Undergrind Cafe on Robertson is not quite the third-wave coffee shop that showcases caffeinated craft from bean to brew. Instead, flavored lattes are co-owner Rachel Sazon's pursuit.

“I love flavored lattes,” says Sazon, who chose an espresso from Stumptown as her base. “Whenever I get them though, they’re always cloyingly sweet. I wanted to stay away from that.” There are 10 drinks that are currently available on the menu, including Tiger Island (chocolate, coconut, chai and espresso) and Purple Rain (lavender and vanilla bean). A few more end up on the daily specials, such as gingerbread or apple pie chai. “I wanted something strong, but mellow at the same time. It’s not so mild to where you only taste the flavor of the drink and not the actual espresso.”

Beyond lattes, Rachel and her co-owner (and husband), Ron, are also crafting a greater sense of community in a part of Beverlywood that's more likely to be clogged with cars than people. “It’s a learning process,” she says.

The couple opened their cafe in December after spending roughly a year transforming the former medical supply store into a place fit for food. They began looking for a space around downtown in early 2013, but switched focus to Beverlywood, close to where Rachel grew up.

“This whole community is so big. It’s weird not to have something like this here,” she says.

A peanut butter cup latte at Undergrind Cafe; Credit: Christine Chiao

A peanut butter cup latte at Undergrind Cafe; Credit: Christine Chiao

The neighborhood agreed. Last July, the Sazons turned to Kickstarter to help with financing a new hood system. They set the crowdfunding deadline at three weeks and easily met their goal, with a large portion of the funds donated by their soon-to-be neighbors.

Before opening Undergrind, the couple co-managed Novel Cafe downtown, discovering just how well they worked as a team and carrying their dynamic over to their new shop. Ron brings structure, from budgets to scheduling, honed through a previous career in corporate marketing.  

“Everything I don’t do well, he does well,” says Rachel, who focuses more on design. She is also the more experimental one with food.

Because of Rachel you can opt for a pat of butter in your morning cup of coffee and you might see kale — and not paté — in your made-to-order banh mi. The menu is in its early stages, says Rachel, who has plans to add more to it as she and Ron acquaint the neighborhood with the cafe.

Undergrind Cafe, 2713 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverlywood; (310) 730-6392; undergrindcafe.com

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