Handsome Coffee Roasters

It is with great happiness that I am able to include Handsome Coffee Roasters to this series. 

And just in time. For there are some not so minor changes happening at this well respected, speciality coffee shop. One that helped bring new life to the Los Angeles Arts District.

But let’s back up a couple of years.

I had originally heard of Handsome through a friend of mine who had been a roommate of one of the original founders, Tyler Wells. He kept telling me I should check out this new cafe that was being built out in the DTLA Arts District. Here’s a few things that you notice as you walk in:

  • A beautifully designed layout with an open floor plan, tall ceilings and large windows.
  • Oh cool, I can see the roasting facilities through that glass wall. Dig that.
  • Wow, these are some friendly people. Impressive.
  • Dang, are those the only items on the menu? Nice.

Their esthetic for simplicity in design is carried through in their menu selection as well. To some, this can be a turn off. To others, as myself, I love it. It’s the approach that says, this is what we do and we do it well. We’re a speciality coffee shop. Period.

During that initial visit, I was in line behind a gentleman that didn’t understand the difference between espresso and brewed coffee drinks. Having worked at a coffee shop at the beginning of my career and having visited numerous others over the years, I was intrigued to see how the barista would respond. Especially since the stigma of speciality coffee is for having a ‘too cool for school‘ mentality. And if not for their strong emphasis on Hospitality and Accessibility this could have gone in a different direction. Yet, instead of belittling him, she walked him through the different methods and even had him sample a bit of each so that he could taste the difference. That was freakin’ impressive and made me a fan before I had even tried their coffee.

Head barista, Christine, working her latte art skills on a 10 ounce. She recently competed in the Big Western Barista Competition.

Handsome Coffee Roasters was originally founded by three individuals: Michael Phillips, Chris Owens and Tyler Wells. All of them were well known in the field of coffee even before they opened the doors in February of 2012.

Michael Phillips, 2014.

Having won the US Barista Competition in 2009 and 2010, Mr Phillips was the first American to also win the World Barista Competition in 2010. Tyler Wells was the GM of the Intelligentsia in Pasadena and before that had worked at Frank in Austin. Chris Owens had worked in numerous shops in multiple states for the likes of Gimme Coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, Ritual Roasters and Intelligentsia. In their short time on the map they’ve generated some serious respect in the coffee industry.

Handsome holds weekly cupping events.

Modifications Politely Declined Happening

Over the past six to twelve months there have been some rather large changes at Handsome Coffee Roasters. Both Tyler Wells and Chris Owens have stepped away from their partnership roles and moved onto other endeavors. Tyler recently opened Blacktop Coffee and Chris Owens founded Hilux Coffee.

And in April of this year, it was announced that they were bought out my Blue Bottle Coffee. An Oakland, CA based coffee company that’s got some serious cash behind it and is taking over the map. Michael Phillips will be staying on with the shop and will see his role grow into a training position within Blue Bottle as they expand and open more shops in the Los Angeles market.

Handsome Coffee is a true representation of the “Third Wave” coffee movement. From the sourcing to the roasting to the presentation, the care and attention that is placed in all aspects of the experience are exceptional. In the end, coffee culture is defined by the people that surround it. And when you come across a group of people that are truly passionate, not only about coffee but the experience you have while drinking it, I’m down with that.