Welcome to Keep Roasting

Keep Roasting

A Kid and His Coffee

I’ve been a coffee drinker all my life.

As a kid I drank the usual mass produced coffee made in the usual automatic drip machines present in every household.

Back then, I would usually drink my coffee black with a couple teaspoons of sugar, with the occasional splash of evaporated milk.

That was my relationship with coffee for a long time.

It was something I loved to drink, but I knew very little about high quality coffee, and how to make it well.

A Change of Taste

As an adult I would start frequenting the usual chain coffee shops.

That was a gateway to discovering a whole world of specialty coffee shops and indie roasters once I moved to LA.

There was something about these places and their coffee that made it hard to go back to the chains.

My tastes began to change.

I was able to put words to the different flavors I was tasting, usually as short milk drinks.

Discovering Espresso

It wasn’t until a few years ago, while working in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), that my co-worker, a coffee hobbyist, introduced me to espresso shots.

Espresso drinks weren’t foreign to me, as I had frequented a few indie coffee shops around the city by then.

I already loved coffee shops for the ambience, especially on the days when I work I’d work remotely, or just to sit, sip, and chat with my girlfriend or a colleague.

Up until then, the thought of drinking espresso shots straight had never really appealed to me.

My co-worker suggested that as a coffee lover I might be interested, so I decided to try one with him on one of our many post lunch coffee stops.

The espresso shot that I tried that day with my co-worker was at Nice Coffee, an outdoor specialty coffee bar in City National Plaza in DTLA.

Upon ordering my espresso shot, the first thing that struck me was the experience.

I recall the barista brewing an espresso into a tiny (demitasse) cup and then pouring some Topo Chico sparkling mineral water into a small glass.

Seeing the barista gesture the two drinks toward me, felt sort of fancy and formal at the time, but it was customary, so I just went with it.

I started with some sips of the Topo Chico, and it was so sharp and crisp that it ended up becoming my preferred sparkling water from that day on.

My mouth was now ready for some espresso.

Having no experience with a quality espresso shot, I went into this experience preparing to taste what I could only imagine as extremely bitter coffee.

What I ended up tasting was a smooth, creamy, complex sip of coffee; with flavors ranging from nutty, to chocolatey, to a bit fruity.

I was pleasantly surprised, so much so that I wanted to try this at all the good coffee shops that I had been to, and that my co-worker could recommend.

On a side note, the espresso I had that day happened to be 49th Parallel Old School Espresso.

To date, I’ve had this particular coffee at Nice, Superba, Espresso Cielo, and other shops as well as pulled at home, and it turns out to be a very consistent espresso that I still enjoy to this day.

Coffee and the Pandemic

Getting back to the story, after having my first espresso at Nice, I went on to try a few more DTLA standouts near my job.

Some of my favorites in DTLA include Cognoscenti, Nossa, Verve, and Andante.

I loved how distinct and nuanced all these coffees were, so much that I’d visit these places for cappuccino in the morning, and for espresso after lunch before heading back to the office.

That was until early 2020 when Covid-19 hit and we were all forced to quarantine.

2020 ended up being a tough time for the coffee business and most of the coffee shops I frequented weren’t serving coffee at all for some period of time.

It was interesting because through my daily routine I had started building a rapport with the baristas at the various shops I’d visit so often.

The silver lining for coffee lovers and what has helped some of these businesses survive was that they doubled their efforts to facilitate curbside pickup and selling beans online.

At my job, many of us had already been working from home a couple days a week before quarantine, so my job transitioned a lot of us to working remote full time.

After a few months, of not being able to loiter in my favorite shops with a nice cup of coffee and free wifi, I broke down and purchased my first espresso machine.

I had been considering espresso machines for over a year prior to Covid-19, so this felt like the perfect opportunity to justify the purchase to myself and my significant other.

She has always been an iced latte type, although she has come around to drinking coffee with less and less milk and no sugar.

We settled on the Breville Barista Express.

Espresso at Home

This machine seemed like it would give us just enough flexibility to learn to make decent espresso, with a few training wheels to help us to not make terrible shots.

If you asked me today, I’d say that it gives us pretty much everything we need to make a solid, complex espresso at home for the price of an expensive gaming console.

A few weeks into owning the Barista Express, with the addition of a cheap coffee distributor tool, we were making consistent espresso at home using coffees we already knew and loved.

After a few months, we became pretty confident in our ability to dial in new coffees.

As we continue with new coffee experiences, we decided that we want to track them somewhere.

For us, this site serves as a diary of sorts, to remember the coffee, roasters, and shops we love.

To them we say Keep Roasting.

We’ll see you around.


Breville Barista Express Home Espresso Setup


Highwire Coffee Roasters Batak, Sumatra