Above and next to a shelf stacked with records at Culver City’s Bar Nine Collective are a few framed posters mounted on the wall, one of which has bold handwriting across the top. The words read:
“Zayde, Thanks for your dedication to truly great coffee! It helped fulfill our vision.” - Mike D.
Zayde Naquib is one of the co-owners and visionaries behind Bar Nine Collective, and the event those posters were referring to was a 17 day multimedia installation hosted at the Geffen Contemporary/MOCA curated by Mike D. of the Beastie Boys. For those 17 days back in 2012, Zayde was preparing coffee alongside musicians, visual artists, and chefs. This curated experience is partly responsible for inspiring the notion of Bar Nine Collective into existence, and encouraging Zayde to work toward creating something wholly new and different.
Zayde met his business partner and Bar Nine co-owner, Jereme Pitts a few years ago somewhat serendipitously. Jereme was building a house next to Zayde in Hermosa. They first bonded over wine and then connected over good coffee. Jereme asked Zayde if he was interested in opening something. It so happened that, Zayde, a barista at the time, had spent the past 6 months developing a business plan. The rest is history.
Earlier this week I sat down with Zayde to talk about his experience leading up to this moment. Tonight is Bar Nine’s official opening party after a near 10 month delay and struggle with red tape. The kicker is, they might not actually be able to open just yet, another obstacle was recently thrown in Bar Nine’s wake that could push back their ability to officially open doors for another couple of days. Frustrating to say the least, but Zayde puts the stress of dealing with their roadblocks into perspective, “it’s not like we’re trying to solve the Cuban Missile Crisis.” In the meantime, Bar Nine has been serving morning coffee to neighborhood regulars as well as hosting weekly cuppings - all for free - to customers who are vocally eager to pay for the freshly roasted coffee they are drinking.
If you haven’t been there yet, Bar Nine Collective is a gorgeous and expansive space in Culver City’s, Hayden Tract housing a coffee bar, a Probat Roaster, a few offices and a kitchen intended to host guest chefs. The space is wide open, which Zayde shared with me was inspired by Steve Job’s design concept for the Pixar offices. Job’s wanted Pixar to be a place that “promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations…. if a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity.” The Bar Nine team took this philosophy to heart, and chose to make their space as wide open and accessible as possible to foster community and creativity.
One of the showpieces at Bar Nine is their Mod Bar espresso machine. The Mod Bar has most of it’s parts hidden beneath the counter top, leaving only two sleek porta filters exposed and completely opening up surface of the bar. Instead of adjusting the grind to get a solid shot, the folks at Bar Nine had to re-learn how to make espresso by adjusting the brewing pressure or ‘pressure profiling.’ Traditionally it takes 9 bars of pressure to make espresso (hence the name Bar Nine) but these Barista’s get to play with different variances of pressure allowing them to produce more clarity and nuance in their shots.
Bar Nine takes environmental responsibility seriously, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because being eco friendly makes better business sense. With a goal of being fully powered by the sun, the rooftop of Bar Nine is home to multiple solar panels. In addition, they choose to use as few paper products as possible, opting to serve to-go customers their lattes in glass jars. At Bar Nine they are purists of sorts, and don’t to provide artificial sweeteners to pair with their coffees.
Details and logistics aside, the most interesting part of Bar Nine Collective is to hear the evolution of Zayde’s caffeinated dream come into reality - at first toying with ideas of opening a kiosk or serving out of a small space and then making a decision whether to roast or not. And, learning that Zayde’s insomnia, spurred by the excitement of opening a business, led him to a late night craigslist search where he found the massive Culver City space available for lease. Taking the risk to open something the scale of Bar Nine Collective is tremendous.
As the time draws near for their opening party, Zayde shares with me how surreal it has been to see Bar Nine Collective come to fruition and how grateful he is for all the people and opportunities that have collectively made it a reality. From Zayde’s perspective, baristas only get a short window to enrich someone’s day and he wants your experience at Bar Nine Collective to be as lovely as possible.
With so many Northern California specialty coffee roasters coming to Los Angeles it’s fantastic to see a local roaster make their mark on the city. Zayde, thanks for your dedication to truly great coffee.