Coffee Lore Presents The Boy & The Bear

If you step into The Boy & The Bear's Redondo Beach location you will realize you're being transported.  To where you may ask...I think to a place where the coffee is taken as seriously as the design.  Andrés Piñeros (owner of B&B) is originally from Villavicencio a small town outside of Bogota Colombia.  He's a designer by trade but has had a longing for specialty coffee ever since experiencing it many moons ago.  Andres just opened his second shop in Los Angeles in Culver City.  I got to sit down with Andres over coffee and ask him some questions.  Below is our conversation. 

 Andres Piñeros

Andres Piñeros

Matthew

How did you get into coffee?

Andrés

Because of Sweden and Colombia of course.  When I lived in Sweden I didn't really like coffee back then.  In the Swedish culture, the coffee drinking culture is very strong so I started drinking coffee.  I realized that the coffee roasters were way better than everywhere else and tried a coffee brewed in a Chemex for the first time.  I had a Yoda moment like wow what is that?!  They told me about the Chemex and the coffee was amazing.  Since then I started digging and finding out what was different from coffee before.  I found that their coffee quality is better, the brewing they pay attention to it, and I was already looking for a company to build.  I was thinking either a restaurant or a graphic design company.  That was the big moment when I thought the coffee was amazing, I have friends back home in Colombia in the coffee industry, and I wanted to start digging into it. 

Matthew

From that point of falling in love with coffee what was the next steps that happened before launching your coffee shops, we know today?

Andrés

I then went back to Colombia.  I started looking at these type of shops and there were two specialty coffee shops in 2010.  One of them was at a Hilton hotel.  I ordered a cappuccino with my girlfriend at the time and it was the best cappuccino I had in my life.  And there it was again I asked how did they make it so good.  And it was the same story they told me they roast their own beans and it was specialty coffee beans.  That's when I knew this is exactly what I want to do.  It was a game changer.  I could not believe coffee was that good by itself.  

I'm a graphic designer and I always wanted to be a founder of a company where I can be the art director of my brand.  Coffee and branding could go together really well.  Then I went to a coffee course.  

I didn't know anything about coffee and it was called Educafes.  They had a few spots open in an upcoming seminar and I signed up.  I knew nothing about coffee nothing before that.  I learned how to pull an espresso shot, steam milk, pour overs, what is specialty coffee.  That was my first step to the specialty coffee world. I ended up opening a small cart after that in my hometown in Villavicencio Colombia.  I started there and did about $5K in business.  I learned everything off that cart.  Like what people are looking for, what are the right things to say to make people understand specialty coffee. We understood the numbers, quantities, and the perks of business.  

I wanted to come back to LA because I studied music production for about a year.  It seemed to be the place for specialty coffee and progressive businesses.  People were very open-minded for a $5, $6, even a $10 cup of coffee in LA. 

In 2012, I moved back to LA and it took about 25 months to open my first location.  A lot of research and a long path to that.  We've been a company for about 3 years now.

Matthew

Tell me about the main elements of your brand and coffee shop

Andrés

We have two main pillars of the company.  One is the coffee all Colombian coffee only.  They are all friends of mine and people I know.  That makes it very tangible and honest.  We are a Whatsapp away from all the farmers we are working with.  It makes it very real.  Another aspect of coffee is our roasting.  We roast ourselves and analyze every single roast.  Always thinking why specific roast tastes better and we cup after every roast session.  We sit and analyze everything to get to perfection.  

The second part is the design load of the company.  We want our customers to relate to the story behind our logo The Boy & The Bear and connect to the Colombian farm.  We want it to be beautiful and state of the art.  Like a magazine type of look.   We really think a great magical environment mixed with mind-blowing coffee is one of the best formulas of success for our company.

Matthew

If you had to describe your company in one sentence how would you do that?

Andrés

Amazing mind-blowing coffee that is direct traded from Colombia with a state of the art design.

Matthew

How do you usually explain specialty coffee or third wave coffee to someone who is not familiar with it?

Andrés

I would say there is more care in the processing at the farm.  Specialty coffee is all at the farm.  The final product is never going to be better than what you find at the farm.  To me, specialty coffee is 5-10x better than corporation coffee.  If you compare specialty coffee to corporation coffee, corporation coffee is mass produced and they don't focus on quality.  It's all done by machine and they add branches, leaves, unripe with ripe cherries all in one.  Specialty coffee is all hand-picked, very selective and careful so that's why the taste in the final cup is very special.  

