Kindness and Mischief—K&M for short—is the newest cafe to hit the booming Highland Park scene. In a sea of coffee shops, K&M stands out even before you step inside. With its vibrant turquoise front above a bright red door and a classic 1920s facade left by a jewelry shop, this “people-driven, quality obsessed, and community-centered” cafe is doing something different to stand out in cafe-saturated Los Angeles.
A focus on the community is important for a new business in the neighborhood; Highland Park has been undergoing drastic changes, so it’s important for a space to cater to both longstanding residents and new arrivals. Diverse and culturally rich, the local business makeup also reflects its residents. K&M owner Monique “Mo” Maravilla comes from a Filipino background; her family moved to the area when she was just 3 years old. “I always loved the warmth and small-town feel of Northeast LA, and the green hills,” she says. “I had very specific intentions for the shop—I wanted a very community-centered space, one where I could hold music and art shows as well as other events to serve the area. I also knew I wanted to be in a dynamic neighborhood, not in an area that felt already set in its ways and culture.”
Along those lines, Maravilla’s mission is “reaching out and [making] a positive contribution to the community,” a sentiment K&M backed up on its first day open, donating the entire day’s proceeds to the nearby Monte Vista Elementary School. “We sent some kids to outdoor science school!” Maravilla says, excitedly. “We’re also going to hold art and music shows, charity fundraisers, screenings, and other community gatherings.” And in turn, the neighborhood has supported K&M since even before Maravilla opened its doors.
After Kindness and Mischief lost an early investor, the undeterred Maravilla set up a Kickstarter and, with generous community help, was able to raise enough money in just one month to open shop. “We knew the community was super supportive, but we had no idea how much of an overwhelming response we were going to get,” she says. “The sheer love and sincere help people gave us was amazing. It took a month of planning, and even then it felt like we weren’t prepared. That was one of the hardest months of my life since my emotions became tied to the amount of money we raised that day—and asking people for money is never easy.”
The campaign was a wild success, raising over $30,000 in 30 days. A one-month home run of a Kickstarter campaign is rare, but visit Kindness and Mischief and you can see why it garnered such support. With records playing, an inviting color scheme, cheery baristas, and even a Mischief Library—where people “leave a book, take a book”—the café’s mellow vibe makes the place feel open and accessible to everyone. “The Mischief Library is something super-fun that my architect and I put into the storefront plans from the very beginning,” says Mo. “We loved the idea of sharing and passing things on to strangers.” Another feature that adds to the cafe’s welcoming vibe: “Ribbon of Light,” a mural of a painted rainbow ribbon by Dominique Ovalle.
Coffee here hails from a variety of roasters, most of which are local, all carefully crafted on a La Marzocco GB5 or served drip from a Fetco 2132, and ground on Mahlkönig grinders. “I love the idea of being a platform for that roaster that people may or may not have heard of yet, while also showcasing my hometown,” says Maravilla. Most recently the cafe has featured Rose Park Roasters from Long Beach, Compelling and Rich, and newcomer Take Flight Coffee, the new roasting company from Deaton Pigot, formerly of Toby’s Brooklyn. Kindness and Mischief also serves tea from LA local Art of Tea, which Maravilla details as “six hot teas plus one iced tea, while also experimenting with kegging and tapping teas—right now we have a fizzy liquid Jade on tap.”
A specialized food program is also in the works. K&M have partnered with Kristine de la Cruz from Crème Caramel LA—which is soon to add a second location, called FrankieLucy Bakeshop, in Silver Lake—to create and pick some Filipino-inspired treats, inspired by Maravilla & de la Cruz’s shared background. Among the creative pastries to come are a tart calamansi mascarpone puff pie, ensaymada scones, and ube sweets. Vegan and gluten-free treats are available too, like the vegan buko (coconut) pandan chia-seed pudding. A selection of dairy-free milks are offered at no extra cost.
Standard espresso drinks will, of course, be available year-round, but a selection of seasonal specialty drinks should also help differentiate K&M. This summer they’re offering a Cinnamon Cold Brew Float: cold brew with a touch of almond milk, paired with a scoop of house-made cinnamon ice cream. Tea is also subject to some Kindness & Mischief, like the Earl Grey Lavender Latte—a house-made Earl Grey lavender syrup turned into a latte and garnished with dried lavender buds.
In the future, Maravilla plans to keep things fresh with food pop-ups, while continuing to seek out new roasters, and maybe even start a roastery herself. Her creation is a product of the community it serves—we’re looking forward to watch K&M as it grows.
Tatiana Ernst is a Sprudge staff writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Tatiana Ernst on Sprudge.