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Downtown espresso bar Blacktop to open next week

Downtown's Arts District has a new neighborhood specialty coffee shop. Blacktop, a tiny espresso bar from Handsome Coffee Roasters co-founder Tyler Wells, is set to open April 23.

Wells teamed with Wurstkuche owners Tyler Wilson and Joseph Pitruzzelli to launch Blacktop, a 240-square-foot cafe next to retail and gallery space Alchemy Works on 3rd Street. (The two spaces are connected by a sliding barn door.) Both Blacktop and Alchemy are located in the building that also houses Wurstkuche's offices and commissary. 

Designed by Kellie Patry (Honeycut, Seven Grand San Diego), Blacktop will serve espresso drinks, brewed coffee, mocha and iced coffee on tap. The coffee beans are from San Francisco-based Sightglass. 

On the marble and Douglas fir counter at the front of the aqua-hued space is a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine, and lining the back counter are a row of Fetco brewing machines for brewed hot coffee. Another counter features taps for the iced coffee.  

The shop's name was inspired by Wells' imagining of California (he's from West Virginia). "Before I lived here I had this dream that you just drive around in a convertible all day and jump out the top at each stop. So the vision for the coffee bar was one of those stops. You just pull up in your Corvette, hop out, get a coffee, and head off to what's next."

If you're inclined to take a seat with a coffee poured into a Heath cup, there will be outdoor seating. "There's so much great sidewalk opportunity," said Wells, who noted that a small fruit stand and a flower stand curated by Glasswing Floral will be set up outside. Wes Avila's Guerrilla Tacos truck, which regularly stops in front of Handsome, also will be parking at Blacktop.

Culinarily inclined Wells, who last year departed from operations at Handsome (which is being purchased by Blue Bottle Coffee), will create a small menu of savories, to be served along with a selection of pastries.  

And yes, there will be sugar for your coffee. "But just sugar," Wells said. "None of the fancy stuff distilled from rhino horns or whatever they're doing now."

826 3rd St., Los Angeles.

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