In the middle of the lobby of the Hotel Normandie in Koreatown is a piano. And if you are the type of person who considers an unplayed piano as tragic as an unread copy of The Master and Margarita and thus sit down to tickle the ivories, maybe, just maybe, you will be rewarded with a cup of coffee from a coffee cart just stage left of that piano. And this cup of coffee from that coffee cart won't be your typical hotel-room sludge -- no, it will be poured courtesy Yeekai Lim's Cognoscenti Coffee, which will pop up in the hotel starting Tuesday.
The Hotel Normandie currently is undergoing an extensive renovation, and bringing in Cognoscenti Coffee for an indefinite pop-up is just one part of hotel owner Jingbo Lou's plans to rework the Normandie from top to bottom. Though there's still a considerable amount of work to be done, Lou hopes the lobby will evolve into an area for both guests and the community at large, where anyone can stop in for a bite to eat, grab a cup of coffee or meet with friends. "We want to bring people in and show the culture here. And coffee is part of this culture," Lou says, pointing to Cognoscenti Coffee's cart.
And thus Lim will be serving both hotel guests and the Koreatown crowd out of a small cart that doesn't hold much more than a grinder, an espresso machine and a timer. As he does at his other location in Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, Lim will brew coffee from a few different roasters, though he plans to be "very selective and serve only my favorites." During a soft opening last Friday, Four Barrel beans were in the hopper; this week, he plans to offer coffee from Portland's excellent Heart Coffee Roasters, as well as a "mystery coffee."
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Lim expects Cognoscenti Coffee at the Normandie Hotel to be open weekdays from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., though the inherent nature of a pop-up means the occasional unexpected change in hours, so check his Twitter page before venturing out. Incidentally, that particular element of unpredictability is as fun for us as it is for Lim: "Starting pop-ups is really exciting," he says. "You never know who's showing up and what they're drinking." Or, apparently, what tune they'll crank out of an old piano.
Cognoscenti Coffee at the Hotel Normandie is located at 605 S. Normandie Ave. in Koreatown.
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