Native Angelenos, visitors to the Southlands, and people living in Orange County who haven't driven in yet: Get thee to G&B at SQRL post-haste, because soon the G&B part of this lauded Virgil Village pop-up will be moving on. Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski are opening a new, permanent home for their multiroaster cafe concept at the corner of Larchmont and Beverly, home to a former Baskin & Robbins outpost.
This is happening very, very soon, so if you want a Babinski espresso paired with some fancy SQIRL toast, you need to go right now. With so many big things happening on the horizon – a new cafe! the USBC afoot! the Clippers as a 4 seed! – we sat down with Charles Babinski, the “B” in G&B, to play a nice game of 5 questions.
First and foremost, you and Kyle Glanville have a pretty darn talented team in place at G&B 1 – we've met these folks and seen them compete at the Southwest Regionals. Will they be making the transition with you to the new G&B location? And will you be hiring additional staff?
Charles Babinski: Yes! Our crew is amazing. Sumi Ali, our first employee, is a beast (in the sense that he makes amazing coffee, has great customer service skills and is incredibly hardworking and reliable). Percy Ramirez is a legend. Sasha Puchalla, who helps out two days a week, has been indispensable. The G&B pop up at Sqirl is not the sort of job where you can just put your head down and grind through the day. It is always being active and attentive, holding conversations and taking orders while your hands organize a queue of drinks. Managing all that through the chaotic crush of Angelenos calling for their toast and coffee is a tall task, but Sumi, Percy and Sasha make it look easy. When our brick and mortar opens up, they will come over but we will also need to hire a good amount of new staff.
At G&B2, will the menu change? Are you going to keep the multi-roaster model? Tell us more about the ice cream developments. Have you, personally, Charles Babinski, been playing with ice cream?
The coffee menu at the Larchmont shop will be constantly changing to reflect what we think are the best coffees out there. Right now, there are more great coffees out there than we can buy, but the added volume of Larchmont will mean that we can offer more. Right now we are loving many of the coffees from 49th Parallel, Heart and Ritual. We want to carry this same sentiment over to tea and chocolate as well. Work with folks that are doing amazing things. Share a menu that represents only carefully considered, delicious things. Ice cream fits into all this on account of its extreme tastiness and harmonious possibilities with coffee. Shakes and affogatos are something to be embraced and we shall embrace accordingly.
What's the new neighborhood like? What else should we do around there when we come visit?
Larchmont is a neighborhood that's kinda right in the middle of LA. South of Hollywood and west of Koreatown, it definitely has its own vibe. Paramount is nearby, there is lots of really nice residential and the strip on Larchmont is very much the commercial center. Small shops, bakeries and yoga studios. No great coffee, though! Soon!
As far as things to do nearby, Koreatown is another world. Spend the afternoon at Wi Spa, enjoy the amazing Korean food. Hollywood is, as ever, Hollywood. So it is worth enjoying all the weirdness that entails. A trip to LA stuck in the hippest reaches of Silver Lake or Echo Park is, to some degree, a missed opportunity. Larchmont is right in the middle of an area of LA most coffee tourists don't hit.
Babinski in Boston at the United States Barista Championship – fact or fiction?
Fact! I will be in Boston competing in the Barista, Brewer's and Cup Taster's competitions. That isn't going to leave me a whole lot of time but my feeling is, if I am going to be in a big convention center for a weekend, I better keep myself busy.
What are you reading right now?
Too much to do! I keep picking up some weighyt tome with the loftiest intentions, only to have my attention span bested after a few pages. When I do decide to hunker down, I've got Thomas Mann's Joseph and his Brothers coming highly recommended and collecting a heavy layer of dust.
G&B currently located at 720 North Virgil Ave, Virgil Village, Los Angeles.