For many of us, the day cannot begin without coffee. If you happen to live in the southern reaches of Mid-City, a fresh option for picking up your daily grind has landed: Hermanos Coffee, situated at San Vicente Boulevard and Carmona Avenue.
The location might surprise those familiar with that mostly residential swath of San Vicente, but that’s precisely what drew owners Wayne Rambharose, 53, and Damon White, 50, to the under-the-radar spot. The duo wanted to debut their brand in a dense and diverse community underserved in terms of high-quality lattes and cappuccinos. From there, they say the sky’s the limit.
“I love Mid-City, and I know how strong it is,” Rambharose said. “We’ve run a grassroots campaign since opening, going door to door and shaking hands with residents. And the community has responded. We saw a great opportunity to make an imprint here.”
Neighbors and drive-byers can expect drinks made with beans from La Colombe Coffee Roasters, a Philly-based outfit that's expanding to L.A., plus donuts from Cofax and locally made granola from Bearclaw Kitchen. Clover Juice is another L.A. partner with goodies in the refrigerator case. To help the shop compete in an era of loaded toast, slices of walnut bread topped with almond butter and fresh fruit will be added to the menu shortly. Keep in mind, however, that Rambharose and White are always making changes for the better.
“It’s been an organic process for us,” White said. “When we built this space, it was a long soft opening of discovery. Expect it to be slightly different every time you come. This is an evolution.”
Despite their business name and their mutual affinity for brimmed hats — a fact forever emblazoned on the monochromatic Hermanos logo — Rambharose and White aren’t actually brothers. They have known each other for decades, though, and they trust each other’s business savvy. Together, they have more than 50 years of food-and-beverage industry experience. White was most recently owner of Otis, a now-closed bar on San Francisco’s Maiden Lane; Rambharose is co-owner of Venice newcomer Wallflower and spent seven years as manager of Bar Marmont.
If you don’t count the time White sold coffee from a vintage barista cart in front of Otis, Hermanos Coffee is the team’s first serious foray into the world of caffeine. Their decision to open a brick-and-mortar shop was partly inspired by the births of their daughters, both now 2 years old. The men agree that slinging macchiatos rather than mai tais jives better with their lives as fathers. Little things at the shop nod to their new parental roles. Sturdy wooden blocks double as low tables or stools for guests, for instance. Younger patrons also have been known to plunk down on the sidewalk to play or eat beside their parents' feet. The all-outdoor seating setup accommodates furry friends, too.
“Hermanos is a destination for families and for others to walk to, grab and go, sit and commune,” White said. “We want to sell coffee to all people, and in a place that is a reflection of who we are. And we take our job seriously — we serve the community at a very high level, from service to product.”
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There’s plenty of reason to believe that the pair have started down a well-lit path. Since opening doors at the Mid-City location last July, they’ve been solicited by numerous outlets to replicate in some form or other. Last month, they launched a tiny, built-in kiosk in the Standard Hotel downtown — look for them under the escalator, White says with a grin — and every Saturday they sell coffee on the back patio of clothing boutique Lou & Grey in Pasadena. A fourth outpost in Control Collective, a cooperative workspace in Playa del Rey, is coming soon.
“We’re excited about the expansion possibilities,” Rambharose said. “We see coffee as the great uniter. It helps people connect physically and emotionally. We want to bring this to every neighborhood that can support it.”
Hermanos Coffee in Mid-City is currently open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Hermanos Coffee, 5616 San Vicente Blvd., Mid-City; hermanoscoffee.com.