Jack Benchakul helms Cognoscenti Coffee's pop-up stop in the Scoops ice cream shop in Chinatown, but in about a week, he'll shut down the pop-up and begin making coffee at his very own place, Endorffeine.
For those whose daily routine includes Benchakul's makrut lime and malbec cold-brew lattes, worry not: He's not going far. Endorffeine will be located right next to Scoops.
Benchakul hopes to soft open Endorffeine on Saturday, subject to, of course, the vicissitudes of the permitting process and last-minute details. When it does open, Endorffeine will join Chimney Coffee — which opened a few years ago on Main Street in the same plaza that houses the Thai super-supermarket LAX-C — as a specialty coffee option in the neighborhood.
Benchakul is excited about opening in Chinatown. "I welcome the opportunity to be part of the new Chinatown," he says, adding that before he popped up at Scoops, he had just returned from a trip to Thailand. Far East Plaza "really feels like a food market in Thailand, where all the food vendors are gathered around in one central area," he says. "I like that feel."
Inside Endorffeine, you'll find seating around a zinc countertop U-shaped bar. You won't find an espresso machine on the counter; rather, Benchakul is installing a Modbar system, with much of the machinery located under the counter, out of sight from the consumer. In fact, the only components visible are the faucet-like "taps" where espresso shots are pulled and water is dispensed for pourover coffee. The idea being, you'll be able to better see the barista pull the shot, pour the milk, make the coffee.
"People often still think an espresso machine as a modified vending machine of some sort," Benchakul says. "In my experience, people are still surprised at how espresso drinks are made, and what goes into an espresso drink. Hopefully, this will shed some light on that."
Other than the taps of the Modbar and two grinders, there won't be much else on the counter. It will be as clutter-free as some would like their office desks to be.
The shop itself will have textures throughout, with wood and metal chairs, concrete floors and a semi-transparent partition sheathed in polygal, a material often used in greenhouses. In general, Benchakul hopes to create, as he puts it, a "quiet and calm" space.
"I'm not trying to create a monastery-like setting," he says. "Just a space that's a respite from the hustle and bustle that's going on outside" in the plaza, on Broadway, on Hill.
As to what you'll drink here, you can expect to find much of the same menu that he's been serving at Scoops, plus perhaps one or two more seasonal signature drinks. Benchakul will serve coffee from Heart Coffee Roasters, as well as from a second roaster that will rotate from time to time.
Teas will come from Wing Hop Fung, the two-story tea and herb emporium located just a few steps away in the plaza. And of course there will be toasts: specifically, brioche toasts with housemade jams. Open-faced sandwiches will be available too.
After the shop gets off the ground, Benchakul — who went to culinary school after all — also plans to use the space for monthly prix-fixe suppers, where he'll cook up vegetarian, three-course meals featuring Thai flavors. Coffee and tea may pop up as ingredients, but overall Benchakul sees the dinners as a chance to take a break from his coffee duties and exercise his cooking skills. Well, that and "I didn't want the culinary school to go to waste," he says. The dinners will be called "11," after the number of seats available for each dinner.
Endorffeine's anticipated hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Endorffeine, 727 N. Broadway (in Far East Plaza), Chinatown. You can follow Benchakul's progress on his Instagram account, instagram.com/endorffeine.