In July 2018, Farm Cup coffee owners Emerson Haro and Tony Yuan rolled out a gorgeous yellow vintage 1964 Citroën van to caffeinate the streets of LA. They served until the beginning of the pandemic, where they shut down operations and found a temporary installation for their dry goods and roasted beans in Century City. With constant breakdowns, the van has likely finished its days trudging through LA traffic and has found a more permanent home in West Hollywood.
Haro and Yuan plan to take out the driving parts of the Citroën and park the van literally inside a space at 7748 Santa Monica Blvd, a former fashion and gift boutique. The planned opening is May 2021, with Haro and Yuan saying the city of West Hollywood has been helpful with expediting the approval and inspection process.
Farm Cup’s original goal was to empower and benefit farmers in origin countries, many of whom aren’t able to benefit from the economics of the coffee industry. By having direct contact to farmers and having them roast beans in their respective countries, Haro and Yuan can pay a higher price and pass off the earnings to farmers who work so hard to process high quality coffee. This effort, which they called Farm Cup Originals, had to go on hiatus due to the pandemic, though Haro and Yuan plan to bring back the program once the pandemic settles down.
“The whole ethos and who we are is trying to support farmers in these countries. We pass the profits to them, and they make about 100 percent more than if it was unroasted green coffee. It’s our way of supporting them,” says Haro. Until then, Farm Cup will continue to use beans roasted locally here in LA.
The project came about when Haro and Yuan spoke with developer Diego Torres-Palma of Ventana Ventures on Startup to Storefront podcast. After the discussion, Torres-Palma and the Farm Cup duo decided to partner on a physical storefront for the vintage coffee van, finding a home for it in West Hollywood. Torres-Palma, whose podcast centers around community development, design, permitting, and construction, helped to bring San Diego-based Mexican brewery Border X to Bell in 2019.
Another of the shop’s calling cards is their signature drinks, such as a lavender latte with honey or a salted caramel with Peruvian salt. Yuan and Haro’s travels inspired a lot of these signature drinks, including the horchata cold brew resembling a tres leches cake coming from a trip to Yucatán. While Farm Cup won’t serve any prepared food at the cafe, they will continue to serve pastries and sweets from Farm Shop. When it opens, the cafe will only have to-go coffee, though as county safety guidelines loosen, they plan to have outdoor seating. Indoor seating will come much later down the line provided social distancing and other measures diminish in coming months and years.
Preliminary hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.