I first heard about Klatch while up in Seattle at Coffee Fest last fall. Being - what I thought was - relatively on top of the California coffee scene, I was shocked to learn that a So Cal shop and roastery had just won the title of America's Best Coffee House and I had never even heard of them. Another reminder that, when you think you know everything there is to know about something, you most probably don't.
Klatch has been on my list of places to visit since then. Living on the west side of Los Angeles and being a perpetual cafe tourist, I'd put their San Dimas and Rancho Cucamonga locations in my google maps a number of times and i'd always come up with the same excuse - "But… it's so far….maybe next week…"
Then, Todd Goldsworthy - officially known as the Klatch Coffee Guru - took over as head honcho for the Los Angeles' latte art competitions. These Thursday Night Throwdowns, or TNT's, happen once a month at different specialty shops throughout the city. Through Klatch's sponsorship of the TNT's, their beans and brand started showing up a little closer to home. When Klatch reached out and asked if I'd like to do a feature for the blog, I finally had a solid excuse to make the drive I had been putting off for nearly a year.
What's trending for the specialty coffee scene in Los Angeles is stellar espresso combined with high end design. We have places like Glanville and Babinski's Go Get Em Tiger and Handsome Coffee Roaster in downtown LA where every detail of the environment in which you sip your joe is equally as important as what you are drinking. Klatch's San Dimas location is not like these places. It's located in the corner unit of a strip mall, moments from the 57 freeway and has that old school coffee house feel - high bar, traditional style seating and art by local artists on the wall. At Klatch it's all about the coffee.
When I reached the cafe counter an extremely friendly barista greeted me with excitement to tell me all about the shop and their roasting program. In fact, she immediately went into so much detail, I regretted leaving my notepad in the car, because I really couldn't keep up with everything coffee these Klatch folks are involved with. Nevertheless, in talking with this bright eyed and enthusiastic barista, one thing was glaringly evident. Klatch trains their employees to get excited about the coffee, to pass along the passion and knowledge to their customers, without the pretension one might expect to experience in a more trendy shop.
The Klatch family has been roasting coffee in SoCal for 20 years. To put things in perspective, they've been in the game 6 years longer than Portland's famed Stumptown. They have 5 shops including a location in Soeul, Korea. And, for the travellers in the group, you'll be happy to know they even have a spot in LAX's fancy new terminal 7. Klatch currently roasts 50 different types of bean and sources their green from coffee hot spots all over the world. I learned through hearing several stories they have a "you scratch my back, i'll scratch your's" type of relationship with their coffee farmers. In other words, they take care of each other when times are tough, which is something us socially conscious Californian's love to hear.
Since I drove the distance, I decided to go all in and order their featured weekly specialty - a Panama Ironman Geisha. It's a $12 cup of coffee. "You're going to want to sit for a while and really savor this," the barista said.
It was 11:30am on a sweltering tuesday. The place was so packed there was hardly a seat available. I squeezed into a spot at one end of a couch, set up my mug full of Geisha and started taking pictures. Intrigued by what I was doing, the lady sitting next to me struck up a conversation. She, like me, was a total coffee enthusiast.
We talked about coffee and our favorite roasteries in and around town. Klatch was her local and on the top of her list. She also listed off Jones, Handsome and Santa Barbara's Handlebar. "Quite respectable company to be included with," I thought to myself, as I sipped on my cup of jasmine flavored decadence. We even compared our experiences of coffee while traveling. "You must make it to Antigua Guatemala for the coffee," she insisted.
I was so glad I had finally made the trip to Klatch- to spend some time, sip on some Geisha, and connect with fellow coffee lovers. Coffee was most certainly the conversation.