Well, I’m really making it for everyone.
Well, then go ahead and stop because you’ve already lost.
“Everyone” isn’t an audience. “Everyone” is a byproduct of an incredibly successful thing that was made for a far more specific bunch of people. Don’t ever make something for “Everyone” make it for someone. And make that person love it.” — Dan Sinker (via seanbonner)
Once again, we’re doing some growing over here at Handsome Coffee. So, we’re looking for a few good hands to help us do what we do. Specifically a couple of baristas to work our bar, as well as some off site event / festival type business.
The traits we’re looking for in these folks are a keen sense of hospitality, problem solving ability, understanding and managing of priorities, and a drive to be the best. If you know about coffee, that’s also pertinent, but not required. You must, however, like coffee.
If you are interested in being part of Team Handsome, please send an email to email@example.com with a brief explanation of who you are and why you’d like to join up. You can include a resume if you’d like, but it’s entirely possible it won’t be read, so don’t stress it!
Historically, we’ve received a lot of emails for something like this. I’ll try to respond to all of them.
Here’s one from David Boyle. This one just missed twitter’s 140 character limit so we’re posting Chris’s response here.
David Boyle (@DaveedBoyle)
Thanks for the question David,
As a guest in these countries I want to be very careful to not pretend I know what’s best for them. I am neither a farmer or economist. Also, we should not assume all farmers are impoverished. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of room to improve the business we all love very much. These are complicated and multifaceted issues. In this explanation I will over simplify some things and there are some things I just plain do not know. Please think of this as a starting point for discussion. I know, you still want an answer.
Ok, this will sound simple: price.
Our retail customers need to be comfortable paying a higher price, so that I can pay a higher price to the producer. The prices paid need to be tied to quality on both sides. This also ties in with what I see as a need for a stronger separation between commodity and specialty.
Let’s dive in a bit and look at Costa Rica, since that’s where I happened to be when you asked the question. The general structure in Costa Rica has been that the coffee producer, produces cherry, they deliver that cherry to a receiving station, that receiving station represents a bigger mill. That mill can be a co-op, a private mill, a multinational or a commercial mill that has an estate and also buy cherry. Since the cherry producer is selling cherry to the mill, it depends on what happens in the C market. So if the market is high they get good prices, if the market is low, bad prices. In the last three years the prices have been pretty good. The cherry producer received from $200-240 per Fenega (a standard Costa Rican cherry measurement. 500 lbs cherry which equals 100 green).
Now the market is low. So, the producer is receiving less than half of what he received a year ago. That means they are receiving less than his cost of production. The cost of producing one Fenega in Costa Rica is $120-130. They are currently receiving about $100 per Fenega.
So, what’s the consequence? This year the producer will fertilize less or not at all, he will not prune, and he won’t care about harvesting. This will lead to less quality, less production and aging of the trees on the farms. This is part of the reason why Costa Rica has gone from producing 4 million fenegas to 1.8 million fenegas in the last 12 years. Of course, population, development and foreign investment of industry have also contributed to the loss of coffee production in the central and west valley. No matter what the causes, as time goes on Costa Rica is producing less coffee. To add to that Costa Rica is a big consumer of coffee. Costa Ricans consumer around 30% of production. 4.3 kilo per capita per year. That means less and less coffee for export as population grows.
And then there is Roya (rust). The rust in Costa Rica has affected 30% of the harvest. That means that this coming year the low and medium altitude farms will produce much less coffee or none at all. Rust is a fungus that propagates in humid and warm weather conditions. A good healthy plant has a much better chance of resisting disease. The more you are about to visit the plant with multi minerals and the more preventive care you give, the less likely it will get sick. These measures obviously cost money. If Costa Rica had had good prices in general, and the producer could have fertilized, and could have afforded to take preventative measures, why do we have rust and not a good healthy plant?
Well, 1) Costa Rica had very good cherry prices and 2) Costa Rica had very dry weather conditions. These two effects put the producer in a comfort zone. If the weather is dry you cannot fertilize. You need rain for soil fertilization. However, there are two ways to fertilize, soil and spray (topical). There is no need for rain with spray. But, due to the “comfort zone” that did not happen in a consistent way.
