Most law school career service offices will tell you that a Juris Doctor degree is an invaluable life passport. “This is really open doors for you. You'll be able to do almost anything,” they boast in the glossy admissions packets. Tell that to Bobak Roshan, owner of soon-to-open Demitasse, whose hard-earned J.D. isn't quite the carte blanche that was promised to him and all other 1Ls on their first day of school. “Class action securities law was easier than trying to figure out how many parking spots I need for my coffee shop,” he said recently, laughing-slash-lamenting about the general difficulties of navigating the labyrinth of regulations, local laws, and ordinances that stymie many an entrepreneur trying to open a shop in L.A.
When Roshan finally figures out that parking situation and opens (hopefully) sometime during the week of July 10th, his Demitasse will offer high quality coffee, stripped of anything, including arrogant baristas and pesky, time-consuming, inconsistent pour-over coffees, that might distract you from enjoying that perfect cup of joe.
Roshan graduated from USC's Gould School of Law in 2008 (full disclosure: this blogger also graduated from that law school a year earlier, in 2007). Post-law school, he did what most law school grads did: he slaved away as a junior associate at a law firm. For a time, he also hung his own shingle as a solo practitioner. No matter what he did, though, he ultimately found the practice of law to be “boring, boring, boring.” The only exciting part was coming to the office to share his love for coffee with his co-workers, going so far as bringing a grinder to the office kitchen and devoting valuable non-billable time to discussing different beans and perfect grinds.
Roshan initially figured he would parlay his love for coffee into a café sometime after he was done practicing, a would-be labor of love to focus on during his retirement years. Needless to say, the work-hard-play-later mentality is not characteristic of this Facebook generation, and Roshan wisely decided to save his sanity and try doing something he actually liked. He moved his retirement plan up a few decades and spent about a year hunting for the perfect coffee shop, ultimately settling on a space previously vacated by a frozen yogurt shop in Little Tokyo.
Even as he's dealing with construction woes – the interior has been completely gutted and revamped – Roshan is excited about the location, observing that it is situated at a perfect “crossroads” of cultures and community.
Demitasse's beans will be sourced from San Rafael's Equator Coffees, which Roshan praises for its consistent quality and excellent company ethos. In addition, City Bean will be the first of a rotating roster of featured local roasters. Cups will be brewed individually in either a siphon filter or in a Clever full-immersion coffee dripper.
Notably absent from the above two choices is an option to have a cup brewed the ever-popular pour-over style, the favorite of many a third-wave coffee shop. This omission is not so much a business decision as it is an unequivocal statement: Roshan adamantly is against the method as far too dependent on the skills and utmost attention of the barista, too often to the detriment of the coffee drinker looking to have the cleanest, tastiest cup possible. For consistency of brew, Roshan says, the Clever dripper – which uses a nifty automatic stopper to allow a barista to pour water into a filtercone all at once without worrying about overextracting the coffee – is quicker and far superior than the pour-over.
Roshan plans other twists to the traditional third-wave coffee shop. Iced coffee will be made using the cold-brew and Kyoto methods, the latter of which is a painstakingly slow, drip-by-drip, 6+ hours process popularized by San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee. The coffee will be served in classic sake bottles that ingeniously hold ice cubes separate from the coffee itself, so all the hard work and time that went into making the iced coffee will not be diluted into a watery mass. Seasonal drinks also will be on the menu; an espresso mojito (a shot of espresso with mint, over ice) is planned for the summer.
On the food side, Roshan is focused on sweets. A special chocolate and coffee menu, with truffles from West LA chocolatier Compartes paired specially with coffee drinks, will be the cafe's highlight. Desserts from other local purveyors, including Jin Patisserie, Cake Monkey, and fellow law school classmate-turned-contestant on Gordon Ramsey's MasterChef, Esther Kang and her Batch from Scratch bakery, also will be offered.
Roshan will preview his coffee skills tonight from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Human Rights Watch's Art with a Heart event at the Barker Block Breezeway downtown. His café will open just a few short weeks after tonight. And after that, Roshan already is thinking about where he would like to open the cafe's second location. Isn't that putting the cart miles before the horse? Roshan grinned. “I'm a lawyer,” he said. “I'm always thinking ahead.” Touché.