Cafecito Orgánico, the coffee shop and roastery that began life as a farmers market stall and once operated out of a back room of Mama's Hot Tamales near MacArthur Park, is expanding. Not like a little expansion, but the kind of proliferation that makes you think everybody just needs access to higher levels of quality caffeine. Angel Orozco and Mitch Hale have partnered with designer John M. Sofio (the Beverly, Pink Taco Sunset) to open a third location in Point Dume Village on Heathercliff Road. The Malibu Cafecito Orgánico, conveniently located a few doors away from Paul Shoemaker's restaurant Savory, opened July 21. And not one, not two, but seven more Cafecito Organicos are opening in the next few months, in downtown L.A., Echo Park, Venice, Pasadena, Torrance and two in Orange County.
“We got this opportunity,” Hale told me yesterday, in what could be described as an understatement. He and Orozco met Sofio over coffee, unsurprisingly, as the designer was a regular Cafecito Orgánico customer. Hale says there have been lines out the door since they opened, perhaps due to the fact that the nearest third-wave coffee shop, Cafe Luxxe, is about 20 miles away. It doesn't hurt that many of their Silver Lake regulars come up to surf in Malibu.
The Malibu shop is outfitted with a three-group Strada La Marzocco, as well as an Astoria single-group lever machine — there are Astorias in both of the other shops, as Hale says the machines are “part of our hands-on approach.” The coffee, it probably goes without saying, is all roasted by Orozco in Cafecito Orgánico's roasting plant, now located in Torrance.
The three have hired Alexandra LittleJohn (Green Bliss, Portola Coffee Lab), who will manage the O.C. Cafecito Orgánico, to train the baristas in all of the shops. In fact, everyone can not only pull a great shot but also can disassemble the espresso machines, a useful skill in a machine-driven industry. “We've all been trained to take them apart. We could probably build a submarine if we needed to.”
In addition to the coffee, the Malibu shop has pastries from Rustico Foods, but that's about it. “I don't want to do food; there's so much good food here,” says Hale. “There's no point.”
As for the sudden expansion, Hale says it's not really so sudden — this has been in the works for some time — but that they “didn't really plan any of this.” Maybe blame the excellent coffee. If you've ever been caught on the PCH for any length of time without a well-pulled espresso (or any good coffee at all), you can now get in the car with the happy knowledge that there is relief in Malibu.
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