After a long 3 months of slaving under uncomfortable fluorescents, having every flaw of this man’s appearance exposed… Intelligentsia in Silverlake is now the kind of cafe you could spend some time inside. The glowing beams of our opening are a fading memory, as warm bulbs of elegance and decadence now grace the space between our heads and the ceiling. The warmth of our wooden walls glows in such an inviting manner that even your grandmother would love to drop by for a chat and some coffee. Have we achieved all we set out for? No, not by any means, but it does bring us closer the ultimate goal of being the best place we can be. Make sure to check out the flickr bar for some pictures of the transformation…
It’s been a long week. Much craziness has been occurring at the coffee bar and in life as well. I have not been to origin, but I feel as though I got a little bit closer this past week. Two nights ago, we had a grand celebration to honor the farmers that are part of our Tres Santos Project. For those who may not know about this, I’ll elaborate. When the harvest is finished in Colombia, the farmers lots are all kept separate, and each is cupped. This is a very long and elaborate process that Geoff Watts, Sarah Kluth, and others in our Q.C. Department all go through. The aim in the Tres Santos Project is to find our ‘three saints.’ Or, three micro-lots that stand above the others, cupping, at least, a 92 points consistently. This year, the three saints are amazing. Saturday I had the pleasure of cupping them all side-by-side. It was delicious. Such sweet, round, coffees. Brown sugar, orange candy, sweet melon, and so much more!
To celebrate, two of the three farmers of these micro-lots we brought up to Los Angeles. K.C. O’Keefe and Geoff were in town to take them around, see some sites, eat some great meals, and to let them experience Los Angeles as much as possible. They even had the opportunity to cup their own coffee for the first time. Oh, and in full Intelli.la style, we threw a barbecue for them.
I had just finished up my bar shift at 8:00 on Saturday night. Devin was manning the machine and several kids walked in. I was hearing whisperings and then the question, “Wait, so your dad owns what farm?” Two of the four, were the son and daughter of one of our farmers in Guatemala. They apparently were up in Los Angeles visiting their cousins and had heard about the cafe. So, they dropped by. Of course, we gave them a bag of their coffee and many pictures were taken of all of us… posing with the coffee. This all happened right before I was about to head to the barbecue, so we brought the kids along. Suddenly, I’m in the middle of a room with Geoff, KC, Glanville, Deaton from Oz, two very honorable Colombian farmers, the children of one of our Guatemalan farmers, and the world begins to seem like a much smaller place.
Monday was the party of the farmers. I was lucky enough not to have to work at this one. I was stuck behind the counter during the Esmeralda event and it’s really not when you want to be working. It was nice to just take in the coffee, listen to the farmers, and drink some delicious wine. All in all, a great week with amazing coffee…
Congratulations to Andrew Kopplin & Friends at Kopplin’s Coffee! This week marks a full year of running full-out dual Clover-only action! That’s a full year of brewing by the cup, focusing on single origin, and allowing customers to have a very personal experience…
This also means that Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea is a few weeks past a year of being the first cafe to have two Clovers on one bar… Epic.
Things are evolving people and the industry is growing!
Last week, Thursday, I happened to glance at our schedule at the bar and noticed I had both Sunday and Monday off, in a row… surely this was a mistake. Anyway, crazy thoughts entered my head… and for some reason I decided to verbalize them to my lady friend, Monica. She must have been crazy at the time too because we both decided it would be a good idea to make the 6 hour trip to San Francisco and get away… for about 48 hours. I had never been to San Fran and I really had been meaning to for awhile (just as apparently, Baca, Drew, R. Brown, & Co. have been ‘meaning to come to LA’ for awhile). Beyond good coffee at Ritual, I really didn’t know what to expect. So, I went with a very open mind and an aim to relax and see something new.
I closed the coffee bar on Saturday night and got to bed around 1:00 AM. This made waking up at 5:30, as originally intended, very difficult. Anyway, bottom line, we hit the road later than expected and were on our way by 7:45. We made great time and ended up in the city around 1. Putting first things first, we headed to Ritual. Pictures, the coffee, and even the people couldn’t really fully prepare me for the experience. It’s kind of beautiful the way the community feels inside the coffee bar. Very warm. This was probably amplified by the over-cast skies… but having spent most of November in Los Angeles, this was a welcomed change.
As was most of San Francisco. I, by no means, can call myself someone who has an understanding of the city, but it felt reminiscent of Seattle. Yet, it held the quirkiness of Los Angeles… To me, the perfect blend. It’s the kind of place I can appreciate and could really fall for.
The coffee I had while there was pretty damn good too. The whole experience kicked off with a S.O. CoE Colombia that these cats were pulling on the GB5. Bright, cheery, and sweet are words that come to mind. It reminded me of some of the styles of espresso Kopplin used to play with. Very un-PNW… That was followed by a ‘Red Flag espresso’ italiano. Which, made me smile.
On Monday, Baca took us around to the Blue Bottle stand on Haight and to the Ritual spot in the gardens. Both we great. Blue Bottle was rad. The perfect kiosk if you ask me… It was cool to have a gibralter from the coffee roaster who invented it. I had a single of Red Flag at Ritual. The bar experience there seems so personal, it’s kinda wonderful. Keith, our barista, really seemed to take pride in his ‘lone-ranger’ bar style. I would too. It was cool to see a spot, fully equipped, with one guy… acting as host and server. Making him a real barista… not the station workers some of us come to be. This is something many have fantasized about… barista’s that can function and handle their own like a bar tender. I’m in love with the fantasy of it, and hope someday I can be in a place that functions like that and is successful from a numbers standpoint. In the mean time, I’ll have to settle for watching Keith live it up…
All in all, the trip was quick, but it was a great break from Los Angeles, Intelli.la, and life in Silverlake. Resetting is important and I’m glad it happened. Tomorrow, Devin, Tonx, and I are planning on cupping some stuff at the Intelli Works. I have three coffees that the Ritual kids sent me off with and Tony has a box he just received from Andrew Barnette and Ecco. Maybe I’ll post some of the highlights.