Caffe Luxxe, the European-style specialty coffee company from Gary Chau and Mark Wain, debuted in 2006. The business partners remained committed to brewing white label beans from Seattle’s Espresso Vivace, and to displaying consistent espresso artistry, and the model helped them to build three successful locations in Santa Monica and Brentwood. To help fuel further expansion, which means wholesale accounts and potential cafes in neighborhoods like Pacific Palisades and Larchmont Village, they purchased a Probat coffee roaster and have been refining roasts at their new Il Laboratorio in a Gardena industrial park.
Chau and Wain opted for a Gardena facility due to zoning and emissions criteria, plus proximity to the Port of Los Angeles. It also helps that Wain lives in nearby San Pedro.
In addition to a coffee roasting room, the new Caffe Luxxe space also houses offices, storage, a room for packing and processing, and a lab with a communal wood table.
They plan to produce 65 – 70,000 pounds of coffee per year, which will supply cafes and wholesale accounts. They purchased a 12-kilo 1993 Probat roaster, which gives Wain the fluid bed and air flow that he needs. Willem Boot of Boot Coffee taught Wain to roast.
Wain said they’ve been sourcing the same beans from Espresso Vivace’s Testarossa blend. However, he pointed out, “Selecting the same beans is not the art. There can be many interpretations of the same beans through roasting.” Given that, they’re attempting to match the flavor. Chau said the goal is to “minimize the impact to the customer.” They’ve been refining the roast profile, getting closer to their goal, including side-by-side tastings of Vivace’s roast and their roast, and once the ‘tween meet, Caffe Luxxe coffee goes live in Los Angeles.