Before 2010 World Barista Champion Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and Chris Owens — all former Intelligentsia employees — launched Handsome Coffee Roasters, they made an offer: Rather than throwing away the perfectly good coffee they produced as they experimented with their roasts, beta tasters could ante up a nominal amount and receive shipments of these initial batches. As it turned out, the number of people willing to test these coffees might have been about the same number as the gamers who signed on to beta-test the newest Call of Duty, such was the level of excitement surrounding the roastery. When Handsome finally upgraded its production from beta test to public release, the buzz matched the beans. Light and bright, Handsome's is the rare coffee that relies on flavor as much as caffeine to wake you up. Given how quickly Handsome has grown amidst the city's changing coffee scene, it's almost startling to remember that it launched in L.A. only a year ago, and the retail coffee shop just opened in February. Apparently, the games have just begun. 582 Mateo St., dwntwn. (213) 621-4194,

—Tien Nguyen

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