters, baristas, wholesale department and production crew are all coming along - and looking forward to the next step. I’m thrilled to be a part of this new family, to reach for new goals, and to tackle new struggles.
Most of all though, I look forward to the chance for my team, our new friends and myself to serve all of you and provide an amazing experience every time you step through our door.
Turns out your dad was right – time flies when you’re having fun.
It’s now been about two months since we joined the Blue Bottle Coffee family. Since then, we’ve seen quite a few exciting changes around our roastery and café. We hooked up all of our employees with health, dental and vision benefits. We began tasting and serving Blue Bottle selections in our café. Perhaps most thrillingly, we expanded our offices into a large (and soon to be air-conditioned!) space next door. Walking through HQ these days is like a case study in collaboration: If you time it just right, you can grab a macchiato from a Handsome barista, then turn around and say hello to a member of Tonx’s L.A.-based team, then tell a visiting Blue Bottler where to park her rental.
Charlie (roasting), Bear and Erik (wholesale), Michael (Handsome-co founder)
In other words, the dust has settled a bit. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still quite a bit of work to do. As we transition to Blue Bottle’s first L.A. café over the next couple months, you can expect to see even more improvements. In early July, wholesale and web customers will be able to order Blue Bottle selections along with their favorite Handsome coffees. Within the next six weeks (fingers crossed), we’ll secure an organic certification for our roastery, thus allowing us stock all of Blue Bottle’s drip and espresso blends. And around the cafe, we’ve already started making tweaks – offering almond milk from our friends at Almond Milk LA, bringing in some new merchandise, and developing a Blue Bottle espresso blend exclusive to Los Angeles.
Once it’s all Blue Bottle in August, we intend to throw a party. You’re invited, of course.
So what won’t change? Well, the coffee will continue to be roasted, packed and served right here at our Mateo Street location. It will still be available to experience in public education sessions every Tuesday at 4 p.m. You’ll still see the same baristas, who themselves will be committed to the very same things that brought us and Blue Bottle together in the first place: a commitment to finding, roasting and serving the most delicious coffees available. An obsessive attention to detail. A respect for, and recognition of, our guests – the people who make it all possible. The main difference now is that there are more of us contributing to your experience.
Nik Bauman (Tonx), James Freeman (Blue Bottle) and Michael
Make no mistake: The integration process is a big, hairy animal, and we’re still hard at work on many of the details. These things take time and energy – and, as it happens, many a 9 p.m. macchiato that we probably could have done without. As we keep plugging away, we’ll be in touch with updates about our progress and what you can expect in the next eight to 12 weeks.
We’re shaping up to be a great team – one that remains honored and excited to serve you coffee.
It’s not too late: Handsome gift boxes for dad available in our store all weekend. $140 including tax and priceless style, sorry not the bike.
Calling all early birds: our shop will be open at 7 AM this Saturday and Sunday. Why sleep in when you can jumpstart the weekend with coffee and the neighborhood crew?
We’ve put together a little box as a token of love and appreciation for the men in our lives who embody wit, charm and class. Available in store at 582 Mateo St. for $140.
Come Thursday, we’ll be manning the coffee bar at a special pop-up night market with some special friends. It’s free, just need to RSVP at www.lacanvas.com/6thstreet
Handsome Coffee Roasters is proud indeed to present the first ever Blue Bottle Coffee Company offering roasted by our very own hands here in LA. We’d like to direct your attention to our store’s very limited supply of a coffee from the Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF) estate in Southeastern Brazil. Obata is nicknamed the “Brazilian Gesha”, probably because of the complexity it brings: ripe and deeply distinct flavors of cranberry jam, sweet rhubarb, merlot.
Coffee has always been a placid intersection for birds of a different color, us included: At Handsome, we have welders, actors, folks with masters degrees in Social Sciences (another who’s receiving hers in Divinity today!), people who know how to clean pistols, tour with bands, professionally advocate for immigrants’ rights, and a guy who used to live in New Zealand. Coffee believers and lovers of good handiwork tend pull toward each other in little time. Throw years of coffee experience into the mixture and what we’re witnessing now is one of these intersections, with pretty delicious consequences.
The beans in these tins were natural-processed at the estate, meaning the coffee seeds were dried inside the complete piece of fruit after picking—as opposed to fermenting all the fruit off and scrubbing them clean—a process that surrounds the coffee seed with concentrated fruit sugars. If done carefully this method might produce lots as worthwhile as this one. A studied respect for the Earth is the rest of this package.
Join us tomorrow (Wed, 5/14) from 5 - 7 PM for Savour this Pop-Up:
Enjoy a delicious tasting menu prepared by Savour this Sauce, M. Greenwood Jams, Almond Milk LA, the Produce Project, and yours truly, for only $20.
All proceeds go to Savour this Sauce’s Kickstarter campaign.