BY CHRISTINA COOKE
10 Speed owner Bryan McGeeney at his bicycle-themed Hood River roastery.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
A Hood River coffee shop hopes to break into the Los Angeles market this year, establishing itself in a place about as opposite its origin as it gets.
10 Speed Coffee, a bicycle-themed roaster with cafés in Hood River, Mosier and White Salmon, plans to open a location in the affluent L.A. suburb of Calabasas (home to the infamous Kardashians) this fall. To introduce its product to the state, 10 Speed served as the official coffee sponsor for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California bike race, which ended May 20 a few miles from its future location.
“Whereas Portland is crawling with roasters and cafés, the whole scene hasn't caught on in L.A.,” says 10 Speed owner Bryan McGeeney. “We see a lot of opportunity to do something down there with specialty coffee.” McGeeney opened the first 10 Speed in Hood River in 2005 with five employees. He will have 35 employees between the four shops.
L.A. entrepreneurs Tim Rettele and Robbie Schaeffer, who frequent 10 Speed during trips to the Columbia Gorge, approached McGeeney last year about setting up shop adjacent to the farm-to-table restaurant called Pedalers Fork, which they are opening at the same time.
Rettele says he was attracted to the quality and taste of 10 Speed’s small-batch roasted, fairly traded beans and the healthy, everybody-knows-your-name atmosphere of its cafés.
“We’re kind of deprived down here for something like that,” he says.
The partners hope the joint venture, located near the Santa Monica Mountains, will serve as a hub for the cycling community and people who care about healthy living. In addition to the eatery and café, it will offer a bike repair stand and serve as a meeting point for several group rides each week.
10 Speed’s success depends on its ability to show L.A. residents that coffee can be about more than the drive-through windows and blended frappes, McGeeney says.
While Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago has set up a few shops in the area, the 10 Speed owner finds those cafés’ coffee-culture pretentious and inaccessible to the average Los Angelite.
“We’re hoping to bring education and a higher quality coffee experience to folks down there,” he explained. He wants his shop to be relaxed, friendly and a place where people can learn.
McGeeney plans to open two more cafés in L.A. over the next two years, and depending on their success, will decide whether to expand further.
Rettele has no doubt the L.A. market will embrace the Oregon roaster: “I know once we get them through the door, they’re ours.”