Back in July, we suggested – cautiously, so as to not irk anyone – that one ” could argue that Los Angeles is the most exciting specialty coffee city in the world right now.” That’s a bold claim, and probably sounds like we’ve got some West Coast US bias, but the evidence keeps mounting as more and more new specialty coffee destinations pop up in the Southlands. Let’s put it like this: 4 years ago we could have never imagined having a staff writer for LA, but now we consider the City of Angels to be one of our most important sources for regular new content.

To the growing list of established coffee destinations in LA, you’ll soon be able to add a new roaster / retailer project called Bar Nine Collective. Located in the Culver City neighborhood (already home to the highly excellent Cognoscenti Coffee), Bar Nine’s build-out is focused towards direct interaction between customers and baristas, sustainable energy practices, and community building. In a town flush with exciting new coffee projects, this new roaster sounds like a perfect encapsulation of the LA coffee scene in 2013, which is to say, forward-thinking and world class.

As told to by Zayde Naquib.


Can you tell us a bit about your new space?

We have a 3400 square foot warehouse space that we are converting into a specialty coffee wonderland. We want to break down as many barriers possible that normally exist in a cafe setting. Our roasting operation is on the cafe floor. The expansive bar we’ve built is low-profile and, save grinders, features pretty much all under-counter components with taps above counter, from espresso to steam to drip coffee to water boilers and sparkling water. We want to bring the customer into our process and show them why we’re so excited about our product. Given our large square footage, plus an outdoor patio space we have in front, we want to create an environment where community can thrive. This is reflected in our seating we’ve laid out, from a large community table to several standing and sitting bars which focus on bringing everyone together.

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In addition, we want to partner with like-minded specialty businesses to have a presence in the space. These include pop-up restaurants and markets, to some allied retail presence. This is where the “Collective” part of our name comes from, we want to create a space where new and exciting business that also complements the coffee bar can thrive.


The other thing that is a major focus for us is sustainable practices. We have limited the use of paper products to a bare minimum, and will feature glass as a primary take-away method (one paper size is available as an option, however). Part of the electricity we receive is from solar energy, and as the business accrues revenue we’ll expand the amount of solar we’re using. All of our retail coffee will be sold in compostable packaging, and we will use our excess coffee for composting as well.


What’s your approach to serving coffee?

The key words that come to mind are precision, efficiency, and service. We want to brew technically perfect extractions every time out. I truly think that aiming for perfection and the difficulties that entails isn’t costly business, but is the cost of doing business. The bar was designed to be as ergonomically-sound as we could, so the baristas can focus on customers and the details of extraction. An inefficient workflow can kill rhythm, which leads to a distracted employee that cannot provide optimal service to a guest. Customer experience has to be the top priority at all times, it can make or break you, even with top-notch quality.


Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

We’re really excited to be one of the first cafes in the US (and the first in LA) to feature the Modbar system, which we will use for espresso/steam and drip coffee. For tea and other hot water needs, we’re using the Marco under-counter water boiler. For grinders, we’re rolling with the Malhkonig EK43 for both espresso (single-dosing) and drip preparation. We also have a La Marzocco Linea and a Mahlkonig K30 Vario for lab purposes. For roasting, we have one of the new Probatone P12s, which features cast iron back into the design and is able to roast and cool at the same time.


What’s your hopeful target opening month? And what’s your address?

Late September to early October, and we’re located at 3515 Helms Ave, in Culver City, CA.

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