Interview: LAMILL Coffee founder Craig Min

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INTERVIEW CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE

What’s a typical coffee consumption day like for you?

I always get that question. It’s about 10 – 11. It’s a combination of tasting cups as well as actual cups that I get.

Start me when you wake up.

Actually, when I wake up, I start with some juice. I don’t even touch coffee until I come here. I grab a cup on my way in and walk around and say hi, and grab another cup on the way up, and just kind of start my day off, then throughout different tastings and trials, I’m just consuming.

Is this all brewed coffee?

Brewed, espresso, it could be hand drip, Eva Solo, we have everything. We always have new folks here in the building, so I probably have every extraction method. It’s very fun.


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What’s your first coffee memory?

First coffee memory? I get this a lot. It was sticking these brown palletized crystals on my tongue to be surprised by the extreme amount of bitterness. Being little and taking the granules, that was my first memory of how the family of flavor of coffee works.

What was your parents’ relationship with coffee?

My dad got into coffee in the late ’80s, early ’90s, and my dad has always been a foodie and that was always something he was interested in. He started a company, it didn’t go too well, but that’s kind of how our family got into the coffee business.

What years did he run the coffee company?

He had the coffee company I think from ’89 to 1996. Up to that time, there were four different companies. 1997, he left the family, and there was one company left, which was LAMILL. I took over the company. I didn’t go to college, so I went from high school straight into LAMILL. In my high school years, all I did was work. I worked with coffee, and worked in the business, so when I did get out of high school, I was able to somewhat take on the responsibility.

So he initially taught you the coffee side?

Initially, I think what he taught me was expose me to the environment, and from there, once you engage with the coffee, you kind of go on your own relationship. I’ve come a long way in the last 14 years, I think.

Was it a given that you would work with coffee for a living?

No, actually, I really enjoyed coffee during my first contact at the roastery. That was when I was 12, when I discovered roasting. It was just fun, and I think that drive came from the effort, how to make it better. Every batch, you try to make it better, you try to make it taste better, so you’re obviously tasting differences and variance throughout the batches. You start to kind of create a certain…

Would you say that you have any coffee mentors?

You know, I don’t think I do. The only thing I know about coffee is my relationship with it, what I like. I think there are a lot of people that have helped me throughout the years, the past 14 years, it could be the green trade business to just the different industries that I have a connection with, but with coffee, it’s always kind of been something that’s very face value for me, what we’re looking at, what we’re tasting. I’m always thinking, “This could be like this” or “This could be like this.” It’s kind of a self taught thing more than anything.

If it isn’t already, what will it take for Los Angeles to become a great coffee city?

I think it’s hard to define the word great, but I’m pretty proud of our city. I think there’s a lot of diversity, a lot of different flavors and people are doing a really good job with coffee. It’s something that continues to happen. People are continuing to come to L.A., so it’s a very exciting thing to think about, and it’s very inspirational for our industry.

What do you think makes the Los Angeles coffee scene unique?

I think what makes Los Angeles unique is the diversity of people in the trade that now live here. There have been so many people that come from different regions of coffee that all bring their talent and skill and creativity to L.A. Because of the size of Los Angeles and the companies that have come here to Los Angeles, there’s been a more momentous pull of skillful people. What you’re getting is a really unique combination of styles of coffee, and that’s kind of amazing.

Do you ever brew coffee at home?

I do.

What’s your preferred home brewing method?

I have a commercial espresso machine at home, so often times during the day, on a Saturday, I’ll turn on the machine and let it go the whole day and just pull shots. Hand drip, V60, I have one of everything set up, Siphon, Chemex, a stove pot, Armenian coffee, Turkish coffee, the one with the handle. I have a full coffee bar at home. You can drink a lot of unique things at my house.

If you could only have one more shot of espresso, who would pull the shot for you?

Myself.

If it can’t be you?

I have to think about that one. Nobody comes to mind.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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Silver Lake resident

I was a huge fan of LaMill when it opened. I took many, many people from in and out of town to visit. What they are great at is attention to detail and their coffee, of course. That was then. I now go to the Silver Lake shop and it’s dirty as in not very clean. The staff used to be the best – knowledgeable, friendly, and smart. Now, they are slow, disinterested, and inattentive. I used to declare them the best, but now they are a huge disappointment of an establishment. I’m sorry to say, but I’m boycotting until I hear of and see change. The extra 4 minute drive the opposite way to Intelligentsia along with their parking issues are more worth it to me than the overpriced mediocre service you now get at LaMill. I hope this changes.

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