Downtown’s already-brimming artisanal bean scene welcomes Handsome Coffee Roasters, the new java joint in the Arts District from three top local Intelligentsia defectors

Angeleno, October 2011

Handsome Coffee Roasters

CAFFEINE FIENDS! From left: Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and Chris Owens in downtown L.A.

Downtown’s already-brimming artisanal bean scene—home to Groundwork, CoffeeBar, Urth Caffé and more—this month welcomes Handsome Coffee Roasters (582 Mateo St., L.A., 213.612.4194, handsomecoffee.com), the new java joint in the Arts District from three top local Intelligentsia defectors. Michael Phillips, Tyler Wells and Chris Owens—all in their early 30s—are strict constructionists of the caffeine constitution: They believe in no substitutions and only offer whole milk. That means no crowd-pleasing nonfat or low-fat dairy options, no sugar and absolutely no ancillary offerings like, say, tea. “Our model isn’t based on foot traffic,” says an unrepentant Wells. “It’s not based on quick service or people dropping in to grab a cup of coffee. It’s a destination.”

The coffee bar’s interior will boast a “clean, comfortable, modern 1950s factory bive” with lots of copper accents and white subway tile, as well as a floor-to-ceiling glass wall where customers can sit and watch the coffee being roasted on the other side. Plenty of seating will be available, but don’t expect any Wi-Fi. (“We’re not looking to be an office,” says Phillips, who in 2010 became the first American to win the World Barista Championship, held in London.) So why call the business Handsome? “It’s a name that makes us think of the Craftsman era, when things were made by hand and machines were functional and also beautiful. It makes me think of skilled carpenters and manly crafts,” says Wells, before joking: “Also, we’re incredibly good-looking.” —Alexis Johnson

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