It would be no exaggeration to call the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley a coffee wasteland. Even Starbucks locations are few and far between up here.
But as of two months ago — with the opening of Compañía de Café in the city of San Fernando — the area’s coffee culture has jumped light years ahead. At Compañía de Café you’ll specialty coffee drinks and pastries baked in-house, both heavily influenced by Latino culture. A large blue-and-white tile mural decorates the back wall, flanked by a glowing pastry display case, and a seating area filled with with rustic wooden tables and couches. Chicano artwork and design touches abound — from luchador masks lamp fixtures to Frida Kahlo homages on the coasters.
Owner Gaby Arvizu recruited two L.A. rising stars to staff her all-day café: director of coffee operations Percy Ramirez, who previously worked at G&B Coffee and Intelligentsia, and head pastry chef Tamara Davis, a former pastry chef at Bottega Louie.
At the coffee bar, you’ll find beans from two great craft roasters. Ramirez uses Forty Ninth Parallel for espresso drinks and George Howell for brewed coffees. Single-origin pour overs, made on a state-of-the-art ModBar system, cost only $3.50 — a bargain compared to most L.A. coffee shops.
Mochas (hot or iced) are mixed with velvety house-made chocolate ganache, including a Mocha Diablo spiced with chipotle and chile de arbol, an Abuelita Mocha with cinnamon, and a white chocolate version infused with lime called the Cuahtémoc Blanco. If you’re looking for a classic cappuccino, macchiato or latté, they can do that too — you can even request the house-made almond milk if you’d prefer.
Other unique items include caifanes (“cool dudes”) made from carbonated cold brew coffee spiked with fresh tamarind or hibiscus. They’re bubbly, tart, and totally refreshing.
In the pastry case, try deliciously elegant takes on dulce de leche-filled alfajores, vanilla pound cake filled with chocolate molé, multi-colored sugar cookies, slices of chorizo and potato quiche, and tender-crusted empanadas, filled with things like roasted corn and chipotle chicken.
Compañía de Café is no doubt impressive for San Fernando, but even if you were to air-drop it into the heart of Los Angeles, it’s fantastic coffee and pastry program would make it worthy of attention. And for those hesitant about making the long drive up the 5, there is added good news: Compañía de Café will be opening a second location in South Gate (just north of Long Beach) in August.
Compañía de Café, 110 N. Maclay Ave., San Fernando, 747-500-7102