It’s all thanks to actor Will Ferrell that Verve Coffee Roasters found its latest home in the Los Angeles Arts District. While scouting out a space in which to land Roastery Del Sur, their new Los Angeles flagship café, Verve co-founders Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan recognized the building’s exterior as the setting of the epic news team fight scene in Ferrell’s 2004 film Anchorman. “We were like, ‘Hey wasn’t Anchorman filmed around here?’ ” Barr says. “And once we saw the building, we knew it was the one.”
Known for its bright and breezy California style, the Santa Cruz-based company aimed to merge commercial and residential design at its Roastery Del Sur, which opened last August in a former quinceañera dress factory that relocated down the block. “The design inspiration built off our existing Verve design aesthetic of open and airy, yet warm and welcoming, [with] tons of natural light and plants,” says Barr. The plan for the new 7,000-square-foot facility was the largest and most ambitious of its locations.
To get the job done, they looked to Catherine Johnson and her team at Design, Bitches. When Johnson introduced the Verve team to the Walstrom House from one-time Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice John Lautner, it was game over. “We knew we had a muse for the project,” says Barr. The influence of the iconic Santa Monica hillside home rings clear throughout—the café is all windows, exposed wood and a confluence of angles that form seating and unexpected viewpoints. Rift-sawn white oak ripples throughout, from millwork to paneling to the café’s mezzanine flooring, striking a balance between cozy and chic. Light fixtures from L.A.-based Brendan Ravenhill Studio and New York’s Rich Brilliant Willing adorn the walls and ceiling, amplifying the natural light from the front-facing windows that showcase plant scenes curated by landscape architectural studio Terremoto.
Roastery Del Sur was designed to integrate Verve’s manufacturing with retail, introduce the coffee roaster as a culinary player, and operate as an inspiring R&D center. “Some people hide the production aspects of their business, but we’ve always liked to let people see the process ‘behind the curtain.’ ” says Barr. Despite the immense scope of the project, every detail was carefully considered. The service counter is designed as a mid-century credenza piece drawn forward from the barista bar to stand as a floating island within the café, encouraging interaction between staff and customers. “We like removing barriers, whether it be using as much glass as possible, or creating more flow from inside to outside, from service to customer,” says Barr.
Other thoughtful touches include patterned porcelain tiles in earthen tones sourced from Italian manufacturer Mutina, which line the interior and patio space floors. Hand-drawn wallpaper by FAYCE Textiles adds interest to accent walls, and the artistic nature Verve looks to cultivate in its spaces is embodied by large-scale graphics from Young Jerks and a fiber sculpture installation by artist Windy Chien. “We really looked at every aspect of the space with an ‘everything different’ lens on,” Barr says.
For the service ware, Verve collaborated with Heath and Kinto on ceramics, such as carafes and handle-less mugs. Alcohol-free coffee “cocktails” are served in classic coupes and cut rocks glasses to match the space’s mid-century style. In addition to serving traditional coffee standards, the location showcases an 18-tap draft system offering Roastery Del Sur exclusives like the rosemary grapefruit-infused Flash Brew and the Flash White (chilled nitro oat milk served over flash brew). The menu for Roastery Del Sur’s daytime restaurant is led by former Chopped contestant Mario Tolentino, with dishes like the B.L.A.T sandwich, which swaps in “beetstrami” for bacon.
Ultimately, Roastery Del Sur encapsulates the potential for coffee culture as a whole and for the Verve itself. “We built Roastery Del Sur to serve as a fishbowl into everything we do at Verve,” says Barr. “Functionally, we wanted the space to represent our most current view of both our brand and the future of the coffee industry. We wanted people to walk in and see the entire world of coffee from our cantilevered cupping lab where we taste and select coffees, to our glassed-in roasting room, to our open service area, to the multiple training centers where we work with our team, partners, and the public on coffee education.”
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