Why Some of L.A.’s Top Coffee Shops Are Roasting Their Own Beans

Go Get ’Em Tiger and others get in the roasting game

After five years of sourcing coffee beans from some of the best roasters in North America—Vancouver’s 49th Parallel, San Francisco’s Ritual, Portland’s Heart—Go Get ’Em Tiger cofounders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski decided to embark on a new challenge: bringing roasting in-house.

 

Without making much noise, the duo spent all of 2017 and the better part of 2018 honing their technique while discreetly slipping early batches onto the menus at their five L.A. cafés. “If you’ve drunk coffee at our cafés consistently over that time, odds are you’ve drunk some of our coffee already,” Glanville wrote in a post on the website Medium last August.

Housed in a 16,000-square-foot production space in Vernon, Glanville and Babinski’s enterprising operation will soon be going full tilt, making use of a 15-kilo Mill City roaster and a hulking 45-kilo Probat rig imported from Germany. The duo enlisted Matthew Williams, a former roaster at Ruby Coffee in Wisconsin, to oversee the operation (he previously moonlighted as a GGET barista). “The larger you get, the more sense it makes to roast your own if you really are invested in every aspect of the end product,” says Babinski.

Go Get ’Em Tiger isn’t the only popular coffee bar exploring the roasting game. Cognoscenti Coffee founder Yeekai Lim has been roasting on a Probat UG15 in City Market South for the past year. “We started roasting to further our coffee education and craft,” Lim says, adding that the process also helps reinforce a local brand. “We wanted to make roasting accessible and show you don’t have to travel far to find excellent coffee.”

Paramount Coffee Project, a Sydney-based outfit run by Russell Beard, Ping Jin Ng, and Mark Dundon, fired up a 15-kilo roaster in the back of its ROW DTLA café in September. Its signature Guatemalan and Ethiopian blend powers espresso drinks, but unlike GGET, the shop offers beans other than its own. “The coffee world is small, and we love showcasing our roasting friends, too,” Dundon says. They roast, he says, to “explore and experiment rather than supply pounds.”

The same complex that houses PCP will soon also be home to the SoCal flagship of Coffee Manufactory, a San Francisco-based company co-owned by the Tartine restaurant group. The industrial-size production facility will be able to roast 800 pounds of coffee per hour, intended mostly for cold brew and coffee-based beverages, but the company’s head of coffee, Chris Jordan, also envisions a more modest setup for small batch, experimental, locally exclusive coffees. “L.A. is becoming one of the most exciting cities for coffee,” he says, “and we want to keep the coffee community here engaged.” That’s certainly a sentiment that all the city’s nascent roasters can agree on.


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