With their buildout complete, a green hand in the shape of the “Westside” hand now guards the door to Downtown Los Angeles cafe Elabrew, the words “tea” and “coffee” teetering on top of an arrow beckoning guests within. At first glance inside, the space looks like an urban art gallery full of hands and snakes like this mural—but once in the cafe, the level of thought that's gone into every detail is clear.
Artist Joerael Elliott was on hand to give some insight into his process for creating the Elabrew environment. The shop's entire look was developed as an installation based on the Magician tarot card. On the wall a Roman numeral one represents the Magician, first card in the deck. Above the Magician’s head is an infinity symbol and he is holding up a double-edged wand to the sky. Over the espresso bar floats a giant hand with a candle burning at both ends. Across from the espresso machine a large green hand points down to depict the connection of the spiritual realm to the ground.
The tarot card theme continues throughout the space. Snakes are painted on the walls, representing infinity, along with red lotus flowers and details for the alchemist symbols of wind, fire, earth, and a cup…which is represented by…well the coffee of course. The menu is similar to their Santa Monica coffee bar, with the addition of some new specialty drinks at this new location. Currently they are making coffees roasted by Ritual, Kuma, and Ceremony on a La Marzocco GB/5. Elliott spent six months constructing the space and painting the murals getting the shop ready to open on National Coffee Day, this past Monday.
Elabrew CEO Joy Park found the Sixth Street space one day when she was downtown for a meeting and saw a For Lease sign across the street from Cole’s and The Varnish. She had been hoping to find a historic downtown location in the architectural preservation zone. Now Elabrew fuses its historic exterior with a graphic and bold urban street art interior. Park's vision for Elabrew's downtown location was to be an escape. She asked Elliott to let loose and see what happened. A downstairs section of the cafe, with custom furniture built by Elliott, is still being completed.
From their roots rolling around Santa Monica in a psychedelic-painted coffee truck (also designed by Elliott) to this new downtown location, Elabrew have once again combined passions for coffee and art, providing an inspiring setting to meet friends and share a cup.
Julie Wolfson is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Julie Wolfson on Sprudge.