The story of “The Boy and the Bear” comes from a Swedish folk tale, in which a boy lost in the forest is confronted by a bear whom he befriends by giving his basket of berries. Only instead of berries, at The Boy & The Bear specialty coffee roastery, this boy befriends his bear with a basket of coffee beans. The inspiration behind the story is interpreted by Colombian born entrepreneur and shop owner Andres Piñeros as the unification of friends through the opportunity to sit down for coffee, and gather as a community.
When Swedish coffeehouse influence combined with shop founder Piñeros’ Colombian designer’s respect for the “fika” and the third wave coffee culture, the love affair and creation of The Boy & The Bear’s original Redondo Beach location was born. Piñeros wanted to prove that Colombia’s coffees are just as good as any Ethiopian or Central American coffee- and felt that Los Angeles did not yet have proper representation of his country’s flavors. He came to LA with a suitcase and a car lease, and spent the next two years studying the “Third Wave Coffee Movement.”
The “Third Wave Coffee Movement” was defined by Pulitzer-prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold’s in his 2008 LA Weekly writing as a movement aimed at elevating coffee to a level of artisanal care and cultivated flavor, long associated with the production of wine… beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure.”
“The Grey Store” is what the Culver City location of The Boy & The Bear has been self nick-named in contrast to its Redondo Beach sister location’s title “The Black Store” (There’s a “White Store” in the works, as well!). And it’s fittingly named- the interior’s diverse combination of light charcoal colors gives guests the impression they’re drinking their coffee in a sleek, clean futuristic coffee house in a parallel universe. The original Redondo Beach location is still thriving- but now, the second location in Culver City is giving it a run for its coffee beans.
So… what sets The Boy & The Bear apart from Los Angeles’ admittedly saturated coffee shop scene? It’s the uniquely close relationship Piñeros has with his farmers and growers, which leads to the true definition of “direct trade coffee beans.” Piñeros sources directly from Colombia and works with farmers who he personally knows from his childhood rather than working through market intermediaries. Piñeros has even been known to fly his farmer friends up to visit the coffee shop in LA to become educated on how their product is being sold, and to receive direct feedback about what people like or don’t like.
It’s more than just a business, it’s a lifestyle passion for Piñeros- and it’s certainly anything but “grey” (or black or white, for that matter…).
The Boy & The Bear “Grey Store” is located at 12712 W Washington Blvd Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90066 open daily from 7a.m.-7p.m.
Much of this information for this story was sourced from the Easy Reader News 2017 coverage on the opening of the Grey Store written by Mark McDermott.
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