Lazy Brewing Company
On the sidewalk off 5th Street, on the brink of Skid Row, a hand-painted blue sign calls out Lazy Brewing Company coffee shop. Inside the door lies a clean sunlit space — cactus growing in old enchilada sauce cans, a pair of throwback Bose speakers oozing mood music.
Since March, owner Jiniee Yoo has been serving exquisite cappuccinos, affogatos, and pour-overs — typical third wave offerings brewed with beans from local roaster Take Flight Coffee. The surprise here is the “whole grain” latte. Stirred into the beverage is high protein Misutgaru powder, a blend of grains, seeds, and legumes that, in Korea where Jiniee grew up, is commonly mixed with water, milk, or soy milk as a health drink. When she heard about a coffee shop in New York adding the mix to their coffee as a way of adapting a Korean beverage to American tastes, she was inspired to do the same.
“It’s a very good protein for the body,” she says. “I had never seen it in L.A.” And, aside from the health benefits, it rounds out the latte with a subtly sweet nutty flavor. Her drinks are complemented by succulent vegan donuts from Lamke Handcrafted plus an impeccable toast topped with arugula, radish, sprouts, lemon, piquant cilantro, and creamy avocado — the perfect counterbalance to the underlying crunch of the sourdough bread. The menu is simple, with just enough variety to keep you coming back for more.
Jiniee’s knack for finances is something she’s developed since discovering the concept of interest as a kid. But more than just financial know-how, it’s creative energy that propels her. Everything from decorating her coffee shop — tracking down the vintage furniture from flea markets and Craigslist — to artfully making each latte has been right in her wheelhouse. And the ambiance is on point.
Late morning sunlight streams in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, as neighbors, Skid Row residents, and Toy District workers hurry past outside. A pensive twenty-something silently types away at a screenplay on the blue leather couch, her dark chocolate latte subtly steaming on the rustic coffee table. An LAPD officer stops in on his beat for an espresso and a homeless man opens the door to ask for a glass of water. All who happen into the sanctuary of Lazy Brewing Co. receive Jiniee’s gracious welcome and, if they’re wise, they take a moment to sit in stillness and savor the drinks she crafts.
Written by Thomas Harlander
Photographed by Caleb Thal