So, in November, when the harvest was starting Costa Rica had intense rains for two weeks. This was the perfect condition for rust. But once you start harvest it is too late to spray or fertilize because you can have chemical residue in the bean since it is already developed. This wiped out the low and mid altitude crops. All that coffee was harvested in very poor condition. The rust drops the leaves and also the cherry. Any cherry that remained was burned from sun exposure.
“Ojo de Gallo” is the other fungus that develops in high elevations with humid and cold conditions. The producers that were able to really care for their farms in the high altitude regions had no real problems. So for this year, the 2013-2014 crop, there will be almost zero harvest in the low, majorly effected harvest in the middle and good production in the higher altitudes.
However, Costa Rica has a strong micro-mill system. So, what happens with the micro-miller? The micro-miller who, compared to the “cherry producer”, has had good prices, can fertilize, can nurture, prune, care about good harvesting and can produce good microlots. They can continue to produce coffee. Because of the separation (somewhat) from the C market and the relatively stable (and potentially higher) price, this is a much more economically sustainable system.
So, it seems one way forward is less and less “cherry producers” and more and more micro-millers. When the micro mill revolution started in Costa Rica 12 years ago there was one micro-mill, now there are 150. They expect to add another 50 micro-mills over the next 4 years.
Costa Rica has a high cost of production due to it strong social structure. Coffee production will move more and more to boutique coffee and more micro-mills. From my limited point of view this looks to be a good thing. Higher prices paid to the producers means more stability. They can better pay their workers, they can better manage the farm (which in theory means a more productive farm and more tasty coffee) and possible make a little money. This is business after all.
Have you ever wondered how long it takes for a coffee cherry to hit full maturation? Are you curious about which variety of coffee tree has the tastiest fruit? Maybe you just want to know where to get the best street food in Antigua. Well, Chris Owens is in Central America visiting farms and purchasing green coffee while you’re reading this. We’d like to offer you the opportunity to live vicariously through Chris by asking any and all questions you may have about the mysterious world of coffee production and buying.
Tweet or instagram your questions to @handsomeroaster with the #handsomeQs and we will have Christopher send back reports from the field as he works his way through the trip.
In case you have country specific questions, take a look at his travel schedule below. Christopher will select a few questions each week and answer them here on the tweeter, tumblr, instagram, etc.
Not only will you get your question answered but we will also send along a 1lb bag of our newly retooled Dandy Espresso to those with best questions as chosen by Team Handsome.
El Salvador - Chris will be staying in Santa Ana with the ever wonderful Aida Battle (producer of Finca Tanzania) and J. Hill. He will also be spending time with Luis Rodriguez from Virmax
Guatemala - Chris will be about making new friends in Antigua, cupping coffees with Virmax, traveling to Huehuetanango to visit Finca La Bolsa and more. There will also be an evening with Edwin Martinez of Onyx coffee.
Costa Rica - A trip to cup with our good friends at Coopedota and travel the region looking for new relationships.
Nicaragua - Cupping and farm visits with The Miersch family in Jinotega followed by a quick trip for more cupping at Benificio Las Segovias in the town of Ocotal.
Honduras - Chris will visit IHCAFE, the national body regulating coffee in Honduras. From there he will go to Benificio San Vicente followed by a cupping in Marcala.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
This is the first installment of travel blogging from Chris Owens as he heads out for a month buying coffee and meeting producers.
“So what did I pack for 4 weeks and 5 Central American countries? I like the saying “take half as many clothes as you think you need and twice as much money”, but still think I brought too much. Here’s the list:
Yellow vaccination card
2 pair pants, 1 black and 1 grey - outlier OB
Here is what outlier has to say about the pants:
Ultralight Summer Trousers (Gray)
The ones that barely exist. Ultralight Doubleweave is soft, supple and tough. It breathes incredibly well, with a soft lux handfeel and elegant drape. Yet when it comes to durability it’ll outclass fabrics more than three times its weight.
