The partners behind Highland Park’s popular Kumquat Coffee opened a sister location in Cypress Park last week. But this one’s got a different name and menu, and will easily join the wave of contemporary coffeehouses in Los Angeles.
Loquat Coffee is less than a mile away from a very busy Starbucks on Figueroa, and is the very antithesis of the coffee chain, with a rotating menu that features seasonal ingredients in a bright, modern space.
Owners Scott Sohn and AJ Kim opened Kumquat in 2019, and it quickly became the area’s most popular spot to get caffeinated, with loyal customers who patiently wait for baristas to meticulously prepare teas, grab a cup, or score some caffeinated accessories. The partners take great care and emphasize South Korea’s coffee culture at both locations — but Loquat’s menu leans into specialty items, with four choices for espresso, including a Samboni Gesha blend that’s put through a 72-hour anaerobic, fermented, and oxygenated process. Loquat only uses beans that are roasted in-house.
The remaining menu consists of pour-overs, Americanos, flat whites, and cold brews. Kim and Sohn also developed some specialty items like a housemade masala chai, and espresso with a mascarpone foam and cold milk.
As for the space, it’s in a historic ice cream shop; the sign was left intact to respect the neighborhood and the previous vendors. Sohn and Kim brought in a minimalist design group from South Korea named Joongho Choi, which kept things, in Kim’s own words, “the mood of LA.” That translates to a minimal room with exposed brick, dark woods, massive windows, and large splashes of yellow. Indoor counter seating is available along with outdoor tables.
Kim and Sohn signed the lease in 2020 and were ready to open four months ago, but waited for city inspectors to sign off. It’s slightly over 1,000 square feet but feels bigger. It’s a contrast to Kumquat’s outdoor-only seating — thanks to the pandemic — but Loquat’s counter seating is designed to facilitate conversations about coffee between customers and staff. There’s plenty to talk about, especially considering Food & Wine labeled Kumquat as one of the best in the country in 2022.
Loquat opened in a neighborhood entrenched with gentrification. Cypress Park rests next to Mount Washington, Lincoln Heights, and directly across the LA River in Frogtown. Less than two miles away, Dunsmoor found itself protested by longtime residents who said the restaurant — which opened in June — was “harmful” towards longtime Glassell Park residents.
Loquat is located on the same block as established neighborhood spot Restaurante Tierra Caliente, an unfussy neighborhood joint. Kim is a longtime local resident and aware of the changes in the area, and strives to keep Loquat’s prices lower than most other cafes. Kim also shared that his team applied for and was rejected from leasing 12 potential brick-and-mortar sites throughout LA. There’s also plans for a third forthcoming location.
“We’re coffee people, and the best thing we can do is to make the best coffee every single day,” says Kim.
Loquat is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, except for Mondays.