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Handsome Coffee

Award-winning barista skills and ace design make this java joint an L.A. Arts District destination.

Interview By John Dugan, April 12, 2013

We've been spending our fair share of time in Los Angeles lately and have, as it happens, gotten to know the city's best coffee outposts. In particular, we wanted to find out more about the aptly dubbed and nicely designed Handsome Coffee, also a roaster that sells around the city of angels, so we made some inquiries and got some great feedback from Handsome Coffee Roasters Co-founder Michael Phillips, who also happens to be the 2010 World Barista Champion, or champeen if you prefer.

Photos by Michael A. Muller


For those of us who haven't been, what's the L.A. Arts District like?
The arts district is an amazing community of people interested in the good things in life but not afraid to expand their definition of what that can be. From artists to bankers the defining characteristic is that they were drawn to the unique and slightly adventurous feel the Arts District has to offer.

Why was it a good location for Handsome Coffee Roasters?
First off it meets our need for roasting coffee. Our coffee bar is in the same space where we actually roast all of our coffee and you need the right zoning to do roasting. Aside from that though, we have a slightly more adventurous model for a coffee shop and we were in search of an audience that would be open to exploring something different. Everyone there has been super receptive and supportive. 

What's the clientele like?
It is really a broad range. The Arts District has a ton of live-work spaces which attract many professional artists from the fields of design, fashion, wood, and metal working, etc… but those spaces also cater to mechanics and musicians. Add to that the fact that there are so many beautiful spaces and we have financial people, downtown business folks, and many more. The common denominator is liking that the area has a grit and character to it that is not very polished but still beautiful to us.

I like the look of the space. It looks like it has a bit of an industrial, modern feel. Who designed it?
The space was designed by Woodsmithe. They did an amazing job of understanding who we were as a brand and translating that into a set of materials and space. 

How much coffee are you roasting on daily basis?
We roast four days a week Sunday through Wednesday for accounts across the country. The number varies a bit but it is certainly more than I had expected so soon.

Where does your coffee come from?
Coffee is like any other crop and has a season of production and harvest. Our lineup is curated from countries the have most recently harvested their crop so that we can offer our customers fresh, lively, and delicious beans. Currently we have coffee from Guatemala, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Rwanda on our shelves but that will change up again before too long.

What else is available there and what's the most popular?
We keep our offerings pretty simple so as far as drinks go we have brewed coffee, espresso, and milk drinks, and iced versions. Aside from that, some great baked goods, brewing equipment, and some shirts to spread the Handsome love. I'd say our most popular drink is the 5 oz espresso and milk. 

Where else can someone procure Handsome coffee?
We sell to good establishments all across the country. Here in Los Angeles, however, there are a good handful to pick from. Deus Ex Machina does a tremendous job on the West side, Cognoscenti Coffee can be found pulling our beans, a ton of great restaurants from Ink to Red Medicine to tasting pitch and Parish… there are a lot of great spots we feel so lucky to work with.

The coffee packaging is great, who's responsible for that?
We have a great design team we work with named Ptarmak and they are out of Austin, Texas. Just like Woodsmithe, they reached out to get a true understanding of who we were and what we wanted to do. True talents.  

As if Handsome Coffee wasn't already in our good book, the roaster now offers Nudie denim aprons in the Handsome logo. Order Handsome Coffee online at HandsomeCoffee.com.