Pulley Collective’s Steve Miersch

Pulley Collective’s Steve Miersch Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Glanville and Babinski, who worked at Intelligentsia Coffee Inc. before starting G&B, plan to have 30 stores in Los Angeles by 2021. “We want to be a part of the fabric of the city,” Glanville said.

For those who can’t make it to their cafes, GGET has launched a subscription service, using the direct-to-consumer model that has seen success in other industries. They don’t want to go through distributors or wholesalers for fear of diluting their brand.

GGET’s founders say they believe there’s plenty of strength in the L.A. coffee market, especially given the success of other specialty makers.

Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. was swallowed by Nestle in 2017. And third-wave pioneers Intelligentsia and Stumptown Coffee Roasters were both acquired in 2015 by German investment firm JAB Holding, which also owns Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc.

Part of L.A.’s appeal, aside from its sheer size, is that the city has been a traditional launching pad for successful West Coast brands. It’s where Starbucks experienced massive growth. Same for locally grown Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which was recently acquired by Jollibee Foods Corp.

“Los Angeles has one of the strongest progressive coffee cultures in the world,” said Colby Barr, co-founder of Verve Coffee Roasters. “I feel like it’s having its moment.”

Santa Cruz-based Verve opened a 7,000-square-foot flagship roaster and restaurant downtown last month. The location will be a testing ground for new drinks and features a craft coffee bar. Mocktails like the Cascara Negroni — made with orange bitters, juniper tonic and cascara vermouth crafted from the skin of a coffee cherry — can be had for $10.

Percolating downtown

The coffee scene is becoming increasingly intense, particularly downtown.

In addition to the GGET location, the Sydney-based Paramount Coffee Project recently arrived at ROW DTLA. Nearby, Bay Area-based Tartine opened a 6,000-square-foot roaster for its Coffee Manufactory brand earlier this year. And there are several more roasters in the surrounding area.

Los Angeles has been a magnet for regional coffeemakers, said Steve Miersch, who runs Brooklyn-based Pulley Collective. Miersch opened a Vernon outpost of his coffee-roasting plant this year, betting that more cafe owners will be looking to prepare their own beans.

The operation runs much like a space run by WeWork Cos. Inc., catering to smaller operations that don’t have the funds or volume to invest in production but want control of their product.

“There’s this explosion in the higher-end coffee shop owners that are opening up,” Miersch said. “The more educated the coffee shop owner gets about the product, the more likely they are to want to roast. It’s an evolutionary growth.”

Although Americans aren’t necessarily taking in more coffee, they are pickier about what they’re sipping. And that makes premium coffee more popular than ever.

For the first time, so-called gourmet coffee beverages accounted for a larger share of consumption than regular coffee in 2018, according to the National Coffee Association.

NPD Group Inc. found that Americans’ love of the beverage has fueled growth in quick-service coffee shops, which expanded by 3% last year.

At Verve’s new cafe downtown, event planner Evelyn Jimenez sipped a coconut vanilla latte with her friend, a stylist.

“This is more elevated than Starbucks,” she said, hovering over her opened Apple laptop. “I feel like the coffee is fresher.”

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