Clean lines. Sharp angles. Hard edges. Great coffee. This is the Endorffeine aesthetic. “Everything’s really simple and the most complicated thing will be the coffee,” says Jack Benchakul, owner and barista. “And even that’s just coffee.”
Earlier this year, Jack embarked on his greatest adventure to date: Endorffeine. He wasn’t always the hospitality-type though. Prior to working in the LA coffee and restaurant scene he was a biochemist, engaged in literally life-saving work. Now he saves lives a different way: one cup of caffeine at a time. That’s what’s so interesting about the New York-born, California-raised owner though; he doesn’t do things the way people suppose he would.
For many, opening a business is the most stressful compartment of their life. Not Jack. “[Endorffeine] is a nice decompression,” he says. “Not just from the space outside, but from my commute and myself every morning. It’s nice to step into a space that calms you down—where you can just have a cup of coffee and all is well.” The dichotomy of his Zen-like space to the chaos surrounding it is all part of the appeal.
The shop is clean and simple. Very minimal. The stereotypical “problem” with being so minimal in hospitality though, is appearing too cold and unapproachable—an impossible attribute for an intimate coffee bar, as people need to come in and feel welcome. This doesn’t mean you can’t challenge pre-conceived ideas of what a coffee bar is. “When people see Endorffeine, they question what it is, and what the product is,” says Jack. It’s definitely not your mainstream, commercial, big box coffee shop. That is a good thing.
The storefront is all glass, and there is an intentionally long expanse between window and bar. The espresso machine is housed underneath the counter, so there’s always very little between Jack and the customer. Intimacy and transparency are essential. The space is cool (in color temperature), but the U-bar format, warmer lighting above the bar-front, and numerous different textures (zinc counter-top at the front, laminated toward the back, dark wooden stools and walnut behind the bar) do soften the space. Even the partition at the rear of the shop allows light to pass through and emphasize the shadows behind to enhance the concept of transparency without removing privacy entirely.
“I don’t succumb to the ‘I have to do this or that’ mentality,” says Jack. “I’ll do things my way — with a little bit of compromise — but mostly my way and be happy.” It’s hard to imagine Endorffeine’s clientele not sharing his happiness, especially when the product is as tremendous as it is. Espresso-lovers should take the Cortado. Not ‘to-go’ though. Take your time and savor the flavor. Those with a sweeter tooth should enquire about the iced alternatives like the Palm Sugar Whiskey latte or the Pandan iced coffee.
Not everyone will want to be challenged with the design, but to be successful you can’t be all things to all people. With coffee this good and an exciting food menu on the way, carving out a niche in a cool neighborhood isn’t going to be a problem. Endorffeine might be young, but the store is already very mature.