Verve Coffee Roasters is now open in Beverly Grove. But what makes this location different from the one in downtown Los Angeles, and the other in West Hollywood? A Farmlevel Bar, also known as a coffee genius bar.
Near the rear of the Santa Cruz-based roaster's Beverly Grove shop is the Farmlevel Bar. It's one part genius bar and one part slow bar, where free from line anxiety, you can ask a knowledgeable barista all your coffee questions, from what beans you should buy to the difference between a naturally processed coffee and a wet-processed one.
The pour-over coffees are made here, too, and while you watch the pour, you can — if you were so inclined — get some insight into the coffee being brewed.
"The Achilles heel of every coffee shop is being able to talk about the coffee," says Colby Barr, who, along with Ryan O'Donovan, founded the company in 2007. If you've ever been loath to hold up a busy coffee shop line just to ask the barista what bag of whole beans you should buy, you can appreciate Barr's point.
At any given time, four coffees are highlighted at the bar. Farmlevel manager Kristen Kovaletz says the coffees are chosen based on their range of flavors as well as the stories behind them. At the moment, she's excited about the El Limoncillo Yellow Pacamara, a coffee from Nicaragua.
"The coffee has a really intense, tropical flavor," Kovaletz says, adding that the Yellow Pacamara cultivar is relatively new and has taken the producer, Erwin Mierisch, some 15 years to cultivate. When this coffee came to market, Verve purchased the entire 80-pound lot. "It's the only coffee of its kind in the world," she says.
The coffees here are available for sale in most any quantity; they're hand-scooped out of one of the huge jars lining the shelf behind the bar and individually bagged. If you run into issues making it just right at home, you can come back and ask someone to troubleshoot your home-brewing problems as you might ask an Apple store Genius why your MacBook won't turn on.
In some ways, this dedicated space is a physical extension of Verve's coffee sourcing philosophy, which it calls its Farmlevel Initiative. Like many other specialty coffee roasters who subscribe to the direct trade model, Verve works directly with farmers and pays premium prices for high-quality coffee.
The Verve crew is so excited about the Farmlevel Bar that it may very well be incorporated into existing shops and be on the floor plan for future ones. And speaking of the future: The company soon will open its fourth location in Santa Cruz and its first in San Francisco.
Back in L.A., a roastery and café is in the works in the Arts District; that's expected to open sometime next year. Before too long, Barr says, they'll have nine shops in three cities up and down the California coast. Not bad for an independent specialty coffee company.
Verve Coffee Roasters in Beverly Grove is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
8051 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove, (323) 746-5070, www.vervecoffeeroasters.com.