After eleven years in business as Psychobabble, the café on Vermont Avenue just south of Franklin in Los Feliz has been reborn with a streamlined name, attitude and look. Last week Bru Artisan Coffee + Tea opened in the same space.
“I want the emphasis to be on the coffee and tea,” says owner Sharleen Mokhtarzadeh, who took some time off to reassess the neighborhood café's focus and concept. Much has changed in broader coffeehouse culture since Psychbabble opened in 1999, back when people wanted overstuffed couches, chairs and board games “like in Friends,” Mokhtarzadeh explains. Bru serves coffee from Ritual Roasters in San Francisco and teas from T Salon.
Customers who used to kick back in wing chairs while holding an oversized mug of not-specifically-sourced brewed coffee will adjust to individual pour-over cups, harder interior surfaces, a selection of loose teas, and individual laptop culture. There is, however, a communal table at the front of the café — i.e. the new adjusted expression of café conviviality. Front glass doors open up onto the small sidewalk patio. Espresso is pulled on a three group-head La Marzocco, and representatives from Ritual trained the staff. Pastries (scones, muffins, croissants, cookies) travel from a much shorter distance, obviously, when they're delivered daily from Susina on Beverly.
The new Bru is partially a result of community input. Architect Don Holtz might not have known his comments left in Psychobabble's suggestion box would lead to a commission to renovate the space. But that's what happened when Mokhtarzadeh realized his advice was compatible with her own changing vision for her business. The formerly dark interior has given way to a high ceiling with exposed wood and steel trusses, a rear mezzanine, white walls, polished concrete floors. A string of teardrop shaped Edison bulbs illuminates the coffee and pastry counter, and rotating exhibitions featuring local artists will be well-served by proper lighting when that component gets underway.
You can still talk all you want at Bru in seating that might not be as cushy as Psychobabble's was, but at least you'll be drinking a top-notch cup of coffee. Bru is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.