The Ultralight fabric is a yarn-dyed doublewoven intimate blend of various nylons. The micro-nylon fibers create a soft loose inner weave that helps pull moisture from the skin, while slightly thicker nylon is tightly woven on the outside to give it a degree of water resistance and excellent abrasion resistance. The “self-cleaning” nanosphere treatment adds in some wine, beer and iced coffee resistance. A four-way stretch means you’ll move with a breezy freedom all across a beautiful summer.
The Outlier OG Pant (Black)
The Schoeller Dryskin fabric is essentially the same as the Ultralight just, well, a little heavier. Oh, and if you completely saturate either of these pants, they will dry in minutes (generally around 15-20).
1 waterproof shell - Patagonia
1 dark blazer - Nau “travel” blazer
1 dark navy grenadine tie - Drakes of London (If you are going to only have one tie this is it)
The blazer and tie are nice to have. In airports and on airplanes I feel like people treat you better when you dress well. They also come in handy if you need to dress up for an event on your trip. You never know!
2 long-sleeve Ministry of Supply Apollo dress shirts, 1 white & 1 Pink.
Too much technology in these shirts to put here but check them out at www.ministryofsupply.com. They have a new pant out too. I may have to put those to the test next time.
1 pair swim shorts - Apolis (double as shorts)
1 swim trunks - Parke & Ronen (very small. They DO NOT double as shorts)
3 merino wool t-shirts (2 black, 1Natural) - smartwool
If you are wounding “why merino wool?” well, wool stays cleaner, seems to refuse to smell even after constant daily wear, keeps you warm even when wet, is effective at wicking sweat and has a bit of natural stretch.
3 pair merino wool long socks, all dark colors - Smartwool
2 pair merino wool short socks, 1 white and 1 black - Smartwool
Same benefits as the t-shirts
1 pair Chelsea boots with a slight commando sole - Allen edmunds
Easy to slip on and off at the airport, can dress them up or down, and has a bit of traction.
1 Merino wool Buff (super versatile)
3 pairs underwear - Calvin Klein Prostretch Reflex low-rise trunk
1 sleep mask
1 pair headphones - custom JH Audio IEMs
1 iPad - ipad 3
1 pair sunglasses - Warby Parker
1 Phone - iPhone 5
1 modified Aeropress (with paper filters. I prefer them)
1 Hario brew scale
1 Porlex hand grinder
1 Keep Cup
Some Handsome Coffee, of course
1 SterPEN Journey LCD
1 Wahl Lithium Ion beard trimmer (powerful motor and rapid charging)
1 Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter (I love this thing!)
In room laundry kit (a flat disk sink stopper and a braided surgical tubing clothesline)
aLOKSAK bags to pack things in
What do I pack all these, things in? A Tom Bihn 19L Synapse backpack.
I purposely selected a smaller backpack to help force myself to re-evaluate what to bring. The size of the backpack is a very real and logical Limit. You are the one who has to carry it around.
I’ll be doing a lot of packing and unpacking this trip so I’ll try and put a little video together to show you guys how I pack is all into such a small backpack.”
We’re looking for a barista or two to come down to Handsome HQ and work with us at the coffee bar.
We’re pretty specific about how we do it over here. Now, we reckon we can teach you about coffee if you don’t already know.
What we don’t reckon is that we can teach you to be nice to people, anticipate our customers’ needs, help make a great team greater, solve problems, and think about how you can make Handsome better. That’s a skill set that’s inherent. It’s only half about coffee.
If you are passionate about customer service, the satisfaction of hard work, being part of a wonderful team, and you really love coffee, let us know. Because that’s what we’re after.
If you’re interested in being a part of Team Handsome, send us an email (anthony at handsome coffee dot com) and tell us why. Resumes are ok too, but we’d really like to know who you are and why you’re a great addition. If you live in LA, come on down to the shop and speak with Anthony between 11am and 4pm Wednesday through Friday or 11am to 3pm on Saturday.
