Pret-a-Reporter

The Eat Sheet: Buzzed-About New Java Joint Handsome Coffee Roasters Opens in L.A.

The small-batch shop in the downtown Arts District brewed by three Intelligentsia alums wants to be an active neighborhood social hub: “It’s not where you write the screenplay, it’s where you sell it.”

Handsome Coffee Roasters is the latest in L.A.’s new wave of hardcore bean dispensaries, where the cups are brewed by competition-winning baristas and the coffeemakers available for purchase only bear the label Chemex. This week it officially hangs its shingle in the industrial Arts District of downtown, not too far from the flagship location of Urth Caffe.

Handsome will sell its limited array of coffees, which are roasted on-site, as well as a select few baked goods from Proof in Atwater Village, at the 3,500-square-foot property. Their modus operandi is a dramatically streamlined menu, executed memorably well: In-N-Out ethos meets the java joint.

The trio behind the effort is Tyler Wells, Michael Phillips and Chris Owens, all vets of various branches of Intelligentsia, the lodestar of the local superior-sip scene that sniffs at Starbucks. At Handsome, they’ve laid down their law: No nonfat or low-fat dairy choices, no sweeteners, and certainly nothing that might suggest mission creep, like tea. “We have a very specific niche,” says Phillips. “We’re not for everybody and we don’t want to be.”

Also not part of the Handsome plan? Offering WiFi to customers. “We don’t have Internet,” says Wells. “Come and chat for a bit – pop in for some social interaction and have your day brightened. The focus here is on the coffee and the conversation. It’s an active space.” Adds Phillips, noting that the partners are uninterested in running the cliché of a cozy, library-like coffeehouse: “It’s not where you write the screenplay, it’s where you sell it.” 

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