Preview of Handsome Coffee Roasters' Coffee Bar Grand Opening Feb. 15
If you ask Michael Phillips, one of the three co-founders of Handsome Coffee Roasters, how it feels to be
T. Nguyen Espresso with milk, 5 ounces, at Handsome Coffee Roasters opening Handsome Coffee's very own coffee bar on Feb. 15 hosting Handsome Coffee's grand opening party for its very own coffee bar on February 15 (the shop may be officially open to the public sometime next week), he'll laugh and reply that the opening feels like a long, long time coming. Chris Owens, another of the Handsome co-founders, will gently remind Phillips that, from a forest-trees approach, the company has managed to finish a marathon at the pace of a sprint. Which is to say, the company got an awful lot done in less than a year.
Handsome Coffee launched not 12 months ago, in early spring last year, with Phillips, Owens and Tyler Wells jumping ship from Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea to take the helm of their very own roastery and cafe. The roasting came first: Over the last year, Handsome filled the grinders of several L.A.-area coffee shops, as well as shops across the country. And all the while, they were laying their plans for their own space in the Arts District.
The Handsome crew worked with WoodSmithe to convert their former warehouse space into a coffee bar and roastery. The finished product evokes a certain woodsy minimalism, like walking into a woodshop kept compulsively neat: The shop is outfitted with white oak and aged maple, and the counter is lined with white porcelain subway tiles. More subway tiles, gray this time, show up on a back wall, facing the bathrooms, with various illustrations -- a mustache here, a cup of coffee there -- laser-etched upon them.
T. Nguyen Interior of Handsome Coffee Roasters
In the back of the coffee bar, a standing counter in front of a glass divider gives full view of Handsome Coffee's pièce de résistance: a 1956 Probat roaster, restored and shipped in from Belgium. Owens will be found there most days, roasting the coffee that will be served just a few feet away.
The layout of the entire shop, Owens says, is intended to have a specific "line of sight." From the coffee bar, you can look straight into the roasting room, then straight into the back of the house, where the green beans are stored. If your mind's eye goes even further, you might even travel back to see the farms where the coffee grows.
But that's just all in the subconscious. If it registers and you want to "nerd out" about coffee, the Handsome crew are happy to oblige. Otherwise, their default is to simply serve you a cup of coffee and let you get on with your day. In all cases, approachability and hospitality will be paramount.
Proof Bakery will supply the pastries, and you'll have your choice of brewed coffee, espresso or espresso with milk. The espresso-with-milk drinks are essentially deconstructed macchiatos, cappuccinos and lattes and will be identified by size rather than by name to ensure that both the barista and customer know exactly what is being ordered. All drinks will be made with organic whole milk, without sweeteners.
Phillips explains that they wanted to have a space, like a bar, that encourages meeting and socializing. This explains the communal table that dominates the seating area, as well as the no-WiFi policy: Norm wouldn't pull out a laptop at Cheers, would he? In addition, there are individual seats wrapping around the counter and at a coffee bar at the front of the shop. In total, the shop seats 28.
Handsome Coffee's operating hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Those who sometimes want to go where everyone knows their name may have just found their neighborhood bar.
T. Nguyen Handsome Coffee's Probat roaster T. Nguyen Communal table at Handsome Coffee T. Nguyen Handsome Coffee Roasters