There have been coffee shops combined with bakeries and bars, of course, and even with bike-repair shops and salons. But Two Kids Coffee, one of LA’s newest cafes, takes a more overtly creative tack: to get to it you have to walk through art gallery SPACE and its paintings and multimedia works.
Patrons can walk among the art with their drinks or linger in the back, where there are a few seats along the bar beside a wall half-filled by a smooth, blue bird-filled wallpaper (it pops, but isn’t too distracting). The star attraction—besides the stellar coffee—is the mural painted by Peter Vu, a friend of the owners, that takes up the other half of the wall space, a mesmerizing construction with circular swirls in shades of black and blue depicting little creatures in a sea of coffee cups.
The two kids behind Two Kids, Ryan Ramirez and Danah Mangahis, are a couple of architects who wanted to open their own cafe after falling in love with coffee culture. Given their background, it’s no surprise the design and final product were very carefully thought out and planned (all of which was helped along by a successful Kickstarter campaign). He adds that the space is meant to “reflect our intuitive love for design that we can share with anyone and everyone.”
Having a coffee shop behind an art gallery is a good way to do this. The collaborative merging of two businesses is something that Ramirez and Mangahis decided they wanted to explore because of their regular travels to New York City. “The whole two-in-one model is super common out there, because not only does it help amazing startup businesses get on their feet, it promotes [the] sharing and exchanging of ideas that can invigorate a productive and creative culture.”
Two Kids’ coffee bar is set up with a La Marzocco Linea Classic for espresso drinks, plus Mazzer Kony and Mahlkönig EK 43 grinders, while the pour-overs are made with a Kalita Wave dripper. All of Two Kids’ coffee comes from Gotham Coffee Roasters of Brooklyn; among the basic espresso variations and a mocha, the Kids also serve a dirty chai (espresso, milk, and chai) that cuts through the hot Pasadena days. Two Kids’ South Pasadena neighborhood’s small-town vibe goes well with the gallery/cafe atmosphere. “We’ve always deeply loved the charm and character of the small towns in the San Gabriel Valley—South Pasadena, Monrovia, Montrose, Sierra Madre in particular,” says Ramirez. “These places reconnect us to childhood upbringings, which are very much rooted in family,” he says. That feeling of home, something that people could connect to on a personal level, is what Ramirez and Mangahis hope to create.
Coming soon will be the addition of pastries (made by a friend’s mom), but beyond that, the two kids just want to keep immersing themselves in the world of coffee. “We’ve always valued the simple idea that coffee touches people, whether they are aware of it or not, in so many ways—so many amazing ideas come through in coffee shops.”