Evoking the glamour of modern Mexico City, Compañía de Café in San Fernando will celebrate its grand opening Friday. Compañía de Café serves specialty coffee drinks and aguas frescas along with savory and sweet pastries, all with Mexican flavors and flair.
Chef Tamara Davis fills the pastry case with empanadas, cajeta alfajores and fruit-flavored paletas. Tile cookies feature the blue Talavera pattern found throughout the space. The Libra vanilla pound cakes layered with dark chocolate mole are topped with white nonpareils. Davis swirls peaks of frosting onto the bite-sized mango, rose and gaunabana cupcakes. A large window offers customers the chance to watch the action in the kitchen where the baking teams starts each day at 3 a.m.
Flanked by a massive blue-and-white tile mural, the coffee bar anchors the center of the room with baristas at the ready next to a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine. Percy Ramirez, previously at Intelligentsia and G&B Coffee, runs the coffee program and crafted the menu.
Ramirez chose two roasters for Compañía de Café, Forty Ninth Parallel for espresso drinks and George Howell for brewed coffees. Ramirez also has a Mod Bar set up to prepare single origin offerings. Known for using unique ingredients such as peach Haribo gummies in his signature espresso drinks at barista competitions when he was competing for his home country Guatemala, Ramirez serves both classic espresso drinks as well as the Mocha Diablo with house-made chocolate ganache, chile de arbol and chipotle. The coffee menu features refreshing caifanes ("cool dudes"), a carbonated cold brew infused with agua de jamaica or tamarindo.
With the goal of creating a coffee shop and café that would become part of the fabric of the neighborhood, owner Gaby Arvizu oversees a staff of 60 employees. “We want to make the specialty coffee world approachable to the community,” explains Arvizu. And “Percy captures the culture that I am going for. Besides being super talented Percy is a warm person ... so that customers feel that they are part of the family.”
As for the attention to detail and vibrant café space, Arvizu and the designers were inspired by a book about Frida Kahlo. From the pop of bright pink to the oxidized mirror behind the pastry case, the design elements celebrate Mexican American culture. Above the coffee bar, hanging globe pendant lights are decorated with silver luchador masks.
The ceramic tiles, cups and plates were designed in Los Angeles and made in Guadalajara. The coffee bar tile mural, designed by graphic artist Rebeca Mendez, took over a year to create. Images on the tile range from details of photos of coffee making equipment to traditional characters that span from almost all white to dark blue hues. Artwork by Chicano artist Daniel Gonzalez can be found on the aprons, coasters and throughout the tile wall. The white counter has a subtle version of the Talavera pattern with phrases in Spanish and English conveying love for coffee. “It’s been amazing to see the reception by the community,” says Arvizu. “This building had been vacant for over 10 years.”
Compañía de Café celebrates its grand opening Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. All proceeds from the sales that day will benefit Youth Speak! Collective, a local nonprofit.
The second location for Compañía de Café will begin construction soon and open in South Gate later this year.
110 N. Maclay Ave., San Fernando, (747) 500-7102.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times