Wherever we travel, we are always on a hunt for a coffee shop. We look for local coffee shops and try to steer clear of chains. We especially like it if they roast their own beans. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, we spent some time in Beverly Hills, and we came across Aharon Coffee & Roasting Co..
Right off Wilshire Blvd, on Charleville Blvd sits the quaint coffee shop. Straight away, you see a roasting machine, along with lots of coffee beans. One look at the menu, and it is evident there is something special here, as they serve homemade almond-hazelnut milk.
One day, we started speaking with a gentleman behind the counter about the coffee, and he suggested we try the iced hazelnut latte that includes their homemade milk and also their homemade hazelnut syrup. Not only did this choice did not disappoint and has become our go-to when stopping here but come to find out, we were speaking to Aharon Vaknin himself. When we discovered this, we had to find out more about the roasting machines and our new favorite coffee drink.
“I roast the coffee with the consciousness that I want to create a joyful experience for the end-user. It is my desire the experience at our café should never be only ‘standard’ with such awesome, fresh-roasted coffee. Personally, I think every aspect of crafting a coffee beverage will influence the final experience of the drink. So we make the maximum effort in all areas – sprouting our almonds and hazelnuts to craft our almond-hazelnut milk; making from scratch the caramel from heavy whipping cream, butter and sugar; [making the] hazelnut syrup from roasting hazelnuts in-house; [making the] mocha using 100 percent pure cacao powder from Belgium; and [making the] vanilla using Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, splitting them in half and scraping all of the seeds to craft our fresh vanilla.”
“I roast the coffee with the consciousness that I want to create a joyful experience for the end-user.”
Whenever we spoke with Vaknin, his passion for coffee was evident. How he came to being a coffee entrepreneur is almost like a Hollywood movie.
“The enjoyment of consuming coffee led me to pursue more small subtle experiences with coffee. This, in turn, brought me to a place where I started to do research on which coffee grinder I needed to purchase for my home,” Vaknin shared.
He then spent a few months continuing to research coffee grinders, as he was finding so much pleasure in learning more about coffee. When he was finally ready to purchase his coffee grinder, he realized he did not want to stop there, as he also wanted to roast his own beans.
“I had been infused with so much information regarding how to satisfy my enjoyment of coffee, I wanted to have the right tools and equipment that would give me this level of enjoyment,” Vaknin commented. “All that brought me to nerd on my coffee process more and more, including me bugging my local roaster to please roast his coffee a little differently for me. I realized I didn’t have the right to ask him to change the way he was roasting. I decided to do research on home coffee roasters. At this point, I was all pumped up and did not want to take another 3 months to research – I wanted my roaster!”
Vaknin would then go on to audition for a TV casting company who was seeking real people that wanted to open a pop-up cafe. And, to ensure he knew how to roast the coffee beans once he got a coffee roaster, he took a course in the closest place he found – Panama.
Vaknin continued, “The stars continued to align and many other miracles happened. But when I was in Bouquete, Panama, the coffee that I was drinking was so amazing and so yummy and so juicy, that the first phone call I made to my wife back home in Los Angeles, I knew and she knew then and there: this is what we were going to do – we were going to do coffee. I love coffee.”
“[I knew] this is what we were going to do – we were going to do coffee. I love coffee.”
What may have started as a passion for coffee, has grown into other items. Last time we were at Aharon Coffee, we got to see the vegan meals they were preparing.
“We are developing a new food program that is 100 percent plant-based. Today I was working with my in-house chef and tasting the most delicious vegan gluten-free chocolate chip cookie you could imagine. Oh. My. God. For real. We also have a coconut yogurt with sprouted superfood granola that we bake here in-house, a Cacio de Pepe kelp noodle salad, matcha overnight oats, and more. And we will keep developing this program. Very challenging but very exciting. Just like life,” Vaknin shared.
With so many options at his fingertips, we had to ask Vaknin how he took his coffee?
“In the morning, I like regular drip coffee – when I change different regions such as Ethiopia or Indonesia or Costa Rica, the flavor notes are so different. And it’s still 100 percent black coffee – super yummy. In the afternoon, an espresso. And for fun, once in a while, a Turkish coffee.”
Although we are back on the East Coast as we write this interview, we are thinking back fondly of our beloved iced hazelnut latte. And, we cannot help but remember these words Vaknin said to us when we asked him what was the most rewarding part about owning his own coffee shop.
“To service people and see them experience the joy of coffee.”
Visit Aharon Coffee & Roasting Co. at aharoncoffee.com where you can also purchase his in-house roasted coffee beans. And, when you are in Los Angeles, be sure to say hello to the Aharon Coffee Team from MalenDyer for us!