An area surrounded by auto body repair shops and a carpet store on busy Pico Boulevard two blocks east of Fairfax is not exactly where you might imagine a coffee shop. And not just your local coffee shop serving drip coffee and milk charged lattes, but a place where beans from Intelligentsia and Ecco Caffe go into individual cups of coffee brewed from v60's (pour-over-cones) and espresso flows from a respected Synesso machine. Paper or Plastik, which opened August 28th, also has a modern dance studio in the back, a flower shop upstairs, and an exposed brick, steel and reclaimed wood aesthetic.
In 2008, Yasha and Anya Michelson, a visual artist and a designer, respectively, purchased the building and transformed the operational 30-year Dancer's Studio into Mimoda --- a modern dance studio focusing on improvisation (Mimoda Jazzo) and story telling (Jazzo) by way of dance. At the same time, the couple was determined to convert the front portion of the two story building into a café reminiscent of the ones they found in Europe and New York. They contacted artist, Gia Tsabadze, who stayed true to the ethos of the previously industrialized space (it was once a commercial laundromat) by preserving an unadulterated interior with the addition of steel tables, shelves and stairs that take you to the Michelsons' second story flower and gift shop. Tsabadze is also responsible for the welded pour-over station adorning the custom bar.
Wanting a quality coffee program to match Paper or Plastik's surroundings, the Michelsons found coffee professional Tony Konecny, to consult on the coffee program. Two years later, Paper or Plastik Cafe opened its doors with hot coffee brewed to order, twelve-hour cold brew, tea from T Salon and carefully poured cappuccinos. There are also sandwiches, salads, and lasagna cupcakes from Heirloom-LA, sweets from Hotcakes, Sweets for the Soul, Cake Monkey, and croissants from the local La Maison Du Pain.
Devin Pedde, Intelligentsia's Silverlake Coffee Educator and 2010 US Barista Championship bronze medalist, spent a couple days with the staff teaching them the fundamentals of pulling espresso, steaming milk and caring for the machines. "This is one of the more beautiful coffee bars I've seen built in a long time," says Pedde. Sure he may be biased, but it's hard opinion to argue with.
Paper or Plastik: 5772 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City; 323-935-0268.