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Meet Katrina Manning of Coffee Connection in MarVista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katrina Manning.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Katrina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have loved coffee for as long as I can remember. As a child, coffee was my favorite flavor ice cream. Chocolate covered espresso beans were delicious before and after I knew they had caffeine. And, after my AP Statistics teacher reminisced about his years as a barista, I began to realize more fully that I could seriously pursue coffee.

My first job in coffee was in college at Scripps’ all women, student-run Motley Coffeehouse. This job was a dream. I learned everything I had been longing to know about coffee — the delicacies of espresso and various bean roasts, how coffee is grown and processed, and (most importantly) how to steam some stellar milk for lattes, cappuccinos, and those fancy cortados. I picked up every shift I could, and quickly sought out summer work as a barista.

My first choice was a small, whole-in-the-wall cafe in Santa Monica. I loved the vibe, the location, and their chocolate-hazelnut shake, but… taking the bus to and from Santa Monica at odd hours (possibly 2am) was not as thrilling to my parents as it was to me. I began venturing closer to home. During my search, my twin sister’s prom date from high school recommended the Coffee Connection. He had worked there for years and was planning to leave and train as an EMT.

After 2 interviews, I got the job. Once the manager found out I was in charge of training and co-managing 50+ baristas at the Motley, she made an exception to her policy of not hiring summer baristas. I was stoked. I worked there every break and every weekend I could make it back home. Crafting new and old drinks for an incessant stream of customers became the hobby I loved most, and I got paid for it!! My time behind the bar slowly dwindled upon graduating college. More than many things, I wanted to be pulling shots and pouring latte art, but careers were on the horizon. Coffee couldn’t be my career, could it?

This thought racked my brain and, one night, entered my dreams — my night-time dreams! I dreamt that my manager — the Coffee Connection manager — planned to leave the cafe and needed a replacement. Literally, the next morning — as I grabbed my daily cup of joe and caught up with my friend — I was told that my dream had come true. The manager was PLANNING TO LEAVE AND LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT. Four months later, I began managing the Coffee Connection. I am 8 months in, constantly busy and constantly working, but living the dream. ((:

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I am still young, and this is still new, so there has not been an abundance of challenges, but with any change comes challenge.

The year I transitioned to Coffee Connection management, I had just gotten married and was actually working 3 part-time jobs at a small high school in Santa Monica, along with the fourth very part-time job as a barista ((: I was teaching senior English, co-directing in the school admission’s office, coaching girls’ varsity basketball and occasionally throwing together a few lattes. There were a lot of moving parts, a lot of hours away from my new-study husband, and a tinge of stress.

We thought narrowing the four part-times to one full time would reduce the moving parts, limit the time away and diminish stress; however, there is a lot to managing, even a small non-profit.

Within the first few months, I was hit with the works. To this day, I am convinced all possible battles have been endured (fingers crossed). Two of our most senior baristas (and dear friends) found their dream jobs outside of the Coffee Connection, an employee quit via group text without notice, the health inspection came, stayed many many hours, but left with an ”A” in our window, and I had to fire someone. Yikes. This — and many other things — happened. Things like this continued to happen and will continue to happen. That is the life. At first, this was exhausting. Eight-hour days plus after-hour drama? I don’t remember signing up for this, but… I did. Now, my weeks are filled with 10-12 hr. days, after-hour drama, and a whole lot of love for this cafe.

Please tell us about Coffee Connection.
The Coffee Connection is a non-profit cafe of the Westside Vineyard Christian Church. This is not what we’re known for, but it’s who we are. The Vineyard Church came to MarVista in 2001, taking over this old-world Italian restaurant. The real-estate was phenomenal and one of kind. Naturally, church leaders wanted to make the most of this property and invest in the community. They landed on providing a part-time cafe and part-time church. ((: The Coffee Connection is open Monday through Saturday from 5:30am to 9pm, and the Vineyard Church meets every Sunday from 9am-4pm. It’s makes for a mouthful of an answer, but it’s amazing.

Being a non-profit of the church gives us a unique perspective and mission. We were founded with the sole purpose of serving the community well. With this privilege, we are able to support local schools with coffee and pastry donations or partner with large organizations that align with our goal! We have also hosted a number of MarVista community events, which has been amazing. I love working for a cafe with a mission for the greater good. Also, our coffee is amazing!!

We serve all organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee, and seek to serve the best products available. We keep things fresh, with rotating seasonal menus, and have expansive selection ingredients — particularly milk alternatives — that makes your experience very customize-able.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Honestly, nothing. Life is filled with uncertainty and chaos that can never be planned for, and that I enjoy working in. I chose unpredictable work that keeps me guessing, moving, and working hard. I wouldn’t have it differently.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Coffee Connection
    3838 South Centinela Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
  • Website: www.coffeeconnectionla.com
  • Phone: 310-391-1380
  • Email: katrina@coffeeconnectionla.com
  • Instagram: coffeeconnectionla
  • Twitter: coffeeconnectionla

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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