When we last left Verve Coffee Roasters, the Santa Cruz - based coffee roaster had plans to open a roastery here in L.A., though it was keeping (wisely) mum on the details. Now, happily, there are considerably more specifics: Not only will Verve open a roastery in the Arts District downtown but it also will open two cafes, one in the Fashion District, the other in West Hollywood. "We care about coffee, and we care about neighborhoods," says Ryan O'Donovan who, with Colby Barr, founded the company. "Our goal in L.A. is to be part of the community."
Which is not to say that Verve isn't already part of the community, in a way. If you drink a copious amount of coffee here, as many of us do, you might recall seeing bags of Verve at shops and restaurants across the city (Single Origin, FIX, République, among others). And if you've wandered into Vibiana lately, you may have caught Verve serving coffee out of a nifty cart there in the courtyard. Officially opening a cafe (or three) at this point seems almost a formality.
Each Verve shop, O'Donovan says, will be unique to its neighborhood, because what feels right in the industrial section of downtown L.A. is no doubt different from what feels right in West Hollywood. The shops will share the same commitment to quality, coffee and service.
Verve's first location will open midsummer in downtown's Fashion District, a collaborative project with partners Studio MAI and Juice Served Here. Together, the three will share an open, loftlike space, with Verve's cafe occupying about 1,800 square feet. The outpost will be helmed by 2012 and 2013 Northwest Regional Barista Champion Devin Chapman. "It's going to be incredible," O'Donovan says.
In contrast, the West Hollywood location — O'Donovan and Barr are quiet (again, wisely) on the details about its exact location — will be "straight up Verve," as O'Donovan puts it, a stand-alone cafe with, they hope, outdoor seating. That spot is expected to open this fall.
And last, perhaps the piece de resistance: Verve's roastery and cafe will open in 2015 in the Arts District. This will be a "good-sized" space tentatively planned to have an open layout of sorts, not unlike an open kitchen. "We want people to see what we do firsthand," O'Donovan says.
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And there you have it: three new Verve shops, with the first but a few months away. Until that first one opens, you can do far worse than to wander into Vibiana's absurdly pleasant garden courtyard on a weekday between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. when Verve is pulling the shots on its nifty coffee cart. If, after drinking that shot of that cup of the roaster's Streetlevel espresso and chatting with the nice barista there, you suddenly become very eager to see a full-scale Verve shop in action, you won't be the only one looking forward to the cafes.
"L.A.'s been good to us," O'Donovan says. "We're excited."