another kind of sunshine lela buttery interview abbot kinney venice los angeles cafe coffee sprudge

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.

another kind of sunshine lela buttery interview abbot kinney venice los angeles cafe coffee sprudge

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.

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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.

another kind of sunshine lela buttery interview abbot kinney venice los angeles cafe coffee sprudge

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.

another kind of sunshine lela buttery interview abbot kinney venice los angeles cafe coffee sprudge

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.

Another Kind of Sunrise is located at 1629 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Los Angeles. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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. 

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