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Groundwork Coffee Promotes Organic Coffee at a Historic LA Location

Coffee and Community Collide at the Lankershim Train Depot in North Hollywood

Written By: Bobby Anand Groundwork Coffee

As one of the purveyors in the third generation of coffee roasters, Groundwork was one of the first certified organic coffee roasters in Southern California and a pioneer in sustainable, relationship-based organic coffee sourcing. Today, Jeff Chean and Eddy Cola maintain these relationships by participating in numerous certification programs designed to promote ecological, social and economic health and welfare to communities around the world.  

Q:  What made you guys want to change the mainstream coffee demographic and pursue organic and sustainable coffee roasting?

Jeff Chean: Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, listening to KPFK and reading The Whole Earth Catalog, it would have been harder not to embrace organic and sustainable practices as core principles of our business than to do what came naturally and gravitate towards those standards.  

Q: How do you decide what goes within each location?

JC: We don’t want our stores to look like they are cookie cutter café clones. We look for neighborhoods with a strong sense of community. Within that community we look for buildings that are iconic or can/could act as hubs. If we can find an older building with a story, then all the better.

Q: Opening within the 120-year-old North Hollywood Train Depot location, how do you plan to refurbish this building and preserve the history associated with this iconic location?  

JC: We are firmly committed to building out a space that will stay true to the historic character of the building. In order to ensure that, we engaged a designer/general contractor who specializes in the restoration of unique older buildings: Wade Robinson of WadeCo Design. Wade was behind the restoration of the Idle Hour café on Vineland in North Hollywood and, most recently, at Highland Park Bowl (formerly Mr. T’s Bowl). Together with Wade and his team, we have been studying photos of restaurants that were active in the 1890s, looking for elements that we can bring into the design.

Q: Being located within the NoHo Arts District, do you plan on including artwork within this location directly from the legion of artists within the area?

JC: Absolutely. My partner Eddy developed our Indie Garage project, in which we show and sell artwork from artists within each store’s locality. We pride ourselves in working with local institutions to offer opportunities to students to practice their art at our stores. I hope that we can re-create the culinary vocation program we have with St. Joseph’s at our Rose Avenue store here in North Hollywood as well.

Q: Outside of this new North Hollywood location, what are you upcoming expansion plans for the year and beyond?

JC: On March 31st of this year, we bought Kobos Coffee Roasting Company with two cafés in Portland, Oregon. We fell in love with the city while attending a trade show (SCAA) there a few years ago. We found that the vibe of the neighborhoods and the people were very similar to Venice, Santa Monica and Hollywood. Well, similar if you factor out the weather, anyway. We felt right at home and knew that we would have to go to Portland one day. Then, through a chance meeting at the Fancy Food Show, my partner Eddy met the person representing Kobos. That chance meeting culminated, as I mentioned, in our acquiring the company.

In addition, we just signed a lease for the old Orange Bicycle store in what used to be called Bike Alley on Heliotrope and Melrose. Right now, with our projects in NoHo, Bike Alley and Portland, I think we’ve got our hands full for 2016.

Native Knowledge: When it comes to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, coffee is the third most sprayed agricultural crop in the world behind cotton and tobacco. Hence, Groundwork’s dedication to promote organic coffee.

Groundwork Coffee at the Lankershim Train Depot
11275 Chandler Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
All aboard the Groundwork Express!

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