In the NoHo Arts District, just a block away from the DRS and Associates headquarters, lies Groundwork Coffee’s Californian roasting facility. We were intrigued by the delicious aroma of coffee beans roasting in the middle of our work days, and it’s always interesting to learn more about the various diverse and creative businesses that make their home in NoHo, so we decided to take a field trip to learn more about what our neighbors up to.
In a truly neighborly fashion, they welcomed us into their front office with the latest in coffee technology: canned cold brews, which use nitro to give the coffee a smooth, creamy taste — almost like a Guinness. This was just what we needed after walking through North Hollywood on a summer day!
Our tour guide Meredith, Groundwork’s Brand Ambassador, gave us a brief education on their history. Groundwork began in the counterculture hub of Venice Beach in 1991, initially selling both coffee and books. They quickly realized that they were better at the former and got out of the book business. Given the fate of so many brick-and-mortar bookstores, this strikes one as a presciently wise decision.
Fast-forward to the present day and they’ve seen huge growth. They now have roasters both here in NoHo and in Portland, Oregon. They recently opened a new retail location in North Hollywood’s beautiful 125-year-old train depot, one of several coffee shops they run around LA (others can be found in Santa Monica, DTLA and, of course, at their original location in Venice). They have distribution deals with major grocery stores like Whole Food and Bristol Farms. They’ve even been the coffee of choice at prestigious award shows like the Oscars, the Emmys and the Grammys.
But Groundwork isn’t content to just be successful, they also have a strong sense of social responsibility. Like many Californians, Groundwork is concerned with their impact on the world around them. That’s why they use solar-powered roasting technology to decrease emissions.
They also have an admirable concern for the health and wellness of the communities they work with. All their coffee is fairly traded: that means they pay above-market rates to ensure that their growers are able to enjoy making quality livelihoods working in safe conditions. This is part of their way of giving back to the farmers that produce their beans. They’ve even gone so far as to create an interest-free revolving credit line for the community of growers they work with in Colombia, in order to help them meet their short-term cash flow needs.
Additionally, all of Groundwork’s flavorful beans are USDA certified organic. This certification guarantees that the communities that produce their coffee are not exposed to harmful pesticides or other chemicals. Customers can rest easy knowing that their exquisite coffee doesn’t come at the expense of struggling workers in the developing world.
The good people at Groundwork were kind enough to provide us with a short tour of their facility, a coffee lover’s dream come true. We are especially jealous of their break room, which features their cold brew coffee on tap!
As a parting gift, they gave us several varieties of of their tasty roasted coffee beans to sample. These beans come from communities of suppliers around the world. For example, their Colombian beans are produced by AMUCC, an association of female coffee growers. All the beans they gave us were delicious, but the most popular around the DRS and Associates office is the Organic Mexico MOCABE, a creamy light roast with hints of chocolate and tamarind.
We’re always glad to see our NoHo neighbors doing well, especially when they are this good at what they do. Be sure to check out Groundwork the next time you are in the mood for world-class coffee.
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