Today we’re releasing a new coffee. It’s new to us, new to you, and new to the world. Until today, all the coffee grown by members of Regalo de Popayan in Colombia was sold through a commodities market. And this is a really special moment for us and for the producers, as their hard work has blossomed into a new relationship with us and a marked improvement in revenues as a direct result of their efforts to improve quality.
Regalo de Popayan is comprised of two growers associations - APROSEP and AGRICOD.
APROSEP is only a year old and it’s growing quickly. New members are still joining and the group is supported by the mayor’s office.
AGRICOD is a group of women coffee producers established in 2007. These ladies take a huge amount of pride in their work and it shows in the coffee. Chris was fortunate enough to be invited to lunch with one of the leaders, Liliana, where she told him the coffee is so good because “Ladies do a better job of processing, work harder, and are more responsible.”
The area is named after the Mesata de Popayan, a high altitude plateau that is a unique growing environment in Colombia since it’s relatively flat.
The average farm size here is between 1 and 2 hectares, and production is mostly organic, although not certified. Most plots are densely planted with a mix of fruit trees.
Unrelated to coffee but interesting none the less is “el cerro de la tetilla.” This roughly translates to “nipple hill.” Nipple hill is the source of much folklore in the region, including a tale that the indigenous people hid gold in the nipple. The area is quite rich with minerals and gold. This often creates conflict with mining companies, so it’s important for the growers here to gain more stability in the region to avoid being displaced.
Popayan grows Caturra, Colombia, and Typica at 1750 meters above sea level. There are two harvests, a small one in October and November and a larger one May through June. It’s been a very dry season and producers are concerned about the yield next harvest.
Cupping and brewing have shown us baked apples, cinnamon and allspice, cocoa finish, and round body. This is definitely a Comfort coffee. Something you can sip on all day.
Much like changing a tire or shining your boots, manually brewing a great cup of coffee is a skill any Handsome coffee drinker should have under their belt. This December, 2010 world barista champion Michael Phillips will help you be able to do just that. He will be hosting three classes, one on every Tuesday leading up to his Birthday on the 21st. Each one will walk you through how to make a great cup with a different style of brewer. Learn on your very own kit and then buy one as a gift for your family and friends, fully prepared to show them just the right way to use it! We will even have craft paper and coffee bag ribbons on hand if you want to get your wrapping done early! There is limited availability so swing by the shop to get your spot early! Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chemex and V60 class
Date: December 4th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Chemex brewer, filters, 12 oz bag of coffee
Ever wonder who Peter Schlumbohm is? Or perhaps you are confused about what all the cool kids mean when they talk about “bloom time”? In this Handsome event World Barista Champion Michael Phillips will clear up all this and more when he walks you through the process of how to brew an amazing cup using the Chemex and V60 pour over brew methods. Learn historical tidbits, best brew ratios and basic technique for these two easy to use coffee brew methods.
Aeropress and the traveling brew
Date: December 11th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Aeropress brewer, 12 oz bag of coffee
You may not be able to take your local talented Handsome Coffee barista with you when you hit the road for the holidays, you can certainly at least bring some beans. This class will have Michael showing you the ropes of brewing with the ever wonderful Aeropress brewer and mini Porlex hand grinder. An unstoppable duo for any road warrior who will not settle when it comes to their daily cup.
French, Clever and the fine art of steeping
Date: December 18th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Clever brewer, filters, 12 oz bag of coffee
What happens when you let a french press sit steeping for a full hour? Michael goes through the horror of it in this class just so that you never have to at home. (he brewed for your sins…) Steeping brew methods like the french press and clever are a whole different ball game. Discover how to make a french press cleaner than spring sheets and a clever richer than scrooge McDuck in this one hour brew bonanza.
Sign up at handsomecoffee.com or email email@example.com to reserve your spot!
Fresh off the boat, after much ado and excitement, our first repeat offering is here. Brought to you all the way from 1550 meters above sea level, hailing from El Sauce, Santa Barbara, Honduras, please welcome the catuai varietal that’s been fully washed and patio dried under the watchful eye of the man himself,
“DON” MEDARDO SAGASTUME!!!!!!!!
