As a photographer, you continuously search for intriguing subjects to photograph. It’s that search that drives you. And I can honestly say that Mr Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda is that type of subject.

Nicely, as he is known by most, is a permanent fixture in the coffee scene – and not just in Los Angeles. He got his start at Espresso Vivace in Seattle where he was mentored by Brian Fairbrother and David Schomer. Since moving to Los Angeles he has worked as a barista at shops ranging from Intelligentsia to Handsome Coffee Roasters.

And if thats not enough…he’s also a 3 time Latte’ Art champion.

Menotti’s is his baby but that’s not to say he didn’t have some help along the way. Derek Taylor introduced him to the owners of the property, Louie & Netty Ryan and together they crafted what became Menotti’s. They opened the doors in October of 2013 in arguably one of the coolest spots in town. They are right next to Venice Beach on Pacific Ave.

And did I mentioned the story of how they decided upon the name for the shop? In 1915, Ceaser Menotti opened a bar in this location. But when prohibition came about in 1920 he converted his establishment to a ‘buffet’ and ran a speakeasy in his downstairs basement. Hauling liquor as far as DTLA. Diggin’ on the parallels between alcohol and coffee, Nicely and the Ryan’s decided to use Menotti’s name. And Im glad they did.

The core themes that I have found during my time with this series are Craft and Community. And what I dig about Menotti’s and Nicely is that they perfectly exemplify those two elements of coffee culture. To say Nicely is continuously honing his craft as a barista is an understatement. And to see the Venice community welcome him with open arms is a freakin’ beautiful thing.