Monday mornings used to be tough. If you’re honest, every morning was. Up at the break of dawn and on a train before most of the city had spluttered, like a cold engine, to life. Your friends would post photos of their perfect lattes on manicured wooden surfaces, but you only ever had time for the quickest, most-caffeinated cup to keep the cogs turning. Then you met Barista Society, the most convenient specialty coffee shop in town, and everything changed.
Tucked against the wall of Union Station’s cavernous east portal, Barista Society is the radiating beacon of light your morning commute had been missing. “The design had to fit the space,“ says Charn Bak, founder. “What we wanted was a little bit of an elegant escape from the hustle and bustle of Union Station and getting to work. A peaceful area where you can get to.”
The all-glass storefront was essential then, as it creates transparency. “We like to see our baristas in action,” says Bak. And why wouldn’t you when they’re pulling shots from a beautiful, custom La Marzocco?
What makes Barista Society so unique is its role as a neighborhood coffee shop though. The notion of a local shop seems diluted when placed in a chaotic train station with over 70,000 daily visitors, but this is how it distinctively becomes the most inclusive neighborhood coffee shop in the entire city. Orange County, Riverside, Hollywood, Ventura County, The Valley — all these places now become local, connected by Union Station and a great cup of coffee.
Bak’s company has history Downtown too, originating in the US Bank Tower. This summer it will return at the entrance of the highly anticipated 69/70th floor sky-space restaurant and outdoor viewing deck. Their Union Station store will continue pulling high quality shots for DTLA’s train-line commuters though. “It’s all about consumer experience here and that’s what really propels people to get educated on drinking better coffee,” says Bak. “There’s a lot of good coffee out there, but we hope to be one of the better ones in Los Angeles.”
Barista Society also partner with select pastry vendors and bakeries to ensure there is always quality food to accompany their drinks. “I never want specialty coffee to be unapproachable,” says Bak. “We want to be engrained into everyday life, so you can start your day with us. With a feeling of familiarity and comfort.”
With the US Bank store re-opening, and Union Station continuing to expand its east portal offerings, 2016 promises to be the busiest yet for Bak and Barista Society. Establishing a quality brand across two of DTLA’s most iconic destinations and then beyond isn’t a bad way to start the New Year.