Cognoscenti Coffee Brings Mystery Roasts to KTown's Normandie Hotel
It's never been hard to find a cup of joe in Koreatown. There's a coffee shop on nearly every corner, but until recently, the Third Wave seemed to skip over the vibrant neighborhood. Sure, there are a few specialty coffee shops, like Drip and Bourbon Street Cafe, that proudly serve up single origin brews, but there's still room for more legit places that don't cater to the soymilk and Splenda crowd. That's where architect and Cognoscenti Coffee founder Yeekai Lim comes in. He believes KTown is ready to support another purveyor brewing only the finest beans.
On weekdays from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Cognoscenti Coffee devotees can venture to the Normandie Hotel in Koreatown to get a shot pulled by Lim, who's become a staple in L.A. coffee culture for his top notch pop-up espresso bar. The Normandie is currently being renovated with a focus on developing retail spaces in addition to room upgrades, and if the pop-up can draw enough support from the neighborhood, Cognoscenti may just get permanent placement, just like it did with Atwater Village's Proof Bakery. With gourmet burger veteran Cassell's Hamburgers moving right next door, this corner of Koreatown could really heat up.
Tuesday marked the first day of the pop-up and a swath of the coffee community came to support the small cart parked in the hotel lobby. John Martin of Intelligentsia Pasadena, Scoops Westside owner Matt Kang, Jack Benchakul of Demitasse, Matthew Wygal of Spring for Coffee, and Kelly Donahey of Proof Bakery were all spotted on day one — some of which jumped behind the cart to pull shots as customers trickled in.
There's plenty of parking in the lot diagonally across from the hotel or on the street, but be warned that you'll need to dodge the scaffolding and caution tape to find the lobby's entrance. You'll be handsomely rewarded for your mission: Once inside Lim is pulling espressos that put the rest of the town to shame, with special roasts that he doesn't use at any of his other shops. These "mystery roasts" have to be kept on the DL. You can guess their origin if you like, but Lim is keeping the secrets close to his chest.
For those of you with fear of abandonment, this isn't your only chance to see what Lim is up to. He's still working over at Proof, and the brick-and-mortar Cognoscenti Coffee location in Culver CIty is still moving forward, but with no opening date yet announced. Stay tuned.