Two Guns Espresso - Manhattan Beach, CA
Two Guns - A Local Coffee Hub to a Hidden Gem
Eric had also been a news reporter in a previous lifetime. And it was during this career, he landed on a story that was about Two Guns Espresso. And after a few meetings with the owners, he found himself being a part of the story he was once telling.
He soon discovered that this coffee shop served up so much more than some damn good espresso.
"Two Guns has provided a hub for the community that they might have lacked before," said Pharrel.
"It’s a central meeting place - a place to make friends. It’s a place I've personally witnessed people get together and develop friendships and relationships. It's been a good launch pad for business-minded people. It's really interesting to see the crowd of the South Bay in here."
The moment you walk into Two Guns, you instantly feel relaxed. It's okay to let your guard down, it's okay that you're a surf bum or corporate king, and it's okay that your coffee order isn't a Geisha pour-over. You've instantly welcomed - a long, overdue moment in the city of Angels.
"The South Bay is the least known and most underrated part of LA. and it hasn’t been bulldozed by other stereotypes, it’s stayed true to itself. That’s why South Bay is kind of a hidden gem. It has been long known for being more laid back and relaxed community within all of L.A. and I think Two Guns espresso definitely represents that."
And from the beginning that unique culture was created with intent to serve the customer.
"When Two Guns was founded it was founded by someone with a background in hospitality - not with a background in coffee. And from the very get-go making somebody’s day was about providing an experience, not providing a product. That’s not to say we don’t have a great product. The product was learned. But being a really nice human being was just something that was innate."
The founders of Two Guns are Kiwi's, or New Zealand natives. Their signature drink, the Flat White, and its origin is somewhat of a controversy between their neighboring Aussies. (I am not going to dive into what is a Flat White because this guy does it best, and only when you glance at the comments you can truly understand how grave and complex this international Flat White debacle is. And if that wasn't enough for you can read about how this Australian café owner is the "original Flat White enthusiast" while feeling like you're being scolded by an elementary school teacher.)
Anyway, while we let the two sort out the proper origins, Americans have become great consumers of the Flat White.
I was so happy to have photographer @SarahVelezPhotography join me on this visit as my caffeinated partner-in-crime. You can view more of her work at www.http://sarahvelezphotography.com/
"Kiwi Cafe," Pharrell pauses briefly as he enters the Flat White hot-button topic...
"There’s kind of sort of this big argument of who invented the Flat White between the Kiwi’s and the Aussie’s. We stand by the fact that Kiwi’s do it best. So, we are are a Kiwi-styled café," he says.
"Our signature drink is a Flat White. It’s stronger. It’s got a bigger kick to it. Good things come in small packages," he explains.
"It's not American sized 24 oz. latté, but that kind of theme flows through our entire menu. Like the Avocado toast - before it ever hit the U.S. it was a huge thing in Australia and other parts of the world. So we brought a little piece of that culture here. And as a result, we have become a little hub for the English, Aussies, Kiwi’s - everybody that just lands at LAX they take a bus down PCH and land right here."
There is no denying, that it's the Kiwi Roots that helped this coffee shop also helped create its brand as an incredible food and pastry establishment.
"I think one of the biggest reasons that we have also been successful is that we morphed from a coffee shop to a café. When the business first started we were just serving coffee and having pastries flown in from the local bakeries. All of the sudden we made the jump to make our own goods and make our own foods. And all of the sudden we are on the Best List for Coffee. We were on the Best List for Food."
Currently, Two Guns roasts with Delano's - a Seattle-based roastery. Pharrell says this was the next logical step to align with their growth as a small business.
"Right now we have a coffee that we keep on drip called Coast. It’s a single origin coffee from Columbia. And it’s just really, really nice. It has that sweet floral note to it. It kind of kicks you on the back of your tongue, kind of like a good jasmine tea does. And our drip coffee has just grown exponentially. It’s just so delicious."
"I think we are on the verge of taking the next steps of competitions. I’m hearing talks of us being able to ship our coffee, possibly compete in barista competitions... there are some big things coming our way."