In a flurry of recent retail openings up and down California, Blue Bottle Coffee’s newest shop is now open in Los Angeles, on a trendy stretch of Beverly Boulevard between the Grove and the Beverly Center. The new cafe marks a focal point of the company’s Los Angeles expansion, and is their most spacious SoCal cafe yet.
Large though it may be, Blue Bottle Beverly renders a modest appearance from the street. The neighborhood draws a mixed crowd from creative professionals, tourists, shoppers, local residents, and the occasional celebrity. (Gordon Ramsay stopped in for an afternoon espresso as I was checking out the bar.) An unexpected but quintessentially LA billboard with the Blue Bottle insignia is perched high above the art deco building. Signage at street level is non-existent, but neon awnings and outdoor seating will be added in the next few weeks.
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a bustling view of baristas and a steady crowd. Inside, the space is sparse in appearance: the bar is lined with wood cabinets, brewing equipment, and a few dangling light fixtures. Common seating splits off from the bar in a connected room lined with counters, a long communal table, and a few smaller tables and chairs. Maruni supplies the furniture from their Hiroshima collection.
The bar is stocked, high-tech, and busy with baristas in training. The espresso setup features three Mazzer grinders and a single Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine built to order. Digital displays of time and temperature assist the trainees (and the vets) in getting each shot dialed. The pour-over bar features Acaia scales, “the darling of the coffee industry right now,” says Brett Garrett, Director of Southern California Operations. Each scale is USB-rechargeable, with time and weight displays, and
completely waterproof water resistant, according to Acaia. On the far side of the bar, three Baratza Forte BG grinders support the pour-over setup. A few cold brew dispensers on the back counter, a few square feet of waffle irons, and a panini press for sandwiches make for a fully equipped workspace.
Blue Bottle’s recent Tartine acquisition has enabled food offerings previously unavailable in other LA locations. The menu remains relatively simple, though it may expand in the future. For now, toast with various toppings and sandwiches with cheese and ham are about it. The affogato, featuring ice cream from Sweet Rose Creamery, is a menu highpoint. Sweet Rose, located just down the street on Beverly, is well-regarded here in Los Angeles, Experimentation is ongoing and we can likely expect the ice cream of choice to rotate seasonally.
The shop is in the process of training staff both for this location and the forthcoming Echo Park cafe. An interesting note from Garrett is that there will only be three positions at Blue Bottle cafes: Manager, Lead Barista, and Barista. Baristas are trained in all operations from food prep, cleaning, and coffee. “There’s no distinction between front of house and back of house,” says Garrett.
In its first week, the shop offered courses to the local community on brewing methods and discussions with Blue Bottle’s sourcing guru. Currently, no additional courses are being offered, but check back in the coming weeks; the staff hopes for them to become a bi-weekly occurrence. Community Manager Alicia Cho added that special courses are available for local community business.
Despite being in a restaurant dense neighborhood, Blue Bottle will be tapering back from wholesale distribution, said Cho. The company will instead focus on their retail stores, and stocking products like their New Orleans iced coffee in the aisles of your favorite grocer. Up next is Echo Park, opening in the early weeks of August. No hard date is set but stay tuned—teasers include a dedicated tasting/testing room, more food options, and more classes for the community. The company is poised to make a real impact in the Los Angeles coffee community; keep your eyes open for more.
Mackenzie Champlin is a freelance journalist based in southern California. Read more Mackenzie Champlin on Sprudge.