In a sun-splotched alleyway off Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California, sits Another Kind of Sunrise. Nestled in a 6-foot by 4-foot booth blocks from the beach, it serves up grass-fed ghee and coconut oil coffee (“buttery brew”) alongside eggy bacon-and-leek muffins, house-made nut milks, and coconut yogurt açai bowls. The clientele is mostly local, usually sundress-clad, and beach bound.
I stopped by on a warm Saturday morning to chat with chef and owner Lela Buttery (yes, that’s her real name, of Guyanese and Portuguese origin), over a buttery mocha. Owning a seaside coffee shop is what cubicle dwellers dream of; I asked her to pull back the curtain on what it looks like day to day.
What’s a typical day for you?
On baking days, which happen three to four times a week, I wake up at 4:30 in the morning. It’s zombie mode. I get dressed in the dark. My husband is an LA County firefighter and he works in 24-hour shifts, so [when] he’s not there, I need to feed and walk my dog.
Once I get to our commercial kitchen, I start making our muffins and brewing coffee. I’ll make myself a protein shake there with Mattole Valley Naturals goat-based protein powder, which we use at AKOS. It’s closer [in composition] to our digestive system so it’s easier on our bodies. I’ll make a shake with that, add some water, maybe a little of cold brew, and maybe I’ll put some fruit in there if we have it. I love the crunchy texture of adding coffee beans, too. I’m kind of a kitchen sink cook, so whatever’s there, I’ll just throw it in.
AKOS opens at 7am, so I usually get here at 6:55am and bring in the fresh goods. Once I’m here, I’ll sit down and have a cup of coffee, and maybe a muffin or a granola bowl. I’ll go through inventory, checking what we need for the day and running to the bank or Whole Foods if we’re out of something small like creamer.
I usually go home around 9am and walk my dog. I’ll sit down and make myself an actual breakfast that typically consists of a couple eggs, an avocado, and spinach. Kind of a scramble, nothing crazy. The other morning I had boiled eggs and lentils.
After breakfast I usually have a cup of tea or just hot water and lemon, something nice, and start to get my work done. Certain days of the week I have to meet with my bookkeeper. I’ll spend time answering emails, attending to repairs, things like that—it’s my logistical work.
Then, in the afternoon, I do my other jobs! There’s not a lot of profit at AKOS yet, and when there is, you can’t touch it, because there’s always going to be something that needs attention—like a Vitamix blender that breaks, or something like that.
So I still private chef in the afternoon, which I love. I do that about two days a week and I have a couple different clients. I also teach diving two weekends out of the month, and I’ll take people over to Catalina Island with Scuba Haus. I love teaching. I also teach a couple of science classes at local schools.
I have a lot of odd jobs—it’s just about being a jack of all trades.
Wow, you’re busy. How do you find your peace?
Some people meditate, some people do yoga. Me, I go to the water. As soon as my body slips into the water, it’s relaxing. I just start swimming, I don’t get out of breath, it’s very meditative. My sign is a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign—I’m intense. The water is very womb-like for me; it cools me down and centers me.
My husband and I also go out on a date once a week—no cell phones allowed. It’s really about enjoying each other, which is so important for centering.
What does the next year hold for you?
I’m a dreamer. I have a lot of ideas. I think if I had to pigeonhole myself, I couldn’t. I’m very much an explorer and entrepreneur.
I love talking to people, I love baking. I’d love to write more. I’d like to do a children’s cookbook some day. On a personal level, I turned 35 this year, and [my husband and I] are hoping to start a family. I’m trying to figure out how to do that right now because I’m doing a lot. So I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Who knows what our future holds; but I’m always amazed looking back in retrospect at what I’ve accomplished.
Gowri Chandra is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written previously for Vice, Thrillist, and Shermans Travel. This is Gowri Chandra's first feature for Sprudge.