Happy Monday, especially if you live or work in Northeast Los Angeles and love coffee. Today, two specialty coffee shops — Tierra Mia in Highland Park and Found Coffee in Eagle Rock — are now open and brewing terrific cups of joe. The latest places to get caffeinated:
Tierra Mia has come quite a long way since opening in South Gate in 2008. In the last seven years, the specialty coffee company and roaster has opened several shops throughout Los Angeles, plus two in the San Francisco Bay Area. And today brings yet one more: it's 10th, to be exact, nestled comfortably on Monte Vista at Avenue 56 in Highland Park. Not only is this newest Tierra Mia outpost a nice addition to the neighborhood, it's also especially convenient for owner Ulysses Romero, who happens to live just down the street.
Tierra Mia moved into a space that most recently housed an ice cream and juice shop. Romero made a few changes here and there to convert it into a cafe, adding a fresh layer of paint and decorating the walls with beautiful hand-painted tiles from Mexico. And then there was, of course, the installation of the proper machinery, including a sleek Strada machine where espressos are pulled for drinks such as Americanos, cappuccinos, horchata lattes and Mexican mochas. There's also a line of V60 cones on the counter for pourovers, with a menu nearby that, at the moment, features coffees from Ethiopia and Colombia, plus a rare coffee from Panama's much lauded Hacienda La Esmeralda.
In addition to roasting its own beans, Tierra Mia also makes its own pastries at its bakery in Lynwood and delivers them here, meaning you can have, say, fresh tres leches muffins alongside your coffee. And given that this was once an ice cream shop after all, and that Romero inherited some equipment from the previous owner, it only makes sense that he's thinking about stocking up on some ice creams. Because coffee and ice cream is a pretty winning combination, whether rain is in the forecast or not.
As Tierra Mia Highland Park gets off the ground and his company as a whole grows, Romero is also starting to find ways "to have an impact beyond selling a cup of coffee." To that end, he's started a foundation, Tierra Mia Cares, which has partnered with Families in Schools to support its child literacy programs. And in the Carmo de Minas region of Brazil where the company sources some of its coffees, Tierra Mia is working with an organization, Cria Carmo, to support its after-school programs for low-income youth.
"I feel that we have a responsibility to the communities that we're in," Romero says. "As we get bigger, I want to do something meaningful. I want to elevate the quality of coffee, build a company where my employees are proud to work and provide a product that they're proud to represent."
Tierra Mia is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. 5528 Monte Vista St., Highland Park, tierramiacoffee.com.
Finding Found Coffee isn't too difficult: a stone's throw from the neighborhood Trader Joe's, it's a bright, airy shop in a small plaza (with parking!) on the eastern edge of Eagle Rock on Colorado Boulevard. The conceit here goes beyond the idea of coffee shop as hidden treasure: Owner Annie Choi says much of Found is outfitted with upcycled, thrift store discoveries (thus the charmingly mismatched plates), and there's also the fact that coffee shops, like Harry Potter conventions, are the sort of spaces that tend to draw folks together. Indeed, bringing together a community is "what I loved about working at Demitasse," Choi says, who was a barista and manager at Cafe Demitasse before opening Found.
And so if the Sorting Hat happens to point you here, you'll be happy to find beans from Demitasse Roasting on bar, with another California roaster to be added in the next few months. Espressos are pulled on a striking La Marzocco machine that's a shade of gold not unlike the Lakers' home jersey, and the coffee menu includes cortados, seasonal lattes, batch brews and a pourover option. For the non-coffee folks, there are blended teas from San Francisco's T-We, and Creme Caramel L.A. supplies the baked goods and pastries. Seating is at one of a handful of tables, or at the large communal table.
Found is still in its soft opening stage, so there are a few things yet to come. Things like art from local artists to decorate the currently spare walls, and a community library where you'll maybe stumble upon your new favorite book. Wi-fi will be coming soon as well.