It's been something of an open secret in the Los Angeles coffee scene, but today we can confirm that Tyler Wells, 1/3rd of the original founding team at Handsome Coffee Roasters, has departed from the project. This is old news for people that know Wells well; December 16th, 2013 was his last day with Handsome, but no formal announcement has been issued by the company, and Wells is still listed on Handsome's “Why” page. So is Chris Owens, for that matter, who also departed Handsome in late 2013 to pursue a new project called HiLux Coffee, part of the Akron / Family Lightning Records crew.
After his exit from Handsome Coffee Roasters, Wells could often be seen cycling through the Arts District of Los Angeles. Clocking many hours on his bike and some time cooking for events like the preview dinner for Parachute Market, I couldn't help but wonder what Wells was planning next. Now we know. Wells is busy coordinating all of the details to open a new coffee bar, located in the Arts District on 3rd Street, home to noted lifestyle store and gallery Poketo, the socially responsible design house Apolis, and the newly opened gallery, event space, and retail concept Alchemy Works.
Wells finds himself in the middle of a new build-out, this one much smaller than then epic Handsome roastery, but significant in other elements. Wells' new “as yet unnamed“ project fills a 250-square-foot space next to Alchemy Works. Part of construction includes cutting through a doorway into Alchemy Works to connect Wells’ café to the ultra-cool design shop, featuring a Warby Parker retail selection in-store and collaborative shared office space for designers and artists in the back.
The design of the coffee bar will feature black, aqua, wood, and marble. Chris Bilheimer, known for his many album art projects, is doing the brand design. The space is being designed by Kellie Patry along with Wells.
“It’s what I do…good coffee and friendly service,” Tyler Wells tells me. “A couple small bites and a lot of really lovely outdoor space. We are going to sell flowers and have a little farm stand.” Coffee will be roasted by Sightglass, and prepared on a La Marzocco Linea PB. As for other gear, Wells tells me, “I am giving the Mazzer Kony grinder a day in court, and we'll have a Nimbus Reverse Osmosis system for water.” Coffee and espresso drinks will be served in pale aqua Heath Ceramics cups.
Why Sightglass? “I just like them,” smiles Wells. “It’s tasty coffee and good people.” When asked how the menu will be designed, Wells had a twinkle in his eye. “I’ll be serving Black, White, Chocolate and Chai. Chai lattes, they are delicious. And brewed tea. Maybe a few bottled drinks. I like the bubbly. I’ll do food, too… some grab-and-go open faced sandwiches, maybe some fruit and granola. The whole thing is going to be really simple. ”
Wells' partners in the venture are Joseph Pitruzzelli and Tyler Wilson, owners of the nearby Wurstküche beer hall. “This project has been through a number of iterations,” said Wells. “Tyler and Joe had this space in their commissary building, and together we're making a genuine little neighborhood spot. It was just kind of a natural fit.”
The idea of cutting through the new coffee bar into the spacious Alchemy Works space appeals to Wells. “We want to turn this building into a collective,” he tells me, with a coffee bar as part of its core. “The idea for this little coffee bar is that it will just sort of help to extend the neighborhood and tie it together.” Expect this new cafe to open sometime in April 2014.