Three years is forever in coffee time. Way back in 2013, owners (and sisters) Grace and Elizabeth Rhee opened BrewWell in a hidden spot behind a supermarket in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood. It was an odd choice of location—hard to find, hidden from the street—but the space offered ample seating and quality coffee from Heart Roasters. BrewWell seemed to be thriving—until the cafe was forced to vacate after a developer purchased their building. The Rhee sisters were suddenly forced to leave BrewWell behind in January 2015 without a plan. But this story has a happy ending: BrewWell opened in a new location in the heart of Hollywood this June, part of a new neighborhood revival that sees this once underserved part of Los Angeles transformed into a serious coffee destination.
The new BrewWell lies right on Sunset Boulevard, and it’s a distinct departure from their spacious past incarnation. Housed in a small area sandwiched in between a parking lot entrance and a nightclub, the new BrewWell is more of a coffee window than a full-on cafe. The sisters “loved the idea of a walk-up concept,” Grace Rhee tells me. “In K-town, a good group of our customers were students and/or people who worked from home looking for a place to get their work done. Here in Hollywood, most of our clientele is people from the neighboring offices and businesses either looking for coffee to start their day on their way to work and those in need of a pick-me-up,” Rhee says. “We’ve definitely met amazing people in both communities.”
Designed by Lot-H Design, the new BrewWell is a very compact spot that, although pint-sized—150 square feet to be exact—offers just enough room to run a full cafe. “The whole idea of the space was to be efficient yet modern,” Rhee says. It almost feels like a parklet-type arrangement in the front. The placement of a few shady benches outside makes BrewWell Hollywood a more pedestrian-friendly location, which Rhee and her sister hope can continue the sense of community they enjoyed in Koreatown.
For coffee, Heart Roasters will continue to be BrewWell’s mainstay, but the Rhee sisters promise that future visitors can keep an eye out for other featured roasters. All the drinks are made on either a La Marzocco GB5 for espresso, or FETCO brewer for drip, all ground on Mazzer Major and Kony grinders. Non-coffee drinkers are able to order a variety of iced and hot teas by Art of Tea, cold-pressed juices from Renew Juicery, and artisanal soda from Good Luck Soda.
Various sweets are also available. BrewWell sources pastries from Quenelle, including their Guinness chocolate cake in a cup ready for an on-the-go treat. Other items to choose from include scones, cookies, pop-tarts, croissants, popsicles, and ice cream bars. In addition to food, the shop also has rotating specials on their coffee menu. All powders, syrups, and non-dairy nut milks—cashew and hazelnut—are made in-house. Their “Nut-tell-latte” is a must-try, featuring delicious house-made hazelnut milk and chocolate syrup.
Just three years since the launch of BrewWell, the Rhee sisters have so far seemed to seamlessly fit their tiny new cafe onto bustling Sunset. Soon, they hope to expand BrewWell and become a part of other communities—with each endeavor promising to offer its own new take on what a neighborhood cafe can be.