Verve Coffee Roasters marked their territory in the Los Angeles coffee scene (and the global scene) in a big way earlier this year with the opening of their Downtown LA location. Verve’s “curated lifestyle cross-branded cafe experience” launched with meticulous design and an array of local partnerships. Since then, the Santa Cruz based roaster, distributer, coffee heavyweight, and otherwise novel concept introducer has been quietly working on a subsequent Los Angeles storefront.
The newest Verve, set to open September 1st, stands on it’s own between white stuccoed, couture fashion and furniture boutiques in West Hollywood. We were treated to an early peek at the new store and even from first appearances the flourishes, personal touches and bespoke details that define Verve are strongly apparent. Let’s take a look.
Verve WeHo is just about as far down Melrose Boulevard as you can go: just before the Troubador and Santa Monica Boulevard, but past the Abby (surprisingly formerly a coffee shop itself) and the rest of the West Hollywood nightlife. To the East, Melrose is packed with big name restaurants: Mediterranean fresh fare at Lucques from chef Suzanne Goin, Spanish tapas at smoke.oil.salt from chef Perfecto Rocher, and Southern home cooking at The Hart and the Hunter to name a few.
Despite being flush with food, specialty coffee offerings are surprisingly limited. “We came here not because we thought everyone was coming here, it’s because we wanted to do something different,” says co-founder Colby Barr. “It’s actually why we ended up in Santa Cruz, we almost opened in San Francisco and Berkely—but in Santa Cruz, what we wanted to do there wasn’t happening yet. And maybe that’s part of the Verve brand, a little bit of the unexpected.”
From the outside, Verve Melrose catches the attention with its wrap around patio and big airy windows and doors. “We wanted something less formal, with residential sensibilities that makes you say: ‘I want to put this on my patio,’” says Barr.
Planned by Commune Design, the space embodies a bit of the Californian Bohemian vibe. Commune Design's previous projects include the Ace Hotel properties in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and are a recent recipient of the National Design Award for interior design. “We wanted to bring in furniture that wears, to create that worn-in, accessible appearance,” says Brand Manager Vy Le. All furniture is custom made and supplied through Commune including leather-backed chairs, green suede couches and butterfly patio chairs. It’s comfortable and casual. If your apartment doesn’t have a patio, Verve just supplied you new outdoor hangout; well suited for enjoying the sun and airy breeze between palm trees and design studios.
Co-branding, collaborations and partnerships are all balancing acts of coordination Verve deceptively achieves with ease. K&R Ceramics and Bitter Root Pottery workshop provide beautiful ceramics, speckled beige and tan and painted with geometric patterning in muted colors for sale. If you forgot your reading materials, publications Life & Thyme, The Surfer's Journal, and Chef David Kinch’s Manresa: An Edible Reflection cookbook are available. Faircloth & Supply, founded by designer Phoebe Dahl (granddaughter of Roald Dahl), teamed up with Verve to make organic charity tees. The purchase of one helps send a girl in Nepal to school for a year and provides her with three uniforms.
Nearby baker Short Cake supplies seasonal pastries including cakes biscuits and croissants. Belcampo Meat Co. has signed on to provide prepared salads made exclusively for Verve. The vertically integrated meat company (farm, processing plant, butcher and restaurant) strives to provide ‘delicious, organic, and humane meat you can feel good about buying and eating. More elaborate food options are in the works. “You can expect about a half dozen or so toast options in the next few months,” says co-founder Ryan O'Donovan. I previewed a few but swore secrecy until the launch; from what I tasted they’ll be worth the wait.
The Juice Served Here partnership is now well established and the Tres Leches Cappuccino byproduct is a one of a kind offering. Made with only nut milks and coconut, the drink holds a thick body and has a deep earthy flavor.
The opening of Verve Melrose will also celebrate the launch of a “real ripper of a single origin” says Barr. A yellow pacamara, ‘El Limoncillo’, is a mutation of the pacamara isolated and cultivated, “like crystal clear tropical juice,” Barr continued. There’s only eighty pounds in the world and they are all here at Verve WeHo.
A Kees van Der Westen Spirit four-group espresso machine sits atop brass counters, and gives a slight steam punk vibe. For some variance between their LA locations they opted for the “ice cream paint job” on the custom-built, four-group behemoth of a machine. Founders Barr and O'Donovan also prefer the Spirit for its low profile, which enables an open feeling at the bar; you can talk to your barista and see everything that happens. Three Mythos Nuova Simonelli coffee grinders pair with the espresso machine. Perpendicular to the giant van der Wessen, a Modbar installation features three single brew drippers supported by a Mahlkoenig grinder. Nitro cold brew is on tap behind the bar.
With two Los Angeles locations on the ground and more in the works, Verve is stepping up as a quintessentially Californian coffee brand. The Melrose Verve opening is a testament to the saying ‘the devil is in the details’. Anything in the store you touch, taste, or see has been intentionally crafted. And, with a new location opening in a few weeks on 3rd in Mid-City, there’s still more to come.
Mackenzie Champlin is a freelance journalist based in southern California. Read more Mackenzie Champlin on Sprudge.