It’s becoming more difficult to find a specialty coffeehouse without a flashy neon sign, savvy branding or Instagram-ready floor tile. House Roots Coffee is the antithesis. It's located on the second floor of a building in back of the Valley Korean United Methodist Church compound in Granada Hills. On Saturdays, House Roots open its doors to the general public, so that they can experience one of the San Fernando Valley’s best coffee bars.
Brand manager Tom Kong and director of coffee Jimmy Lee are Café Dulce veterans who are applying some of the best practices they learned in Little Tokyo to benefit the church. Kong, Lee and baristas including Susan Cho grew up in Valley Korean. House Roots is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and benefits a number of charities through coffee sales. For instance, 25 percent of sales from the June 6 shift went to Nepal earthquake relief.
Building on the success of a branch in a Valencia industrial park, House Roots Coffee has followed a path similar to Ignatius Café, which Father Choi founded in 2011 as part of St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church down by USC. Of course, House Roots isn’t just notable because it's charitable. The organization also is committed to quality, with Heart Coffee, Clover milk and a La Marzocco espresso machine. Seven wood stools are lined up in front of a concrete counter and drinks are listed on a blackboard menu. Expect minimal décor beyond that.
Kong and Lee are craft beer fans, so they have a riff on the type of hop-infused, carbonated tea you’d find at G&B Coffee downtown. However, they add twice the hops, along with elderflower and orange peel to transform monkey-picked oolong tea into Fizzy Hop Tea. They also serve kombucha on tap, mildly tart and flavored with blueberry and mint.
"We're inviting the community to get a glimpse of what we do until we get a storefront," Kong says. By 2016, he and Lee hope to have permanent storefronts in the Santa Clarita Valley and Granada Hills.
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28452 Constellation Road, Valencia. Fri., 4-9 p.m., Sat., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
10408 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills. Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m., www.facebook.com/houserootscoffee.