City Bean Coffee, the Los Angeles coffee company that Sol Salzer began in 1992 as a small retail shop in Westwood Village, last Monday quietly opened the doors of its newly renovated micro-roastery on Jefferson Boulevard. The location, previously home to a cabinet maker, now houses City Bean's restored 1926 Probat roaster (bought from Starbucks and, according to Salzer, the oldest of its kind still in operation) and a R&D cupping room where the staff brews experimental cups of Flores Bajawa Ngura and Sulawesi Sapan Minanga.
Salzer does not warehouse his coffee, but roasts it -- he estimates he roasts about 2,500-3,000 lbs. a week -- to order, which coffee geeks can now benefit from through City Bean's new wholesale-to-the-public program. Each day's coffee selections, sold in one and five pound bags and priced 30-50% off retail, are tweeted out (@citybeancoffee) and posted on the company's Facebook page.
And if you go to the roastery, be sure to ask to see the roaster: Salzer and his kids, neither of whom are old enough to drink their dad's coffee, painted a huge yellow submarine on the wall. (The portals are windows into the roasting room.) No, you can't buy copies of Beatles CDs with your beans; it'sSalzer's daughter's favorite song.
"We've been flying under the radar," says Salzer. "We figured it was time to re-emerge."
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City Bean Coffee: 5051 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles; (323) 734-0828.