Bar Nine

Culver City based Bar Nine is like a freakin’ science lab for coffee nerds who “geek out over extraction.”

Bar Nine was founded by Zayde Naquib in late 2013 but it wasn’t until early 2014 before they were ‘officially’ open due to some crazy zoning and permitting issues. But they didn’t let that stop their growth and in turn used that time to host some events, introduce themselves to the community and dial in their crazy cool Mod Bar. Looking back, Zayde tells me that,

Patience is the thing that I’ve had to learn most of all.
The Bar Nine team

The Bar Nine team

Upon entering, you’ll notice that they have embraced the concept of an open space environment. Their floor plan allows for a full viewing of not only their roasting facility but also their offices in the back.

It all begins though with their beautifully wood crafted, espresso and pour over Mod Bar. A uniquely designed, under the counter pressure-profiling system with a minimal footprint on the top counter. I had never seen one of these until I fist visited Bar Nine. Adam from The LA Coffee Club and I met there shortly after they opened and upon entering I was seriously looking around thinking, ‘where are they freakin’ hiding the espresso machine?’

I can see why Zayde chose to go with this method over a standard machine. If the whole concept of creating an open space is to encourage collaboration and interactions, then why not start from the first experience a guest has with their barista.

That said, I do love a beautifully designed espresso machine. So if any cafes are transitioning to this system and have an extra La Marzocco just sitting around. Hit me up…

I loved seeing that the glass walls surrounding the offices that are full of dry erase, hand written notes. That’s a practice I’ve maintained for years at my own studio. I’m a firm believer that brainstorming deserves to take up as much space as it so desires.

I also love that they’re not hiding their process in back rooms. It’s there for everyone to see that this is an organic, evolving operation.

But this year, everything has been clicking….We want to provide as rich and full of an experience as possible. We want people to hang out with us. That’s the main difference between our business model retail wise versus a lot of other people. It’s not based on volume or getting people in an out as quickly as possible. It’s based on keeping people here and giving them a better experience. I’d rather have people here for an hour than five minutes. (Zayde Nibuib)

They’ve recently developed a food menu based solely off of the feedback and desires of their customers. I dig that mind set that allows you to remain open while still holding onto your identity. Even though his original plan didn’t include taking on a team of chefs or building out a kitchen, he listened to his community. Yet he also understood that to maintain the quality he desired it would need to be handled in house.

Our core values of what we care about have always stayed the same. But how we expressed that to our guests has changed based on what they want. That’s something that we’ve really paid close attention to. We want to create an experience that’s right for our guests while still staying true to what we set out to do. And I think we’re doing that really well. I’m proud of the effort we’ve put into it. (Zayde Naquib)
We tasted this one coffee, and there was this moment where you realize it’s totally awesome and you haven’t had anything that good in a while and then you start freaking out trying to figure out how you can get this right now. (James Klapp)

The heart of their business is their coffee roasting program. And I loved watching both Mitchell Tellstrom and James Klapp do their thing. These dudes are like mad scientists when it comes to their process. Constantly cupping and searching for that elusive cup of coffee is a daily ritual for them. Both spoke of how they’ve learned from each other. And I can see how being a team has not only benefited them as individuals but the quality of the Bar Nine coffee program as a whole.

We started taking density measurements of our coffee’s and we found that the one’s that we thought were the least dense were actually more dense than the ones that we thought we’re historically always dense. So we made the adjustments accordingly and it totally fixed the things we didn’t like about the coffee’s. (James Klapp)

It’s great to see that they’re not simply falling into a repetitive motion. They strive to continuously make their coffee better.

The feeling of knowing that something I do and help produce with this team ends up getting consumed by a good number of people. Knowing that I’ve had a hand in making someone a cup of coffee a little bit better at least. (Mitchell Tellstrom)

James explained that he was trying to listen for the when the first crack was happening. That’s one of the main events that happens in the roast.




Both Zayde and I share a philosophy of surrounding yourself with a team of people who won’t settle or stop pushing themselves in their craft. That’s especially important when you’re relying on them to consistently push out a quality product for your customers, whoever they may be.

I dig that desire to rock out something great. I need that. We all need that.