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Celebrating National Coffee Day With Our Favorite Independent Coffee Shops

Celebrating National Coffee Day With Our Favorite Independent Coffee Shops

September 24, 2020

How are we celebrating National Coffee Day at Ember? Indulging in an extra cup or two of perfectly hot coffee and by highlighting a few of our favorite independent coffee shops. These coffee shops and their owners inspire us with everything from their espresso expertise, commitment to their communities, and their eye for creating unique spaces as individual as they are. Here’s what they have to say on all things business, passion, originality and of course – coffee.

@findyourhilltop

Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen

Founders: Ajay Relan & Yonnie Hagos
Location: Inglewood & View Park California

Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen was founded by Los Angeles natives who spent their formative years in the neighborhoods of Inglewood and View Park, where they chose to plant their shop’s roots. “You can drive all over LA and find neighborhoods with coffee shops on every corner – West Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Venice. These are community gathering spaces that function as more than just a coffee shop; they’re incubators of creativity. There was nothing like that in our neighborhood,” said Ajay Relan. It is this connection and commitment to their community that truly sets Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen apart from the crowd. When asked what the shop's greatest achievement is, Ajay notes, “Acceptance by the community. From the jump, our aim has been for Hilltop to be a place that sets the tone for your entire day and is there for you when you need it – in good times and less good times. We take the responsibility of bringing that to the community to heart.”

From the jump, our aim has been for Hilltop to be a place that sets the tone for your entire day and is there for you when you need it.

Q: What advice would you give to someone dreaming of owning their own small business?

A: Buckle up. You never know when a global pandemic is going to hit. In all seriousness, it’s so important to be smart with your money, understand who your customer is, and focus your energy on serving them.

Q: How do you want customers to feel when they visit your shop?

A: One of the first pieces of media coverage we ever got in LA led with the headline, “Everyone Belongs at Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Our ethos throughout all the things we have created has always been ‘good vibes only’. Everything carries the thoughtfulness and the creativity in the experience—so that people feel inspired and motivated to better themselves.”

Q: What is your coffee drink of choice?

A: Honey oat milk latte or “Hi, honey,” as I like to call it.

Q: What is your preferred drinking temperature?

A: 142°F


@alanascoffee

Alana’s Coffee Roasters

Founders: Eric Stogsdill & Erin Ward
Location: Mar Vista, California

Alana’s is a community-focused shop with humble origins that has grown into a thriving local business. What makes this shop unique is that it roasts on site in small batches and has a knowledgeable staff that can help craft your drink just the way you like it. “We love to share coffee knowledge with people and introduce them to flavors and coffee bean processes,” said Eric Stogsdill and Erin Ward. They were inspired to open a brick and mortar location because they both believed coffee could be more approachable. “The idea was to bring high quality coffee to the area without the attitude you find in some high end coffee shops,” said Eric and Erin. Prior to the pandemic, Alana’s served as a gathering place for the people of Mar Vista with live music sing-alongs, movie nights, and comedy – and cannot wait to one day bring this sense of community back to their customers.

High quality coffee without the attitude you find in some high end coffee shops.

Q: What advice would you give to someone dreaming of owning their own small business?

A: Stick with it! Los Angeles is a particularly difficult place to open a new shop, especially one with an on-site roaster. Our journey to open Alana's took almost two years. We had some breaks along the way for sure but it may be a process and there will be days you want to give up but once you open, you'll forget all of it.

Q: How do you want customers to feel when they visit your shop?

A: Welcomed, relaxed and not afraid to ask questions about the coffee beans we have available.

Q: What is your coffee drink of choice?

A: Erin - Flat White; Eric - Pour Over

Q: What is your preferred drinking temperature?

A: 135°F


@bloomandplumecoffee

Bloom & Plume Coffee

Founder: Maurice Harris
Location: Echo Park, California

Bloom & Plume Coffee’s story blossomed in a flower shop. “We had a desire to expand our flower business to be more approachable to a broader base of community members, but yet still luxurious,” said Founder Maurice Harris. However, Bloom & Plume is not your typical coffeehouse where java aficionados come solely to gather for a rich brew; it’s a community-oriented brand that wholeheartedly seeks to unite people. “We do our very best everyday to create a space of belonging for people of color, people living on the margins, and to our neighbors,” Maurice explained about the brand's mission. “We accomplish our mission via storytelling, aesthetics, customer service and transformative product offerings, including merch, coffee and delicious food.” It is this unwavering commitment to their mission and their community that Maurice notes as the shop's biggest achievement. “Community is key! Ubuntu – ‘I am because you are’. Bloom & Plume Coffee is here because of YOU!”

Community is key! Ubuntu – ‘I am because you are’. Bloom & Plume Coffee is here because of YOU!

Q: What advice would you give to someone dreaming of owning their own small business?

A: Never run [a business] alone!! Build a very, very, very strong team of people around you. Find a partner that’s strong in areas where you are not. Ask for help often.

Q: How do you want customers to feel when they visit your shop?

A: One word “Seen!!” We want customers to feel like they “belong” and this space is created for them to be their whole complete perfectly imperfect selves.

Q: What is your coffee drink of choice?

A: Vanilla Oat Milk Latte (we make our own vanilla syrup in house from Madagascar vanilla beans..sooooo good!!)

Q: What is your preferred drinking temperature?

A: 135°F






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