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Fresh brewed: Joy Park, CEO (chief espresso officer) of Brew Coffee Bar at the Yahoo! Center, performs the pour over. (photo by Michael Ryan)

Patrolling the Santa Monica streets with fellow food writer Merv Hecht, a hot lead brought us to the Yahoo! Center on the east side of town. The complex is a major business hub with some high profile tenants like HBO, Apple and, of course, Yahoo. The massive structure has many amenities, but all inconspicuously self contained. So if you are just a passerby it is easy to be completely oblivious to everything that this place has to offer. 

Being at one of Santa Monica’s biggest business centers, we were conversely searching for one of the smallest and newest businesses in the entire complex. After some asking around we found The Brew Coffee Bar situated at one of the corners of the main plaza. Brew Coffee Bar is a specialty coffee shop along the lines of the more established Intelligentsia Coffee. Following in the same mantra, Brew Coffee is not just your standard cup of Joe, but more of a coffee experience.

Merv and I did not hold back, taking a whirlwind tour of the menu and really exploring the studio. Off the bat we were offered a complimentary sample of their French hot chocolate. Being so rich and thick, I labeled it more of a melted chocolate, while Merv wasted no time supplementing his sample with a shot of espresso making some sort of mocha concentrate. The tasting was indeed off to a good start.

Merv is the coffee connoisseur, while I consider myself more of a tea guy. I ordered an organic tea, more specifically the rooibos latte with tangerine accents and steamed milk. The flavors blended so well they reminded me of a Creamsicle. Very nice indeed. Merv had no interest, deeming it too sweet, but took to their cappuccino. He compared it to his favorite cappuccino at a small place in the south of France, his highest honor.

The whole coffee experience really comes into play when you opt for the pour over option. It is at the pour over station where we met co-owner Joy Park who talked to us about her desire to open up a specialty coffee place that has somewhat been lacking here in SoCal. I did not know what specialty coffee was until I started picking up all the little details Joy went through to create a cup. From presoaking the filter with hot water, to throwing a couple of beans in the grinder first to expel any staleness, to doing the actual pour over in increments, it all serves a purpose.

This is where the “experience” aspect of Brew Coffee is most noticeable. Personal one-on-one service is something that has long gone by the wayside, especially with something as matter-of-fact as a cup of coffee. For anyone really passionate about coffee, the pour over option is something I recommend. Although it was not quite strong enough for Merv’s robust palette, we both concluded no traces of acidity or any bitter aftertaste was a testament not only to good beans but the perfect pour.

The prices are not so much higher than your standard Starbucks and you seem to get a starkly better product. Plus, supporting a local upstart is much more fashionable than going the way of the corporate monster. The Yahoo! Center also offers wonderful indoor/outdoor seating and common areas and so many shops that neither Merv nor myself even knew existed. If you do indeed visit Brew Coffee Bar by way of automobile, make sure you have them validate your ticket. Do not learn the hard way with a $12 parking charge. Thankfully, Merv was driving.

If you go

Brew Coffee Bar

2425 Colorado Ave., Suite B 118

Santa Monica, Calif.

90404

(310) 635-3355

http://brewcoffeebar.com/

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, "Tour de Feast." To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.