Photograph by Kristina Coates
Together they look like a Michael Kors ad or maybe the latest bunch of period mixologists, but certainly not coffee guys. Not with those neckties and cropped dos. But then again, according to Tyler Wells, Chris Owens, and Michael Phillips—the team behind Handsome Coffee Roasters, which plans to open its flagship coffee bar this month—theirs is a new kind of brew.
The Intelligentsia alums (Phillips took the 2010 World Barista Championships for the Chicago-based company) began roasting light, fruity, single-origin coffee in September at a facility used by LaMill, a local competitor. Owens—who, his cohorts boast, “has probably the most impressive résumé in coffee”—provides the guiding hand. (Owens neither agrees nor disagrees, but it’s undeniable that he’s worked with just about everyone.) When their $50,000-plus vintage 1956 Probat UG-22 roasting machine arrives from Europe, the group will be able to more finely tune their bean cookery. “You have a lot more control,” says Owens. “It allows you to go from very soft to very high heat.”
The coffee bar, which is taking over an Arts District warehouse—will be one of the first of its kind in L.A., combining the roasting and retail components under one roof. Think of it as a caffeinated brewpub. “It’s an animal nobody’s ever seen,” says Wells, the company’s CEO.
Though the roasting will be happening behind a glass wall, the guys are hoping you don’t notice it in your cup. “The style that Chris has been applying is one where a roast isn’t a part of it,” says Phillips. “It allows the coffee itself to be present. If you can taste the roast, we messed up that batch.” Until the bar opens its doors, you can score Handsome Coffee beans online or have them brewed at Cognoscenti Coffee, Proof Bakery, Tiago Espresso Bar, and Coffee Bar.