The latest addition to the Los Angeles cadre of Blue Bottle stores arrives on a stretch of sunny Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The area is dotted with underground music venues, independent record labels, used bookstores, and every type of vintage retail offering imaginable; it’s hip. A day before the official launch, their soft opening rolled smoothly along with experienced baristas doling out drinks and snacks like a well-oiled machine. At this point, Blue Bottle is getting pretty good at openings—they've opened a half-dozen cafes in the last year alone. I stopped by the new location to see what the Blue Bottle Echo Park had in store for LA.
In the words of manager Ty McNulty, the Echo Park cafe is “all the same parts [as our Beverly location] just totally different.”
Starting with the design, Wade Design Architects and Crome Architecture return with an interior pursuant to the Blue Bottle image: lightly stained wood counters, bright natural light, and sleek furniture. This time around, the bar is the centerpiece, arranged as an island with seating along the entire perimeter. There’s room for about 30 people and the furniture is again from Maruni, same as their Beverly location. Pendant lights from Luke Lamp Company hang above a brick wall. The exposed brick hints at the age of the building: the Jensen’s Recreation Center is a historic landmark in Echo Park built in 1924. It’s a suitable home for the shop and mirrors the neighborhood’s charm of old-meets-new.
The staff has been training since the opening of the Beverly store and the switch is seamless as the hardware is nearly identical. The preference is Mazzer grinders for espresso, Baratza Forte BG grinders for the pour-over. The Kees Van Der Westen Spirit espresso machine has been upsized in this location to a three-group. Square handles the payments. Looking for something unexpected? A pair of vintage Braun speakers designed by Dieter Rams is shrewdly placed on the display shelves. It looks like someone on the Blue Bottle team doubles as an audiophile.
If you think the opening reveals everything Blue Bottle has to offer Los Angeles, don’t fret, as they’ve left a few anticipated items for the future. Echo Park is now the second location in LA with food (the menu remains the same as Beverly), however, an expanded menu is still in the works. I understand that company chef Chad Robertson, formerly of Tartine, is toiling away on forthcoming menu items, but there will be no spoilers until they’re finalized. Blue Bottle is expanding their classes but they won’t be hosting them here in Echo Park just yet. Look for education options at Abbot Kinney or Beverly for now.
As Blue Bottle spreads across the neighborhoods of Los Angeles—the Arts District, Beverly Boulevard, and now here—the Echo Park location takes roots in a cultural hotspot, undeniably one of the city's coolest neighborhoods. Whether you’re heading to a show, looking for vintage shopping (eyewear, motorcycles, etc) or simply a hip local excited for some new coffee retail, you should go check out this shop. You’ll get the same Blue Bottle experience, just totally different.
Mackenzie Champlin is a freelance journalist based in southern California. Read more Mackenzie Champlin on Sprudge.