After a six-month-long soft opening – the very long hello came courtesy the numerous and no doubt frustrating vicissitudes of the permitting processes – Bar Nine Collective is now officially open in Culver City in the Hayden Tract, or just a stone's throw from Surfas. So now you know where to get caffeinated after picking up a few bags of Valrhona dark chocolate feves.
At 3,400 square feet, Bar Nine is not a slight shop: It's open and roomy, with plenty of space for the sizeable Probatone P12s roaster that sits pretty on the floor next to a large communal table. Owner and founder Zayde Naquib characterizes Bar Nine's coffee as clean and sweet; a choice few are featured on bar daily.]
Naquib was inspired to open Bar Nine after helming the coffee bar at Transmission LA, Mike D's art-meets-food-meets-pinwheels installation at MOCA in 2012. There, getting a cup of coffee from the decked out bar was just as interactive as the immersive art exhibits this idea of reimagining the customer experience, Naquib says, resonated with him long after the installation was over.
Which brings us to the Modbar. That would be the machine the baristas are using here to make your coffee, those sleek steam wands and faucet-like heads that you'll see lining the low counters at the shop. The machine's “guts” are cloaked underneath the counter; if you took a peek under the hood, you'd find flickering modules and touch screens that control everything. You half-expect to hear Siri tell you how much caffeine you're consuming with each cup.
Toys like the Modbar are super fun in an Alton Brown sort of way: with the ability to control all sorts of settings, an especially inspired barista could while away many hours tinkering with these variables in search of a formula that will produce consistently good cups of coffee.
That said, the machine is part of a larger goal to improve things on the customer side. More to the point, the Modbar's lack of a visible footprint means there's not a whole lot between you and the barista. “It enables us to just look up,” says Naquib, “and make eye contact with customers.”
As for that coffee, there will be espresso drinks and Chemex pourovers, with homemade hazelnut milk at your non-dairy alternative. Drinks taken to go are served in glass jars, as the shop is committed to sustainability (the shop is also partially solar powered).
To eat, you'll find olive oil cake, rosemary shortbread and other rustic pastries that pair especially well with coffee, plus other breakfast-ish items like sweet and savory toasts, daily frittatas and breakfast sandwiches. In addition, Naquib says there are tentative plans to bring in chefs to pop-in and do lunch and dinner services.
Bar Nine Coffee Collective is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.