Well, this is a bummer.
After 9 years of brewing fresh coffee and tea for Silver Lake residents, local coffee shop, Bean Machine, has finally decided to give up and move back home to Indiana. Though well-known among the rest of the coffee shop community, Bean Machine never seemed to be able to reach far outside of its own neighborhood the way that larger coffee shops like Intelligentsia, or even Portland’s Stumptown have been able to do.
“It’s not easy,” Doug Zell, co-founder of Intelligentsia said. “In the coffee business, it’s not enough to just make good coffee. You’ve got to first get people to taste that coffee, and then make sure that those people have to have enough influence to get the word out.” He took a moment to sip his cup of coffee. “We got lucky. Not everyone does.”
Over the course of 9 years, Bean Machine seemed to do everything that a coffee shop could’ve done to succeed. At first, like many who arrive in LA with dreams of opening their own coffee shop, they thought that success would find them after 3 or 4 years, but held on to the faint hope that they might get lucky early on. A month or so in, they learned that their Indiana-based coffee brewing techniques couldn’t keep up with LA coffee, so they started taking coffee-brewing classes at the Lyric Hyperion.
While they learned a few new tricks from the Lyric Hyperion, they would soon find that the true value in these classes were that they were a good launching point into the coffee brewing community. Bean Machine became known among other coffee brewers who were just starting, as well as among those who had been paying their rent as coffee brewing teachers. Perhaps most importantly, this sense of community became the reason that Bean Machine would keep brewing coffee, even though the only people tasting their coffee were other coffee brewers.
Bean Machine was forced to watch as their coffee brewer friends began to get their own coffee shop deals. Though Bean Machine was working just as hard as all the other coffee brewers, it felt like they were just never at the right place at the right time. They fought through this for years, telling themselves that the most important thing was that they just kept making coffee.
Though that may have been true, the daily grind of making coffee in LA eventually got to them, infecting what used to be their passion and turning it into a competitive chore. Perhaps this will not be the last we see of Bean Machine, but for now, they have returned to their hometown of Zionsville, Indiana. “We’re going back to making coffee for the people who love it the most: ourselves.” Bean Machine said before boarding a plane back home.
The LA coffee brewing community will miss you, Bean Machine. Keep grinding away.