Specialty coffee is continuing to have its moment in Los Angeles. The robust scene has managed to attract out-of-town high-end coffees and shops such as Bay Area spots like Sightglass, Blue Bottle, and Tartine’s Coffee Manufactory. Despite the encroachment of more corporate entities, Los Angeles and the surrounding areas are fortunate to have birthed a group of small, independently-owned coffee purveyors who not only pour drinks but roast beans and source raw products themselves. These up-and-coming companies have worked tirelessly to keep LA wired, including several that have started specifically during the pandemic. Each provides its different varieties and signature blends of coffee, along with stellar coffee service. Here are seven great options for local coffee that go beyond the bigger LA names like Go Get Em Tiger, City Bean, and Caffe Luxxe.
Trinity Coffee CBC
The San Pedro-based Trinity CBC’s name stands for coffee, brew, and cultura. It’s a spirit that owner Paul Bobadilla embraces daily as the sole proprietor of the business, turning out house-roasted beans and drinks like bottled cold brews such as cafe de olla, horchata, and lavender with oat milk. Batches of the good stuff can be found in different locales throughout LA County, like at The Heights Deli & Bottle Shop (with locations in Lincoln Heights and Glassell Park) and Bagels Galore in San Pedro. Bobadilla oversees all aspects of his business, from supervising the roasting of the beans to handling wholesale accounts to delivery. Trinity’s beans tend to feature a light roast profile with names like Dos Marias, which has had various fruit layers removed before the drying process begins. Others, like the wet-processed Ethiopian G-Funk, pay direct homage to LA culture. Trinity CBC’s beans can be found at shops like Amara Kitchen and Artesia Deli in Redondo Beach, and can also be purchased from the company’s website.
Trinity CBC can be found via the website and on Instagram
Post Era Coffee Roasters
Post Era Coffee is a Chicana-owned roaster that regularly pops up at the Atwater farmers market, providing coffee service to the sleepy-eyed Eastside with such offerings as iced cold brew cafe de olla. Alex Huerta, an LA resident who originally clawed her way up the ranks in the more corporate coffee world, realized that there weren’t many coffee roasters of color (let alone many women) in the role. So starting in 2019, after serving as an assistant roaster at another independent roasting company, Huerta began Post Era Coffee Roasters as a way to exhibit her own skills and tastes while offering a level of traceability and fully acknowledging coffee’s association with colonization. Knowing where the coffee comes from is an essential factor for Huerta, who pushes to connect with medium-sized coffee co-ops directly, while attempting to work with farmers from other parts of the world who are interested in selling coffee in the United States. The close-knit relationship between farmer and roaster as part of these co-ops helps to keep export costs down; it also allows for a more transparent relationship compared to other fair-trade relationships, that, despite efforts, often still remain inequitable.
Post Era’s Espanto blend is made with a natural process, containing notes of fig, red fruits, and cacao; it also specializes in a few Colombian coffees, such as Finca Russilandia, with raspberry truffle, strawberry jam, and root beer tasting notes. A recent popular edition, Covadonga, is a washed single-origin coffee from Guatemala with caramel and citrus notes and a subtle floral finish.
Post Era Coffee pops up every Sunday at the Atwater Village Farmers Market 3528 Larga Avenue, Los Angeles from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Be Bright Coffee
Be Bright began its genesis when coffee veteran Frank La wanted to provide an approachable entry point to their specialty coffee. His hope was to create a coffee drinking experience that was tailored specifically for the Be Bright customer’s taste buds. Regularly popping up at Smorgasburg, owners Frank and Michelle La see their fans dutifully line up to get a taste of their signature Vivid Cream Latte, a harmonious blend made with sweet brown sugar, foam, and a proper dusting of cocoa powder. Others arriving early may opt instead for a strong cortado or bright Americanos. Backed by years of experience, the Las started in November 2020, focusing on a direct-to-consumer model before transitioning to weekly sales at Smorgasburg, Downtown LA’s ongoing outdoor food bazaar. In September 2021, Be Bright earned first place in the U.S. Cold Brew Championship using a Mexican Geisha coffee the group roasted themselves.
To help customers pick a flavor profile for their coffee, the Las have boiled down the process to a series of categories on their website. Bestsellers include a variety of blends like the Sojourner House option, which offers a sweet and rich body and is used for the company’s popular cold brew, as well as their Kaleidoscope, which contains notes of fruit and citrus.
