Bodega Wine Bar has been a part of Santa Monica’s fabric since 2006. Originally a bar focusing on wine and beer, Bodega is a favorite happy hour spot for locals looking to get a drink and wind down after work. As of January of this year, the owners, Jason McEntee and Greg Seares, decided to expand the bar to house a full coffee program, thus turning Bodega into a cafe in the daytime.
Over the years, Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach, an area home to over 500 tech companies, has rapidly grown and transformed the beach-side city into an industrial hub. In response, businesses catering to tech companies have given Santa Monica a revival of sorts.
“When Bodega opened back in 2006, the neighborhood was fairly quiet,” Seares says. “There were a few retail businesses, a vacant lot, a car repair shop and a lot of apartments. In the past five years, Silicon Beach has become a thing, so the development of new living, retail, and office spaces has vastly increased the neighborhood foot traffic.”
McEntee and Seares decided that since they already had a space, they’d utilize it to offer good coffee in the area where there previously was none within walking distance. They looked to Canaan Vallejos to oversee the coffee program. Vallejos started his career in coffee 11 years ago in Colorado. After upping his barista skills, he landed a gig at Sightglass in San Francisco—as production supervisor where he worked closely with the roasters and green coffee buyer. From there, he transitioned into roasting with Andytown Coffee Roasters. Now, he is leading Bodega’s coffee undertaking.
Although the coffee came later at Bodega, it’s by no means secondary. Vallejos has really put his passion and coffee experience into the program. Starting with the water, the equipment at Bodega has been carefully selected. The water is filtered with Everpure’s MRS-600HE-II Reverse Osmosis System, giving the baristas full control of the water environment. The beans are ground on Mahlkönig‘s Guatemala 710 and Nuova Simonelli’s Mythos One Clima Pro grinders. For their drink of choice, visitors can opt for drip from a Fetco 2132 XTS Twin 3L brewer or espresso from La Marzocco’s 2-group Linea PB. There’s also nitro cold brew from Verve on tap, perfect for cooling down in the heat. The coffee will of course draw the crowds, but the sleek interior of the cafe is also inviting and novel.
The elements of the bar are elegantly lit by the LA sunshine coming in through the windows. Natural light in the space highlights the interior design with exposed brick, teak wood craftsmanship, and leather and wicker furniture. The seating area is furnished with long tables and stools—perfect for those looking for a place to work, along with couches paired with coffee tables. Coffee can be enjoyed until 5:00pm, but wine and beer are available all day long.
“It’s an exciting time in third wave specialty coffee, so though we launched with Verve Coffee Roasters, our long-term goal is to share wonderful coffee with people by featuring new and existing talent with rotating roasters,” Seares says, adding that Bodega also serves Sightglass and Kilogram Tea. They also offer pastries like classic croissants and monkey bread from nearby Larder Baking Co.
The cafe at Bodega has only been open for about half a year, but they’ve already gained a sizable following. It’s no surprise, since the nearby tech workers need their daily pick me up, after all. Soon, they may even be able to get their lunch there—Bodega has a cafe food menu in the works. Brunch in LA, anyone?