Chris was fortunate enough to spend a little time down in Honduras with the man and here’s what he had to say.
My Trip to Honduras by Christopher C. Owens
“Medardo Sagastume is a first generation coffee farmer. He purchased his farm in 1980 and he and his brothers have managed it ever since. The brothers work hard to maintain the farm and the ecology surrounding it. Shade on the farm is provided by Musaceae (the family of plants that contain the banana and plantain) and various fruit trees. They perform two cleans of the farm a year to remove the exhausted plant material. This is hard work done typically done with a machete. These selective prunings of the coffee plantation are done to ensure the healthiest and most productive coffee plants possible. Harvest typically starts in the month of February and ends in June with the bulk being February through April.
Don Medardo uses only clean water for fermentation and washing. It takes roughly 14 hours on hot days and 18 hours on cold days to properly ferment the coffee. He is also diligent to not contaminate the water sources to further protect the health of the farm as well as the surrounding forests. The coffee pulp is composted and applied to the farm and the residual waters are deposited in oxidation lagoons to also be used within the farm. Don Medardo has his own small rustic wet mill. All his coffee is milled on the farm and dried on his own patio. This allows him total control over his process. After it is pre-dried it only has to travel an hour and a half to the San Vicente Mill.
Don Medardo grows 100% Red Catuai
This year the harvest was quite late. This caused everything to ripen all at once. While everything being ripe sounds like it would be a good thing, since the coffee is picked selectively and individually, for only the single red cherries, it made it difficult to get all the ripe coffee of the plant in time. Don Medardo struggled to find enough pickers this year which further compounded the problem. So a lot of his coffee stayed on the tree unpicked. This meant it missed the optimal point of ripeness and won’t be sold as specialty. So Sad. What did make it our way is delicious!
The area of Santa Barbara, in the mountains overlooking Lago de Yojoa, is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I’ve seen Norwegian Fjords!”!”
This is one of our very favorite coffees, and a sentimental one, too. This was the first coffee that floored all of us, and our first farmer relationship coffee.
NEW YORK — Hello everyone, Park here.
This Sunday, I’ve got the pleasure in participating in the second annual Coffee and Cocktail Mash Up alongside my bartending partner, Jane Danger of Jane’s Sweet Buns. Last year Jane and I put together a drink that was a general crowd pleaser, and apparently a judge pleaser earning us the victory. Jane has got a delicious beverage planned for this year, and I’ve got just the coffee to go with it.
(File Photo: Park ruins a perfectly nice photo op with his teammate, the lovely Jane)
I’m doing a unique extraction of Handsome’s Dukunde Kawa that is going to really make the drink sing. Jane and I were both very excited to hear that the organizer or last years event, Cora Lambert, decided to get the band back together. Cora is headed to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail with our own Michael Phillips, to lead a seminar called “Coffee: The Missing Ingredient” and the proceeds of the event will help to send the panelists to the Big Easy. Come check us out at the TriBeCa WeatherUp this Sunday at 5 pm!
LOS ANGELES — Over here at the HHQ, we’ve been aching for a musical interpretation of our philosophies on coffee. Especially if such a thing could be done with dance moves and comedic asides.
Well don’t that beat all. Lookie here.
Thanks to The Apple Sisters (@TheAppleSisters) and the cast of thousands that made this possible.
NEW YORK — Hello everyone, J. Park here (@jparkbrannen). I am excited to tell every one that the much adored Iris Café (www.iriscafenyc.com) in Brooklyn, NY has opened its second location just down the street at 22 Columbia Place.
We at Handsome are proud to be a part of both the new location and Iris’s first location two doors down. You can find amazing food, as well as delicious coffee under one roof.
The owner, Rachel Graville, has been a dear friend of mine for years and I was giddy to hear she wanted to bring us on to her coffee program for both locations. The original café is consistently one of the better places to dine and enjoy coffee in New York, serving both sit down diners as well as an increasingly busy to-go business.
