What defines a community? This is a question I ask myself, not for purposes of abstract thought exercise (ok, maybe in part), but because I'm still on the hunt for a sense of belonging. In Los Angeles, this can be an overwhelming task. Not only are there multiple factors to consider (traffic, lifestyle, etc.), but there is constant change. The area where I live is caught between embracing and resisting a changing of the guard.
Anyway. There was a catalyst for this thought. Cognoscenti Coffee opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Culver City yesterday. A mere fifteen minute drive from me, yet an entire city over. I wondered if it would be anything like Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney (where you are called forward to the coffee counter by meticulously dressed baristas, where people perch rather than lounge). I am, as you can tell, very interested in how places make you feel.
I found a small, spare space with two round tables and a smattering of chairs along a wall. Yeekai Lim and another barista (I didn't get her name) stood behind the bar. They walked me through their selection of beans. They patiently answered my newbie questions.
What's the right grind for pourover? Depends on factors like brew length and water temperature. Yeekai even did a sample grind for me, to demonstrate.
Why did you move here? The space sits below Clive Wilkinson Architects. It was initially offered to Handsome Coffee, but they found it too small and recommended Cognoscenti.
Why the Westside? Yeekai has a strong interest in bringing coffee to this area.
They asked questions of me, too.
What do you normally like to drink? Straight up black coffee, drip or otherwise.
Where do you go for coffee? Uhh good question.
How do you normally make your coffee? Pourover.
Seeing the small selection of beans on the shelves, I asked Yeekai to recommend one from Ritual. I was feeling nostalgic for San Francisco. He directed me to Counter Culture instead. Something new for me.
There was so much I liked about the entire interaction. I love learning, and it feels like a gift when knowledgeable people take the time to inform and welcome you. It beats lonely internet research, I say.
I don't know what this area will look like tomorrow or whether lines will start streaming out the door of this shop. But I had a good experience today.
P.S. The fruity Colombian coffee from Wrecking Ball was excellent. Thanks, Yeekai!