Be Bright Coffee pops up every Sunday at Smorgasburg, 777 S. Alameda Street, Los Angeles, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Solid Coffee Roasters
With locations in Artesia, the Steelcraft container park in Bellflower, and the corporate roasting warehouse in Downey, Solid Coffee Roasters provides an extensive footprint of local roasters. Head roaster Mikey Tallman relies on a Loring roaster, a hot-air configuration that makes for a precise roast. It’s akin to a convection oven that circulates heat instead of using direct-heat roasters, and Tallman says that it results in a more delicate and consistent result. Solid Coffee’s medium-roasted Colombia is a popular option, with notable dark and sweet flavors, while the overt dark roast pushes even further into caffeinated richness using beans from Brazil; expect notes of chocolate with a smooth nutty finish.
Solid Coffee Roasters, 12147 South Street, Artesia (Artesia); 16500 Bellflower Boulevard Unit C-100, Bellflower (Bellflower Steelcraft Container Park Location)
Penny Coffee Roasters
Penny Coffee Roasters is the baby of small-business entrepreneur Nicholas Rodriguez, who worked as a barista at various local cafes around his hometown of Long Beach, all the while taking in everything he could about the coffee-making process. Inspired in part by working at the now-defunct Australian specialty coffee operation Paramount Coffee Project, Rodriguez began to formulate his vision of being a multi-roaster concept with a focus on hyper-seasonality. While working toward his dream on the side, Rodriguez moved back home to his mother’s house in Long Beach, where he honed his craft at Long Beach-based Steelhead Coffee, assisting with sourcing and roasting in house. It was at that time that Rodriguez began consulting with Scott Rao, a coffee expert and author. Applying the knowledge gained from Rao to dial in his roasts, Rodriguez used a data-driven method that electronically graphs the temperature at each stage of the roast. As time progressed, he was offered a space at the Glendora Public Market with room to roast on site and service customers directly, and Penny Roasters was born.
Along the way Rodriguez met Kristin Colazas, his future wife and owner of Colossus, a bakery pop-up that has since expanded to storefronts in San Pedro and Long Beach. Penny Roasters, which is served at Colossus and — fittingly enough — all Steelhead locations, opened in Glendora in early 2021 and has maintained a steady flow of customers who regularly stop by to try new drinks and grab beans for home. The company’s simple and data-driven take reflects Rodriguez’s commitment to serving fresh, seasonally driven coffee.
Penny Coffee Roasters, Glendora Public Market 905 E. Arrow Highway, Glendora
Joules and Watts
Max Gualtieri was bored with his career working in music education as an assistant director in Rhodes School of Music after he graduated from CalArts with a degree in jazz guitar performance. To help find focus, he turned his attention to the different flavors found in well-cultivated and extracted coffee. Gualtieri’s eagerness became an obsession as he chased different drinks at new cafes and asked detailed questions about a company’s roasting process. Approaching the coffee business from the perspective of sheer passion and positivity allowed Gualtieri to keep that learner’s mentality, even as he grew Joules and Watts into a Downtown LA roaster and Malibu Village cafe.
Drawing from his musicianship, Gualtieri practiced different roasting techniques until he found one that yielded the perfect result. Fueled by this commitment and creativity, Joules and Watts continues to get better as its customer base expands. Gualtieri works to keep his menu consistent and approachable, featuring exclusively washed-processed coffee (except for a bit of natural Brazil in his espresso blend). Joules and Watts serves what he describes simply as “coffee-flavored coffee,” a flavor profile and a perspective that is meant to lower the barrier of entry to specialty coffee. Customers can enjoy that pared-back take at the Malibu shop with the option of exploring more intricate flavors with a bag of beans at home.
Joules and Watts, 3888 Cross Creek Road, Malibu
Patria Coffee Roasters
Compton and nearby South LA residents are blessed to have Patria Coffee, a cafe and roaster that serves as an oasis of caffeine. The cafe on Alameda doubles as a community hub, and is an example of the hard work owner Geoffrey Martinez has put in to create a space for Black and brown customers to come together for a cup and some conversation. Picking up a bag of any of the fresh and organic light, dark, and medium roasts on hand is a way to support Martinez’s mission, while those looking for something on the go can try the cafe de olla, with its superb tasting notes that are equal parts citrus and sweet spice, along with the heavily Mexican mocha and its creamy chocolate notes.
Patria Coffee Roasters, 108 Alameda Street, Compton
Note: The owners of Be Bright Coffee are related to Eater LA editor Matthew Kang, who has no business connection to the company and was not involved in the compilation, editing, or publication of this story.