Having become a big part of the community in Willowtown (the part of Brooklyn Heights where Iris is located), Rachel learned people wanted more of the café than she could effectively serve. After months of cooking up a plan, Rachel with her business partner Salah Hamden, had the great idea to open up a small grocery location (in the big city, we call it a bodega). Selling fresh fruit and vegetables, a large supply of dry goods along side a full menu of coffee drinks as well as making all of the food served at Iris Café to take away.
Over the past two months I’ve been working with the head of the coffee program, Sarah Blackwell, on integrating Handsome into the already great coffee bar. Not only did the crew at Iris take to the training, but they also switched to the more straightforward menu we use at our own coffee bar in downtown Los Angeles. The staff at Iris have been incredibly eager to learn, and took to our system quite well. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see my favorite café get even better.
HHQ — Because around 1:00AM someone smashed one of our windows and took an iPad. Wait, no, that sucked!
But there’s a silver lining that makes our loss a net gain. How so? Because we found out that we have some great friends in this little town of ours.
The smash and grab took place right around midnight. But no matter the hour, some of the most upstanding folks in Los Angeles (which puts them high in the running for most upstanding worldwide) waited by our broken door until we had been alerted and the LAPD had arrived. It’s just like Main Street, Anytown, USA, folks.
And we’d like to thank these gents for looking out for us, and really making the Arts District the community that it is. We’ve said it since we started, there really was nowhere else that Handsome wanted to be. This neighborhood welcomed us with a warm smile. And we love it.
Huge thanks to Wolf Hudson, Johnny White, and Marc Free for being the greatest neighbors anyone could ask for. Thanks for having our back.
—Tyler Wells (& the rest of us, too)
NEW YORK — Carrie Webster is a beloved member of the Joe team in New York. Recently she was diagnosed with breast cancer and is about to undergo treatments. One of the great things about the coffee community is everyone tends to rally around when someone in the business is in need…so in that spirit we’re happy to support the “Baristas For Boobs” event happening in NYC tonight.
The event flier is attached above. Attendees can expect to walk away with a chance at some awesome merch from all sorts of wonderful coffee companies, including Handsome. Our own Park Brannen will be in attendance. Stop by and support a great cause if you can! And if you’d like to show some financial support but can’t be there, write Park at PARK (at) HANDSOMECOFFEE.COM and he will fawn all over you.
Best wishes, Carrie!
Check them out this Friday, April 13th:
The FIRST 30 people to buy a coffee at the new Spring on 4/13 will receive a 4oz sample bag of whole bean Handsome Coffee. It’s a win-win situation.
If you haven’t been to the Grand Central Market, you’re really dropping the ball. It’s unique, diverse, delicious, and well worth a visit.
Add Spring on Twitter @SpringForCoffee and go see them this Friday!
The new Spring for Coffee is located at 317 S Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, and is open from 9am - 6pm.
See you there!
NEW YORK — Today in South Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, the Handsome-NYC team has taken over the beloved Southside Coffee (@SouthsideCoffee), a new friend of ours. We’ve got the fabulous Erik J. Becker behind bar with the rest of our crew in the house supporting him.
Just a few weeks to go, but we couldn’t wait for our own coffee bar to open. So we decided to get behind some of the best people we know who will soon be serving our coffee on one of the best corners in Brooklyn. Come get a drink from Erik and look for Handsome to pop up on the shelves very soon.
—J. Park Brannen (@jparkbrannen)
NEW YORK — Here in NY, Joe is a pillar of the coffee scene. Seven locations around the city consistently serve some of the best coffee you can find in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and we’re a proud part of its latest: the Pro Shop (click here: http://www.joetheartofcoffee.com/locations.htm).
131 W. 21st St.
NY, NY 10011
Open Monday - Saturday from 8a - 5p
What’s the Pro Shop? Well, basically, owner Jonathan Rubinstein wanted to put to practice the great ideas he’s seen around specialty coffee in the past few years. By creating a space where the public and the coffee professional alike could both flock to, Jonathan is doing everyone here a favor. Serving multiple roasters coffees, in several different methods, as well as partnering with EspressoParts to offer all of the hard to find parts and pieces us coffee nerds often need in a pinch, Joe is bringing a much needed “pro” hub to the New York Coffee Community. We’re honored to be a part of this concept. Stop on by for a look!
