In an ever-shifting Los Angeles coffee landscape, it’s important to remember that beautiful people need more than beautiful places to go to enjoy beautiful cups of coffee. They need, from time to time, the beautiful cups of coffee brought to them—because frankly who has the time to look for parking in the Arts District anymore—and Elabrew, from its inception as a quality cafe serving the Yahoo! Center, to a mobile coffee truck, to slangin’ cups at Coachella, Elabrew has gone where the people are working. Now, they’re doing one better, planning a new cafe right in downtown Los Angeles, a city in which the novel concept of having a vital downtown is still so glittering, most residents insist on spelling the neighborhood with a capital D. Elabrew’s new shop on 6th and Main—right across from Cole’s French Dip and not-so-secret bar The Varnish, joins other DTLA folk like G&B in proffering fine cups to those Angelenos working closer to the heart. Let’s let the owners Ela-borate on this buildout of summer.
As told to Sprudge by Amanda Ryrholm.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and how it all got started?
Elabrew Coffee started with a vision of cultivating a specialty coffee experience, where a person feels contentment and inspiration while experiencing excellent coffee. Since opening the first shop in the Colorado Center (Yahoo! Center) in Santa Monica in 2011, and launching the Elabrew coffee truck, we have been a work in progress working towards this visionary goal on a daily basis.
In 2012, we officially changed our name to Elabrew Coffee. Joy, the owner, originally started the company under Brew Coffee Bar but the name was too common to trademark. We therefore integrated ‘Ela’ and fused it with Brew. We wanted to elevate your coffee experience and tie in the nuances of the coffee industry such as the elevations in which coffee is grown, thus the name Elabrew Coffee was conceived. With the name change came a series of positive changes. We rebranded the company, starting with the look and feel of the brand. Joerael Elliott, our Art Director, is mainly responsible for the revitalization and creation of the beautiful art murals in our Santa Monica shop, as well as the custom spray paint job on our Coffee Truck. Joerael has a background in graffiti and street art, as well as being a veteran barista. He has a highly conceptual approach when designing out a space. The approach is based off a certain character, giving the environment a somewhat narrative vibe, using subtle symbolism in the painted element to the materials. This creates an installation-like atmosphere, that engages the customer/viewer who arrives in the space.
We started with Stumptown Coffee three years ago, which worked out very well for us. Since then we have had the opportunity to introduce our customers to a breadth of amazingly consistent and delightful coffees. Right now, we have Ritual, Kuma, and Ceremony Roasters on deck, but are always open to trying and testing new coffees. Our coffee truck has allowed us to reach new coffee drinkers and share good coffee on the road, serving private events (TV and movie sets, company events, birthday parties, weddings) and public events (fundraisers, city, and schools). We have also had the opportunity to serve large scale events like Coachella Music Festival for the past two years. Last year at Coachella we served Stumptown Coffee. This year we set up a booth and served Ritual and Kuma Coffee. We were also sponsored by Red Bull and created a Red-Bull-infused drink just for Coachella. It’s important and always fun for us to keep our experimental/creative door open.
We also operated a kiosk, known as the Cube, outside of Hollywood’s CNN Tower for little over a year. Unfortunately it has been bulldozed to provide space for a new large scale restaurant/retail operation. Currently we are opening our first 7-day coffee shop in the previously historic corporate headquarters of the Santa Fe Railroad in Downtown LA. We are beyond excited to serve the downtown community excellent coffee in an imaginative and artistic space.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Located in the Historic Core/Old Bank District of downtown, our new shop is on the ground floor of the Santa Fe Building and across the street from Cole’s/Varnish and Mignon. We are converting a retail space, constructing from the ground up with an empty shell full of possibilities. The artistic concept our art director is drawing upon is the symbolism of “The Magician” tarot card. Joerael is turning the space into somewhat of an installation piece, as if you were to walk into the tarot card itself. The card itself has a lot of positive and mystical symbolism at its core. Some meanings of this tarot card symbolize the bridge between the world of the spirit, humanity, intellect, skill, aptitude, and the four primordial elements of the alchemist. The four elements symbolize the appropriate use of the mind, body, and soul in the process of manifestation. Joerael feels this concept is highly appropriate for the space highlighting the magic of coffee and the magician/alchemist-like approach of all of the farmers, farm workers, washers, buyers, drivers, roasters, baristas, technicians, artisans, and experts in the coffee world. This concept mystically frames the overall skill and work that goes into this fickle fruit and the magic itself, how it brings people together globally, and simply the effect it has on our psyche.
What’s your approach to serving coffee?
We take our coffee seriously, because we want our customers to trust us. Our approach starts with the customer and ends with the customer. The coffee serves as the medium which must be consistent and high quality. We then can focus on hospitality. So many amazing roasters exist out there, and it is then our job to choose the ones our team and customers can appreciate. We try to keep an open mind and do not discriminate about where our coffee comes from or who roasted it, just as long as it is consistently hitting it out of the park. We understand that people’s preferences vary, so we are responsible to steer them in the right direction in getting what they truly want. There’s really no secret, we just care about our customers and what they ingest into their beings. Working with multiple roasters gives us the perspective of being students of coffee. The deeper we go in our learning, the more possibilities we encounter, opening up countless paths in front of us. This approach allows us to keep an open mind, showing our company who we are and assists in the aptitude of defining ourselves as authentically as we can.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
What’s your hopeful target opening month?
Soft opening beginning of July and grand opening by end of July. You’re invited!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Joerael Elliott is responsible for the art direction and installment of the elements such as murals and design touches in the space. Amanda Ryrholm is responsible with the communications and marketing. Small team but super hard-working.
Are you deep in the throes of a sweaty summer build-out? Let us know about it!