The way they do it on the farm and integrate science into growing coffee.

Matthew

How do you think the industry can get on the same page with price sensitivity for consumers?  Thinking about wine and how the price will vary do you see specialty coffee being a similar price to wine in the future?

Andrés

I think there is a lot of speculation about pricing in the industry.  Varietals like Geshia's they get expensive because of the name and most of the time you try them they're not that good.  We have to stop thinking about the name and focus on the quality.  I think we are getting there.  It's a matter of time.  Our niche is very small it's about 2-3% of the entire coffee market.  We are just going to be gaining ground and educating the people.  I don't necessarily think raising prices is a good thing or we should aim for.  I think $6-$10 is where I see it going.  Most of the cost should be going to the labor on the farm.  I don't think the ultimate goal is to have $20-$30 cup of coffee.  However, I think more money needs to be allocated to the farmers.

Matthew

How would you get producers and farmers in front of the consumer or coffee shop owners more?

Andrés

We've actually did it twice.  They actually met cusotmers in our shop.  First of all they're friends of mine.  Second, they speak english and are very well educated about coffee.  We paid for their expenses while they stayed here.  A couple of the farmers knew how to roast so we let them roast some coffee.  Not many brands have done that in Los Angeles.  We are one of the few coffee shops that has done that.  I think we just have been lucky.  That they speak english and we can afford it.  

Matthew

When someone comes to your shop the first time what do you recommend they order?

Andrés

When someone comes into our shop we ask them a one question.  Coffee with milk or black.  That's the fork in the road for us.  If they want milk we recommend a gibralta or cortad which is the perfect balance.  You can still taste the notes of the coffee and the milk makes it creamy.  It's a very good desert kind of drink.  Or we do a pour over.  We are really proud of our coffee and you will be mind-blown.  

Matthew

What's your pour over brew method of choice at The Boy & The Bear?

Andrés

Usually a V60 or Chemex.  We actually are creating our own brand pour over similar to a V60 with our brand on them.  We've been working on it for the last 8 months and it will come out this year.  We took some models that we enjoyed brewing with and sent them to China where they designed ours.  We were doing Chemex at our shops and we switched to our new pour overs.  It was a game changer.  Before with a Chemex, we were getting a lot of acidity in our coffee's.  Now with our new pour overs, our coffee is more well balanced.

Matthew

What is the biggest challenge you run into as a coffee shop owner?

Andrés

Trying to deliver the entire brand to every customer that comes in.  We are lucky to be busy and it's sometimes hard to deliver it because we have so little time with each customer.  The line gets longer if you spend too much time.  We are working on figuring out how to deliver our brand through our graphic design, social media, our coffee bags.  That's been a little hard.  Also, finding good people is hard.  We are happy with our barista's which we call team members that have been with us over 2 years.  For example, if we interview 30 people only 1 person fits our brand.  That is one of the biggest challenges for us.  We are looking for people that work with their heart that love what they do and they're passionate.  Our shop spends a lot of time and resources on finding talented people.  We are in a unique niche so sometimes it's challenging.  

Matthew

Since you have successfully opened two amazing coffee shops, do you have any advice for someone opening their first shop?

Andrés

The main thing of every business is to be aware of the ins and outs of it.  The costs, cash flow, and expenses.  You also have to find your niche within the niche.  You need to have something that separates you from other businesses.  Like The Boy & The Bear we only roast Colombian coffee.   We do direct trade and have a magical design.  Find that unique thing about your brand and know your numbers.  

I wanted to thank our friend Andres Piñeros for spending time with me and sharing his story.  If you want to keep in contact with The Boy & The Bear you can find them on Instagram or on their website below.  Their coffee's are truly magically and we encourage you to go try them for yourseleves. 

https://www.instagram.com/theboyandthebearco/

https://theboyandthebear.com

 

The Boy & The Bear (Redondo Beach) | The Black Store

350 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

 Photo by The Boy & The Bear

Photo by The Boy & The Bear

The Boy & The Bear (Culver City) | The Gray Store

12712 W Washington Blvd Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90066

 Photo by The Boy & The Bear

Photo by The Boy & The Bear