There are some coffee experiences that have the ability to entirely shift your perspective of coffee. Early one morning back in June, I stopped by the Elabrew cube in Hollywood. In effort to rebel against my daily cappuccino routine, I asked the barista, “what’s good today?”
Being that coffee is seasonal thing and the roasting date impacts flavor and freshness, most laymen might not consider this, but ‘what’s good today?’ is an appropriate question to ask the person behind the coffee counter. If your barista is, eh em, ‘dialed in’ to the nuances of specialty coffee, they can make a selection for you that just might knock your proverbial socks off.
The Elabrew barista recommended a pour over of Ethiopia Selba from Portland’s Heart Roasters. He meticulously prepared, and delivered me a cup of mind-blowing magic with a flavor profile of ginger snap, bergamot and raspberry. I still think of that cup to this day and since that coffee experience, I have trusted Elabrew to deliver.
If you didn't know, Elabrew has two locations in Los Angeles, a coffee truck and a catering business. After watching the Hollywood cube's hand-painted face lift, I have been eagerly anticipating the transformation of Elabrew’s Colorado Center shop in Santa Monica. Formerly a Tully’s, then BrewBar, both of Elabrew's predecessors sported very ‘corporate’ iterations of cafe design (dark wood, high counters, generic typography and branding). But, the present Elebrew has metamorphosized into a much more unique environment at the hand of their talented creative director Joereal Elliott.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Joy Park, the lovely young lady behind Elabrew. Joy, a graduate of Cornell’s hospitality school with a subsequent MBA under her belt, shared with me the secret to her shop’s success, “I learned early on that hospitality isn't something that can be taught,” she said, as she expressed the importance of hiring a fantastic team of people who are equally as passionate about coffee as they are friendly and approachable.
We spoke about Elabrew’s transition from serving Stumptown when the shop operated under the name BrewBar to being a multi-roaster. Joy currently brings in coffee from Ritual, Bows x Arrows, Kuma Coffee and Heart Roaters (roasted in San Francisco, Victoria BC, Seattle and Portland respectively) and shows a preference for small-batch coffee’s with a light roast. Being a foodie who loves to cook, Joy, explained to me how roasting coffee beans is not dissimilar to cooking a steak. Her philosophy goes something like this: if you have a great piece of meat to start with, you are not going to prepare it well done or burn it to a crisp, you want to cook it less - say, medium rare - so you can taste as many of the inherent flavors as possible.
Her passion for the beans she is using at her shop naturally brought about her next admission - Joy has a 2.5 kilo roaster set up in a warehouse in Carson. Pretty soon, Elabrew is going to be serving their own roast. She flipped through her phone and showed me photos of the potential package design she is working on with Joreal. As of now, it has an aesthetic similar to the Elabrew logo but their beans will be represented under a different name. Not surprisingly, a name which reflects her preference for a 'light' roast.
It is a pleasure to visit shops like Elabrew, where the people are lovely, where the passion and precision for coffee preparation is paramount and to experience a space that is artistically bold - given the current coffee bar trend toward minimalist spaces.
The ‘Ela’ in Elabrew comes from the word elevated.
Elabrew Santa Monica: 2425 Colorado Ave, Ste B118, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Elabrew Hollywood: CNN Tower, 6430 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028