There's few things we love more on Sprudge than checking back in with a previously featured cafe. 11 years of publishing gives us more than a few opportunities to update all of you out there in Sprudge Reader land on how coffee companies grow, change, and continue to serve their communities.
Woodcat Coffee in Los Angeles is the work of Sadaat and Janine Awan, longtime coffee industry veterans who live and work in the Echo Park neighborhood. Back in 2014 Woodcat were new on the scene, part of what in retrospect as a major influx of coffee companies helping reimagine Los Angeles as a global hub for coffee culture. 6 years later they've settled into a role as a beloved neighborhood joint with a few new wrinkles: these days they roast their own coffee, and now own and operate a second cafe, Dinosaur Coffee, located about 15 minutes away down Sunset Boulevard in Los Feliz.
We talked to Janine Awan to find out more.
Tell us about Woodcat Coffee.
Woodcat is a little coffee shop that we created in 2014 for our own neighborhood of Echo Park. We wanted to make the best coffee we possibly could and share it with our community. With that intention, we hoped Woodcat would be the neighborhood spot and that’s what it truly has become. Typically, it’s buzzing with artists, musicians, screenwriters, authors—all kinds of creative people—plus other small business owners, young families, and fellow service industry people. All who love coffee are welcome. Having this community hub has really made a huge city like Los Angeles a much smaller and friendlier place, especially for transplants like us.
How have you all been doing here in 2020?
Oh wow, 2020 has been a rollercoaster. In February, Saadat flew to Colombia for his first origin trip and just as he got back, the Covid-cloud started looming. Mid-march we converted our entryway into a plexi-covered walk-up window to keep our customers and staff contact-free and as safe as possible. We are so grateful that we never had to shut down and that our Regulars were still coming for the comfort of coffee and a semblance of normalcy. During those first few months, we were buying our staff lunch every day from our favorite local restaurants to do what we could to support other small businesses like ours.
When June came, our green coffee from that Colombia trip finally made it to us and we officially became roasters. And as of October 1, we gained ownership of one of our favorite coffee shops, Dinosaur Coffee, on Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake—same street as Woodcat.
Tell us about the Woodcat branding! The name, the logo, the artwork.
The branding is simple but whimsical. The name is inspired by a song we love by the same name. (ICYMI: a woodcat is actually a rabbit: a cat of the woods) For the logo, I started with drawing different styles of rabbits with a felt tip brush pen and did some digital tweaking until I created one that felt just right. All of our artwork is within that realm of simplistic nature-inspired whimsy. As for any supporting brand elements and artwork, I am always inspired by plants & animals, Pennsylvania Dutch motifs, and Eastern European folk art.
Who designed the bags?
I did! In my previous life, I was a package designer at a very large toy company and before that, a graphic designer at a hospitality branding firm. Saadat is also a designer and architectural engineer so he gives me lots of helpful feedback.
When I was gathering inspiration for the front label, I was drawn to the design of tarot cards—the placement of information, the hand-drawn style, the framing. Each region has its own color scheme with custom flowers, some patterning, hand-lettering, and framing. And for the back, there is a 1-color hot-stamp using a version of one of my rabbits from an old sticker design. She’s leaping over the rolling hills of our address with an LA coffee cup in hand. Saadat chose a white bag that had a nice tactile feel and looked really sharp. We think they showcase the colorful labels beautifully. We also launched this week a special edition VOTE design which will eventually be our in-house espresso that we’ll be calling Dinocat (after Woodcat & Dinosaur). There’s also a little DC reference on there too as a nod to our former stomping grounds.
Woodcat recently started to roast coffee—where do y'all roast?
We feel really lucky that we’ve connected with Brian Behrend of Roasting Cloud who has helped teach Saadat not only great dad jokes, but also everything about running a roasting business. Saadat is aiming to roast well-balanced, simple, and clean coffee. He and Brian share the same ideas about coffee, and roasting on a Loring S35 makes it easy to achieve that goal.
Where are your coffees currently available?
In-store at both Woodcat Coffee and Dinosaur Coffee. Online is coming soon!
When things open up again, how should we spend the perfect day in Echo Park?
Obviously, start your day off at Woodcat for coffee and a Sugarbloom pastry. After coffee, meet a friend for an easy hike through Elysian Park where you can birdwatch, enjoy views, and pet random friendly dogs. Then grab a post-hike sandwich at Trencher or some tacos at Guisados. If you love cute stationery like I do, go treat yourself to something fun at tchotchke shop, Shout and About, or pop over to Stories for that book you’ve been meaning to buy. End your perfect day with cocktails and dinner at Ostrich Farm right across the street from Woodcat.
Photos courtesy Woodcat Coffee.