Coffee That Bridges the Gap Between Cheap and Good

Some people like cheap coffee: the stuff that will open your eyes but not cost an arm and a leg. Others insist on good coffee: the stuff that is caringly sourced, carefully roasted. Now — wait for it — you can actually get both at once.

Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson serve really good coffee at LocoL, the small fast-food chain they opened last year on the West Coast with the aim of revolutionizing the fast-food industry. (The New York Times calls LocoL’s cuppa joe “clean and flavorful.”) But even though the coffee is, according to the Times, sourced from the same suppliers and roasted according to the same procedures as high-end coffee outfits like Intelligentsia and Stumptown, LocoL sells it for less than you might pay for a small cup of weak, watery bodega brew. It’s just $1 a cup, whether you drink it hot or cold, provided you take it black. If you want it with milk and sugar, you’ll pay 50 cents extra.

LocoL, which has locations in the Watts section of Los Angeles, as well as two shops in Oakland, California, and a truck, was founded on the promise of bringing “wholesomeness, deliciousness and affordability” in underserved neighborhood, according to the chain’s website. (Choi once compared the concept of the restaurant to Danish design: aesthetically high-minded but targeted to everyday use.) And now it seems to be targeting something similarly disruptive in the coffee industry, introducing a coffee brand called Yes Plz.

Initially, Yes Plz coffee — a blend called “The Mix” (promising “no corners cut”) — will be sold in 12-ounce bags for between $8 and $9 through LocoL’s existing locales, with a broader rollout (delivery, online availability, possibly a subscription model) down the line.

Tony Konecny, who heads up LocoL’s coffee initiative, told the Times he was hoping to bring “an extreme democratization” to the world of coffee, bringing good coffee to more people, rather than the usual caffeine snobs. After all, for those who think broad appeal is synonymous with selling out, he points out, “everybody wears Levi’s.”

And if it works for jeans, why shouldn’t it work for beans?

Photo courtesy of @yesplzlocol

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