What's Brewing at Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo

Bobby Roshan loves coffee. Not long ago, he worked as a lawyer in a Century City firm where he and his "Coffee Nuts" clan proclaimed that there is no good coffee close by. As enthusiasts who stay up to date on coffee trends and the brewing scene in Los Angeles, generic store beans only offended the palate, while the homogeneous brews of chains like Starbucks were boring at best.

Thus, trapped in the coffee version of what some health advocates call food deserts, Roshan began a hobby that begat Cafe Demitasse, the latest coffee shop in Little Tokyo.

On the grounds of its basic characteristics -- and by sheer coincidence -- Cafe Demitasse complements the culture and history of its surrounding community. The shop combines locally roasted beans from L.A. artisans like Cafecito, Portola's and Augies, with high-end brewing methods that coincidentally come from Japan -- a commonly renowned leader in coffee culture. Its pairing of local products with international influences aligns with Little Tokyo's continuous efforts to balance its burgeoning, multi-ethnic community with cultural assets of the Japanese American community.

Cafe Demitasse opened during Nisei Week 2011, a festival that began in some ways to encourage what Roshan and his shop represent -- an effort to maintain a young, exuberant, commercial sector in Little Tokyo. At the time, however, Roshan and his staff, flustered with grand opening anxieties, were ill-prepared to serve the volume of customers from festival goers and had no idea what they put themselves into.

But now they're ready. Cafe Demitasse has become a neighborhood staple for die-hard coffee fans and curious onlookers, lured by its display of glass chambers brewing tomorrow's coffee right by Weller Court. Inside the shop, the diversity of Little Tokyo, from Japanese businessmen and local politicians to longtime residents and hip youngsters, is reflected.

From Law Firm to Cafe
Owner Bobby Roshan discusses his transition from office drone to coffee maven.

Enjoy the sounds of coffee confessional love, Roshan's journey to Cafe Demitasse, and details on L.A.'s coffee scene in the audio slideshow and interviews above.

Photos by Sarah Silcox

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