-J. Park Brannen (@jparkbrannen)
LOS ANGELES — One of the great things about coffee is that it is grown in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Sure would be nice to know someone who gets to go to these idyllic locations, wouldn’t it? As luck would have it, our coffee buyer and co-founder Chris Owens (@SingleOrigin on Twitter) is in Central and South America, wrapping up a three week buying trip. We will have a full report of his adventures, but for now enjoy these pictures as a little preview of things to come.
Solar drying process in Honduras
Honduras: Don Medardo…the Don Medardo of @HCR_DonMedardo fame
Still waiting for the Google Translation…
If it impresses on this table…you may soon find it on yours. (Stay tuned for more)
I remember - when I first started at Handsome - hearing of a chef named Gary Menes. His legend preceded him: Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and Joachim Splichal’s Patina are just two of the recognizable ticks on his resume. One of my bosses told me to expect him in the next few days, and to make sure we set aside some coffee for him to serve at his new pop-up restaurant, Le Comptoir.
I fully expected to meet a chef who would be in no mood to make small talk; weathered by years of work in restaurant kitchens and hardened by success.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Gary Menes, Chef and owner of Le Comptoir
Le Comptoir is a reflection of Gary’s dream: 12 counter seats situated around a small kitchen, where he and his two sous-chefs create a dining experience you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. Gary bakes his bread using an 18-year-old starter, peruses local gardens for hyper-seasonal ingredients, and plates each of the five courses on a counter just a few feet from where you sit.
One of Le Comptoir’s sous-chefs, preparing the 4th course
This unique level of intimacy with the process of creating a meal is further emphasized by Gary’s incredible hospitality: I’ve never felt more welcome at someone’s table. Period.
Gary plating the final course
Gary also takes his coffee service more seriously than most specialty coffee shops. He weighs each batch, monitors his water temperatures with a thermometer, and brews using a v60 with a scale and timer. Some of the best Handsome brewed coffee I’ve had has come from Le Comptoir.
If you live in Southern California, make reservations and go meet Gary Menes. It’s a dinner you need to experience. And go this weekend - there will be a small gift from Handsome Coffee that I think you’ll enjoy.
We are incredibly excited to announce that we’ll be working with FIX Coffee in Echo Park.
FIX Coffee Bar
Join us this Saturday (3/24) from 9am to 7pm at FIX - The Handsome Coffee Crew will be spending some time behind the bar. Come say hello to Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and myself! We’ll be pulling our Scouts Honor espresso, and a few single origins on the brew bar.
Anca’s Romanian will be serving traditional Romanian flatbread on the outdoor patio - and it will be delicious.
FIX is located at 2100 Echo Park Avenue, LA, 90026.
Trust me. I’m a doctor.
These are our good friends:
Stephen Kenn and his wife, Beks.
Stephen builds beautiful furniture:
Damn beautiful furniture.
Steve is like a real-life version of the guy from the Notebook. A handsome, charming, and humble craftsman who rides motorcycles, opens doors for his wife, and likely has a whole bunch of other enviable skills.
What does this have to do with Handsome?
Steve and Beks run the Back Door Coffee Club (BDCC) - a space in downtown Los Angeles which showcases his furniture, and serves Handsome coffee brewed on a v60 and Chemex. If you’re looking for a great place to relax, go to the BDCC.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better vibe and friendlier people.
Visit the BDCC between 8am - 11am, Monday to Friday. You can find them at 944 McGarry St, Los Angeles. Look for the motorcycles parked out front.
<3 Jesse (@twofistedangelo)
LOS ANGELES — We are officially open for business. As such, we’d like to extend an invitation to you for a visit when you have the chance.
