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Meet Bobak Roshan of Demitasse Coffee in Little Tokyo, Santa Monica, Mid-Wilshire and West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bobak Roshan.

Bobak, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I used to be a corporate lawyer. At the time, I was drinking a ton of coffee. A small group of us at the firm formed the “coffee club” and we ordered coffee from all over the country, ground it fresh in our office, and rated it on a spreadsheet. As it increasingly took up more of my time, I figured I ought to make a career out it. I moved in with parents and opened up our first one in Little Tokyo.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road! Finding a landlord who would even call us back was a struggle. Then we got to go through the joy that is getting LA Building and Safety and the inspectors. But once we were open, it was great to just be immersed in making coffee and getting to focus on just coffee. The step to roasting was a big one and definitely had lots of bumps as we wrapped our head around it. Getting to do direct trade coffee was another big step and that’s had lots of bumps, good and bad.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Demitasse Coffee story. Tell us more about the business.
We’re a micro roaster of specialty coffees with a few cafes in and around town. We’re probably best known for two things – our direct trade coffees and the relationships we’ve built by going down to countries like El Salvador to meet with producers. And also the fun, creative drinks you’ll find at our cafes. We have a crazy seasonal latte. Each shop also has a shop drink. And to top it all off, each barista has a signature drink you can only order when they’re there. I think those things definitely set us apart from a lot of the others in LA.

I’m probably most proud of the fact that 4 people who have worked for me now own their own cafes. I really love that.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’ve been so lucky with the folks that I have (and have had) work for me. I’ve been blessed with a great staff and honestly, having been to many other shops all over the world, I know how lucky we’ve been to consistently get such great people to come work for us. And a lot of that is luck. Our roaster, for example, was a cousin of a regular who had moved here from the UK after working at a top-notch roastery out there for 10 years. I’m sure we’ve had lots of bad luck along the way, too. Most recently, a Starbucks opened up literally across the street from our Little Tokyo store. We now have 3 of them literally within a block from us in each direction.


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Amparo Rios

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