Upping the Ante on Sustainability

Since Bar Nine started, one of our founding goals was to do whatever we could to make a positive difference in the world around us. On the sustainability side, in addition to being partially solar powered, we have been so proud of offering our Glass Jar takeaway program. It's very simple, we give the guest the jar on their visit, and ask them to return it the next time they come in. It has been a huge success. We see somewhere between 50-60% of our jars returned, which is really amazing, but we feel that is only a first step.

Our dream: to see a 100% return rate on our glass takeaway program. It is an ambitious idea, but we are ambitious people, and we are confident we can create a context to achieve that goal.

Our plan moving forward is simple. Starting January 1st, upon return of your Glass Jar, we will cover 25 cents toward your next drink. It's our way of saying thank you for helping to not contribute to the massive waste problem from coffee bars around the world. In that same vein, we will also be offering 25 cents off your drink if you bring in your own re-usable takeaway cup.

1 disposable coffee cup thrown away is a small thing in isolation, however over 1 billion cups are thrown away each year from coffee bars alone. There are some areas where we can all make big changes to our every day lives and routines to help the peril facing our planet, and there are some smaller areas like this. By acting together, the total sum of our actions can make a huge difference.

Now Poppin: LA's Bar Nine Coffee at Amara Kitchen

Originally appeared on

Written by Tatiana Ernst

Walk through LA’s Highland Park nowadays and you’ll see a wave of new coffee shops and restaurants. Most sit on York Boulevard or Figueroa Street, main drags where you’ll find a diverse mix of old and new businesses. But sometimes you want to relax somewhere more off the beaten path. This is where you’ll find organic restaurant Amara Kitchen, tucked away on a quieter, mostly residential street, and inside Amara Kitchen, a temporary new outpost for the cafe/roaster Bar Nine.

Bar Nine owner Zayde Naquib met the Amara team as both were starting their businesses early in 2014. Naquib says that Amara Kitchen was one of the first places to serve Bar Nine’s roasts before it even opened as a shop. When Amara completed some renovations this year, creating a more spacious restaurant, Naquib saw an opportunity to join in. He says that along with the expansion, Amara “had been wanting to elevate their coffee service. We realized very organically through conversation we could do a joint pop-up—Amara doing brunch in our cafe and us bringing our coffee service to theirs. It’s a really cool partnership between two like-minded businesses.”

A welcoming location for work, meetings, or just for enjoying good coffee and food, Amara Kitchen is more intimate than Bar Nine’s cafe in Culver City, according to Naquib. “It’s got such a great neighborhood-cafe feel, but one that’s elevated and interesting. Our bar in Culver very much feels [like you’re] on the floor of the roasting works, especially as we’ve gotten busier with production.”

Naquib likens the thorough yet tightly fitted bar setup to jidoka—a Japanese concept that translates as “automation with a human touch.”

“I really want to see if we can rethink the role of the barista in the coffee bar,” he says, “have them focus on monitoring production, and focusing our training in the way you’d develop skills as a sommelier, with a little less on the technical side of making coffee.” One interesting way he does this is by removing the need for grinding beans for the Marco Jet batch brew by using what he says are “nitrogen-flushed packets of ground coffee that we dial in at our headquarters in Culver City. If a coffee tastes best four days off roast, that’s the taste we’re preserving with our packets, which we refresh weekly.” Without a batch-brew grinder on the premises, the pop-up has room for both a La Marzocco Linea PB and a La Marzocco Vulcano Swift grinder.

The menu here is simple—espresso, drip, and an iced coffee that Naquib mentions is a “hot-over-ice brew.” For a milk alternative, Bar Nine has access to Amara Kitchen’s house-made cashew-almond milk. On my visit, I met with Evan Damkoehler, Bar Nine’s director of education, who made me a delicious latte with Amara’s nut-hybrid milk, praising its texture and solid steaming quality.

Another alternative—and admirable—move is in the takeaway cups. “The glass takeaway cups are a big hit,” says Damkoehler. The screw-top containers are reusable, attractive, and practical, the kind of thing we’ll see more of as coffee continues to embrace sustainable goods.

For now, Naquib says the pop-up will run for six months, with the possibility of it turning into a permanent “satellite location.” It’s a bit of an experiment for Naquib, who hopes to expand the jidoka concept through his wholesale partners. “Imagine tasting the exact same extractions all over Los Angeles in cafes, restaurants, and more,” he says. “I think we can achieve a level of consistency that can currently only be found in the Starbucks and Peet’s of the world, but with some of the best coffees produced seasonally and developed to their optimal potential. If our partners can focus on what makes them special, and we can deliver the coffee quality, I think we can help create some really amazing guest experiences. The pop-up is in many ways the proof of concept of this idea.”

Bar Nine at Amara Kitchen is located at 519 North Avenue 64, Los Angeles. Visit their official website and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Tatiana Ernst (@TatianaErnst) is a Sprudge staff writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Tatiana Ernst on Sprudge.

Bar Nine's Jidoka-Inspired Los Angeles Pop Up

Originally appeared on

Written by Zac Cadawalder

I love a good pop-up, and Los Angeles’ Bar Nine is adding an interesting twist to the temporary coffee bar. Inspired by the Japanese manufacturing concept known as Jidoka, which translates to “automation with a human touch,” Bar Nine is ditching many of the manual processes in coffee making in favor of automation, allowing more focus to be on hospitality.

For their six-month pop-up at Highland Park’s Amara Kitchen, Bar Nine is implementing pre-ground, nitro-flushed coffee packets for batch brew, espresso grinders with automated dosing and tamping, and an espresso machine with pre-programmed weight-based yield. The goal of taking what many would consider to be the art of barista-ing is to create a quieter, less messy bar that also allows the barista to focus more singularly on the customer service aspects of the job, to have “hospitality to be the thing that is felt first and foremost” as Bar Nine puts it.

The service-forward idea for a coffee bar is nothing new, but Bar Nine’s introduction of the Jidoka concept is a new wrinkle. It’s definitely worth checking out for anyone in the greater L.A. area.

Bar Nine’s six-month Amara residence began last Wednesday and is open 8:00am to 4:00pm daily.