Some new coffee shops are calling themselves part of the “third wave.”
The first wave was marked by the proliferation of store-bought brands and the second was made up of premium coffees, typically dispensed by specialty shops such as Starbucks.
The third wave is made up of premium coffees that might even be locally roasted. But they put an emphasis on the experience.
So instead of rushing out of a Starbucks with a nonfat latte in one hand and a cell phone in the other, third wave drinkers are supposed to sit and savor the coffee-drinking experience – ideally free from the distraction of their devices.
Gary Chau and Mark Wain joined the third wave in Los Angeles in 2006 when they opened the first of threeshops called Caffe Luxxe, based in Santa Monica with about 30 employees. They are moving their roasting facility from Seattle to Gardena later this month to keep operations as local as possible. The move will add about five employees.
Wain said that even though the third wave is still a novelty here, it’s beginning to take hold.
“Given L.A.’s size and the diverse communities we have, I think we’re just getting started,” he said.
Other area cafes that play a role in L.A.’s third wave include Handsome Coffee Roasters, Café Corsa, Groundwork Coffee Co., Cafecito Organico LLC and Lamill Coffee.
Caffe Luxxe coffee costs a little more than a grande at Starbucks, going for about $4 to $5 a cup.
Chau and Wain met in an M.B.A. program at USC, spent several years in jet-setting corporate jobs, then decided they wanted to get back to Los Angeles and redefine community on the Westside.
Chau and Wain want customers to communicate with each other, not their devices. So there’s no Wi-Fi at Caffe Luxxe.
“I find the business of coffee very fascinating because it’s really about people,” said Chau.
– Bailey Brewer
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