7 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Monday through Friday)
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Our company is headquartered in the downtown Arts District of Los Angeles, California. This location features a full-service coffee bar with open views of our roasting operations. We roast all our coffee in-house on a seasonal basis, featuring top farms of Central America, South America and East Africa.
Our roaster is a 1956 UG-22 Probat, which was refurbished in Belgium during 2011 and air-lifted to California for installation at our location.
The Coffee Bar features copper, aged maple and oak as the main finish materials. The general architecture features original wood trusses, extensive glasswork and natural daytime lighting. From the front, a guest can see our entire operation where we receive green coffee from the farms, roast it to our profile and serve it to the people of the Arts District.
Whole bean coffee, espresso drinks, brewed coffee and merchandise are available for sale at this location. Please visit us when you can.
LOS ANGELES — We are truly in the home stretch. We’ve had friends over to the space in the past few days. Tonight we’re throwing a gala event for the Arts District of Los Angeles — the place we will be calling home for a long time to come.
Here’s a look at our past four months in a lovely capsule. Our partnership with WoodSmithe (www.woodsmithe.com), also of the Arts District, has been rewarding beyond words. So here’s a video about it. Please enjoy. And please stop by should you get the chance in the coming days and weeks. The doors shall be open for business very soon, but you folks are welcome anytime we’re around. We built this space for us to share.
Justin’s next stop was Salt’s Cure, a neighborhood spot in West Hollywood that’s open for lunch and dinner as well as brunch on the weekends. The restaurant sources the best ingredients possible and then prepares literally everything in-house down to the bread, and though chicken isn’t normally his thing, Justin highly recommends the chicken salad sandwich. Next time you’re in West Hollywood, don’t forget to check out this amazing spot with some of the best food in town which you can follow with a bit of smooth Handsome Coffee. You might even run into Justin since he’s definitely planning on going back soon.
Justin was pretty excited to head out to Red Medicine near Restaurant Row on La Cienega Blvd. Red Medicine has a great team, and it was fun to hang out at the bar to check out the menu and take a sneak peek into the kitchen before hours. In fact, the menu was so tempting that Justin went back in the evening for the #60 cocktail (a pear crusta) and the Banh Mi plus sweet potatoes. Banh Mi and sweet potatoes are only served at the bar which is pretty awesome since Justin always enjoys chatting with bartenders.
Justin is our favorite beaver at Handsome Coffee Roasters. You can generally find him here:
But, lately Justin’s been restless, so we’re sending him out on some adventures around town. First stop: Paper or Plastik.
What makes Paper or Plastik so unique? It’s a 3-fer: coffee shop, cultural space and boutique.
Yasha, Anyah, Marina and Luke work together to make a space that stands for quality without compromise. Yasha tells me the space took some blood, sweat and tears to get off the ground, but looking at the beautiful space and the happy customers, I can say the result is worth it.
If you’re in the neighborhood, on the way to the Grove or just looking for something new to try, swing by Paper or Plastik for coffee and a snack and check out the schedule of events at MiMoDa the dance studio, screening room and theater space directly adjacent to Paper or Plastik. There’s always something interesting and exciting going on.
Los Angeles — It’s a well established fact that everyone here at Handsome Coffee Roasters loves to eat. Just the other day, Chris Owens and I drove over to Bäco Mercat for lunch.
Bäco is great; they brew Handsome Coffee, make delicious food, and have a full bar stocked with tasty adult beverages.
More Delicious Food (Extra Bonus: Owens’ stylish sunglasses)
The food was great - I finished mine within 3 minutes (I really love eating, it’s almost a problem) - but this is what made the visit especially special:
Nick, the Bartender at Baco
Nick was awesome. Take a look at the photo; he didn’t stand still long enough for me to get a picture of him in focus. He’s a damn good bartender and server - our drinks and water were never empty, he was friendly, and he took great care of us. We really love hospitable and professional people. A lot.
Bäco has a Twitter, you can follow them at @bacomercat. You can also go say hello to Nick. Tell him Handsome Coffee sent you…
…it will make you look cool - I’m talking Bodhi in “Point Break” cool.
<3 Jesse (@twofistedangelo)