Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters' first Los Angeles cafe is set to open Friday in downtown's Fashion District, not too far from Alma and the Ace Hotel.
The roaster partnered with cold-pressed-juice company Juice Served Here to open the cafe, meaning it's a one-stop shop if you happen to be in the mood for a Gibraltar and fresh green juice -- because you may as well have both for breakfast.
The location is Verve's first retail space outside of Santa Cruz, and the first of several shops, plus a roastery, scheduled to open in L.A. this year.
"We really fell in love with Los Angeles," Verve co-founder and green buyer Colby Barr said. "It embodies the California lifestyle that we think is strongly Verve."
Collaborating with Juice Served Here to open the cafe is a culmination of a partnership: The two companies have been working together for some time now, as Juice Served Here incorporates Verve's cold-brew concentrate in its coffee drinks, and Verve stocks Juice Served Here bottles at its cafes.
Barr said that when the two companies decided to pool their resources into the same space, they discussed various ways it could work, including the possibility of simply splitting the room in half, with each partner operating its own shop independent from the other.
After some deliberation, he said, they decided that it would make far more sense to create one stellar spot that offered both "world-class juice and world-class coffee."
The resulting 1,600-square-foot cafe was designed by Studio MAI and successfully melds the two companies' concepts. A patio flanked by vertical gardens is a nice respite from the tar and concrete of the street; inside, a Beatles fan will recognize that the floor pattern takes after the grill cloth on a Vox amplifier. There are stools along the wood counter, and seats accented with braided denim can be found at a large communal table and at tables along the walls.
"There's really not much of anything like this in the Fashion District," Juice Served Here's co-founder Greg Alterman said. "We're hoping this becomes a meeting spot for anybody who needs to take a meeting, to hang out, to take a work break."
You'll find all sorts of fuel for that meeting or break, starting with Verve's espresso. Shots are pulled from a Kees van der Westen machine that has no less than four groupheads to better accommodate the morning rush. Filtered coffee options include batch brews and pourovers made with the Modbar modules you see at the end of the counter.
Verve uses Juice Served Here's nut milks as its non-dairy option; those milks also are featured in special drinks such as the Tres Leches cappuccino, which combines Verve's espresso with Juice Served Here's blend of three nut milks.
The roaster also offers a variety of flavored sparkling probiotic drinks from Dr. Kefir, which are available on tap and by the bottle.
Juice Served Here's menu includes 23 different cold-pressed juices, plus smoothies and shots. If you become overwhelmed by the enormous number of ways that fruit and vegetables can be combined into one drink, you might want to order the juice equivalent of Guisado's taco sampler: a "flight" of ten juices, organized into two neat rows on a tray, that is as pretty as a kindergartner's watercolor palette.
To eat with your drink of choice, Short Cake's pastry chef, Ivan Marquez, created a seasonal food menu especially for Verve that includes sandwiches and, of course, pastries. And the snacks and to-go items from Cafe Gratitude that you find at all Juice Served Here locations are available here as well.
If Verve and Juice Served Here integrate well, this "concept cafe," as the teams call it, may be a template for similar shops down the line.