Silver Lake is a hot spot for coffee — there's Intelligentsia, of course, Dinosaur Coffee and a forthcoming branch of La Colombe, a Philly-based roaster that plans to open inside the former Casbah Café space.
Then there's Counter Culture Coffee, a North Carolina–based roaster that's expanding its West Coast footprint after opening a massive roasting facility in Emeryville last year. But what Counter Culture is bringing to Silver Lake later this spring is no retail coffee shop. Instead, the company is opening a training and educational facility next door to El Condor, which will serve as a resource for local coffee shops looking to serve Counter Culture beans. Housed inside a restored art deco building near the Sunset Triangle (designed by Design, Bitches), the space will provide room for tutorials on pour-over coffee and espresso drinks, as well as technical assistance on equipment.
“The idea is to have a place for connecting and learning about coffee that any of our wholesale clients can access,” says Jesse Kahn, Counter Culture's national sales manager and head of training center development. Kahn says the expansion into Los Angeles has long been in the works, and opening a community-centered space in Silver Lake made perfect sense. “You'd be hard-pressed to find a city with more variety,” Kahn says. “The coffee boom that has happened over the past few years has been amazing.”
Unlike many roasters, Counter Culture focuses strictly on wholesale, meaning you won't be able to walk into their new facility and grab a cup. Instead, the company's training centers — there are currently 10 locations across the country, with more planned in cities including Seattle and Miami — serve as a hub of coffee geekery for baristas and coffee pros, a space for special events and a brand launching pad for Counter Culture, which was founded in 1995 and is one of the main pioneers in developing the direct-trade model of coffee sourcing.
So what does this mean for the average coffee drinker? Aside from the fact that Kahn hopes to eventually have Coffee Culture's coffee served at “the best coffeeshop in any given neighborhood,” one potential draw for locals is the company's “Tastings at 10,” an informal coffee tasting that is open to the public every Friday at 10 a.m. and allows attendees to taste coffees for free.
“It started out as an internal company thing, but it's expanded into a fun way to welcome people in our training centers,” Kahn says. “There's a theme every week. We taste between one and four coffees, maybe the same coffee brewed a few different ways, and then we talk about them. Sometimes we taste coffees that we don't sell, [solely] for the sake of education.”
Counter Culture Training Center, 1601 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake; counterculturecoffee.com.