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California Coffee Shops Worth the Buzz

What’s new in the world of caffeinated brews, from hot pour-overs to concoctions on ice

Words by JESSICA RITZ and BROOKE PORTER KATZ

 

The Golden State’s enterprising speciality java pros keep pushing the scene forward, taking matters into their own hands — roasting their own beans and even branching out into other housemade goods. Not to mention, a growing awareness of community and sustainability merged with boundary-pushing design has made homegrown coffee shops the ultimate social hubs among today’s discerning crowd. Here, we present a few favorite roasters and shops that have California residents buzzing.

 

Common Room Roasters
Orange County’s coffee options got a major upgrade in 2017 when Melbourne natives Jeremy Creighton and Ed Moffatt launched Common Room Roasters in Newport Beach. Soon after, the venture found a receptive audience among L.A. supporters, including restaurants Eataly and Gjusta. Never far from their coastal roots and desire to do good, Creighton and Moffatt just wrapped up a partnership with Hurley to benefit Waves for Water, donating all proceeds to the nonprofit organization that devises clean water programs to communities around the globe. 882 Production Pl., Newport Beach.

 

Go Get Em Tiger
Los Angeles-founded company Go Get Em Tiger continues its downtown expansion in two directions. The sunny Row DTLA outpost (777 Alameda St., Ste. 184, L.A.) envisioned by director of store design Joseph Wedding at the Row DTLA joins the lively community of other forward-thinking food, beverage and retail tenants that have brought new life to the historic repurposed freight depot buildings. Northward, on Bunker Hill, theatergoers and public space dwellers are grateful to have access to GGET’s meticulously crafted drinks from the new pavilion perched at The Music Center Plaza (135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.), fresh off of a recently revealed redesign by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. And last year, co-founders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinksi added coffee roasting and a subscription club from their home base south of DTLA in Vernon, all while keeping up demand for GGET’s beloved staples like fizzy hoppy tea and turmeric almond macadamia tea. We hear a Culver City outpost is coming soon. Multiple locations in Los Angeles.

 

Dogtown Coffee
Seven years after opening in Santa Monica’s iconic Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions building, Dogtown Coffee — inspired by the Z-Boys surfers and skateboarders from the 1970s — has found a second home inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. The new location is a takeaway stand and an ideal spot to pick up a house brew (made with organic micro-roasted beans) and a killer Munchies burrito (filled with eggs, tater tots, bacon and other deliciousness) on your way to the beach. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

 

Verve Coffee Roastery Del Sur
“Our thesis for this place was when people ask, ‘What’s different here?’ I want the answer to be, ‘Everything,’” explains Colby Barr, co-founder of Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee, while strolling across the polished concrete floor of what’s dubbed the Roastery Del Sur (500 Mateo St., L.A.). “But with an asterisk that it’s still Verve,” he adds. For Verve’s fourth spot in Los Angeles, Barr and co-founder Ryan O’Donovan tapped architects Rebecca Rudolph and Catherine Johnson of L.A.-based firm Design, Bitches to create a soaring yet warm cafe-restaurant-roaster in the Arts District that could stylishly facilitate Verve’s evolving ambitions. Chopped winner chef Mario Tolentino helms the kitchen, making dishes such as buckwheat soba salad and other twists on staples, while the formidable roaster is in full view, along with a glassed-in mezzanine cupping bar. Eighteen taps pour flash-brewed coffees and nitrogenated milks that Barr says “stretch the culinary arm into our drink program.” Multiple locations: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Palo Alto.

 

Red Bay Coffee
Sure, the offerings at Red Bay Coffee’s multiple locations throughout the Bay Area are top-notch and don’t compromise on quality. But there’s more. Artist and founder Keba Konte incorporates much-needed representation into the conversation via this African-American-owned business. The Oakland company hires the formerly incarcerated and people with disabilities, putting values of inclusivity at the core of bringing #beautifulcoffeetothepeople. As of this summer, Red Bay Coffee fans can savor their favorite drinks in San Francisco, thanks to a collaboration with the Daily Driver bagel shop and cafe, and at Red Bay’s presence at the Richmond Food Hall adjacent to the BART station. Meanwhile, as its Fruitvale Public Roastery (3098 E. 10th St., Oakland) hums along with a robust calendar of social, cultural and political events, Konte and team have set their sights on another big project: transforming a 1930 art deco-style bank building in Fruitvale into a sprawling and welcoming Red Bay Coffee opening in the coming months. Multiple locations: Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond.

 

Feature image: Coffee drinks by GO GET EM TIGER in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

Sept. 23, 2019

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