I'll never forget the first time I peered through the window the soon to be opened MARU
It was still under construction, I could barely see through the taped off windows - but what I saw was a beautiful wood counter with a pour-over station. And that's the moment I knew that something good was coming to our neighborhood of Los Feliz.
MARU opened the doors of their first location in September 2016. And since then, my family and I have become regulars. It's hard not to be when I can walk there - from our door in about 30 seconds. My daughter and I will sometimes walk over, after picking her up from kindergarten for an after school treat, along with her favorite drink, a small cup of milk.
But there's one thing that you may notice, the photos that accompany this feature were not captured at our neighborhood location. No, these are all taken at the Arts District location that opened in March of 2018. I have featured the Los Feliz location on my Instagram account numerous times. It has also appeared in both photos and videos for AM Weekly and Coffee Adventures with Dad.
I chose the Arts District location because as a photographer, it is as perfect a subject as one can ask. It's open floor and ceiling just beg for the sun to shine in on them from their large scale windows. And the coffee bar is so beautifully executed in its layout and design. I could shoot there for days.
Since my shoot there, Jacob Mk Park and his partners have converted their office space into a roastery. As of a few months back, they are now serving their own coffee. And it's good! I've bought a few bags for myself.
I sat down with Jacob a while back to record an interview to accompany this feature. It was a profoundly moving conversation about how he quit school at the age of 16 and started working various coffee jobs. How he saved a large amount of money to open his first shop, but then had to use it to help someone else - thus, starting all over. About his early days of working at various coffee shops in Koreatown. Lastly, the story of how he came about finding his first location in Los Feliz.
Sadly, I will never have the chance to transcribe that conversation. Even though I saved and renamed the voice memo on my phone immediately after, it was gone when I went to look for it later.
That sucked. Even more, it was embarrassing to have to tell Jacob since he gave so graciously of his time. Thankfully, he was understanding of the situation.
Since then, I have started the practice of immediately emailing myself a copy of the voice memo as a back up so that I will never have that happen again.
Americano Mondays, as a platform and brand, has evolved over the past seven years. The one thing that has never changed is my passion for telling the stories of people with a passion for coffee through various forms of expression.
I felt the need to be transparent about losing the voice memo because this is now part of my story. I allowed a technical mishap to hold me back from releasing this feature for far too long, due to it not feeling 'perfect.' And that's not acceptable.
Even though this may not have an in-depth story about the origins of MARU - I still feel that it is worthy of sharing. Especially after revising the images - WOW - these are some beautiful images that I am very proud of capturing. As well as, I am thankful to everyone featured that gave of their time.