The Refinery is an excellent shop in Santa Monica. They are a growing business that is quickly developing a solid reputation as an artisan coffee shop in the Los Angeles area. Although the Refinery has only been open for 4 months, their soft opening seems to have been fairly successful. In time, I can see them becoming something exceptional.
The aesthetics of the Refinery are unparalleled. In fact, the design may be the most impressive feature of the shop. It epitomizes chic; the black color scheme and linear architecture gives it an urbane, professional presence. It is almost more akin to an architect’s studio than a coffee shop; the seating is literally sleek wooden desks with circular workshop stools. This decor is complimented by elegant artistry; the paintings on the walls were done by local artists and their cups were crafted by a specialty ceramics company based in Oakland. While seemingly minuscule in comparison, I think their logo could make waves (see first photo background). Many people have told me that the key to any successful brand is a recognizable icon. The “oil-drop” is not only characteristically fitting but appropriately fashionable. Overall, the shop has a very mature and inviting atmosphere. The Refinery uses top of the line equipment and one of the best machines on the market; a Synesso Cyncra. It such a wonderful, functional centerpiece to any bar and especially fitting for this particular counter space.
The barista who served me was extremely cordial. We chatted about the local coffee scene, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles in general for well over an hour. What I appreciated most was her learning attitude and willingness to bounce ideas at me. Big cities are sometimes lacking in places with a truly welcoming vibe, especially trendy ones. Much to my chagrin, more and more coffee shops are devoid of “people” people. Almost seems like a crime. But The Refinery really nailed it with a great staff. Having a friendly baristas is always a reason for a second visit. Sometimes, it’s the only reason.
The Refinery sources its beans from Ritual, one of the best roasting companies in the Bay Area and possibly the country. While I cannot rave about Ritual enough, sourcing beans from such a distant location seems impractical. Utilizing their training techniques is an incredibly smart decision, but transporting beans across the state makes one wary of quality. However, it’s nice to have some variety besides Intelligentsia or Handsome.
My cap was pretty solid. The temperature was superb and the flavor was well defined: savory and heavy. It’s always wonderful to visit a shop that sources beans and somehow produces a drink with flavors that are distinct from the roaster. How a shop utilizes its bean is almost more important than what bean they chose to brew. The milk was smooth but a little foamy, though thoroughly it mixed with the espresso. The barista and I talked a lot about techniques, pouring, and consistency. After a while, I needed a second cap. She was kind enough to let me pour and I was able to show her a few little tricks. Always fun to share knowledge!
The Refinery is a new business that is still establishing itself as a coffee destination. They are a learning business and so far, they have done a terrific job. From its location to the Cyncra, the Refinery shows enormous potential and is poised to be another great shop in the West LA metroplitan area.
- The Cyncra
- The aesthetic
- The name and logo are so fitting
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Neighborhood: Santa Monica