Okay, maybe that's slightly dramatic, but lattes and the like are about to get some major caffeinated competition in Los Angeles. That’s because MatchaBar—which claims to be the first café in the country to focus on the buzzy, ceremonial-grade green tea—is branching out of New York City for the first time, with a new location set to open in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood on February 4.
"We’re not just trying to build up ourselves; we want to build up the entire category."
“We started our brand in New York with the idea that matcha was a better [source of] energy,” says Graham Fortgang, who founded the company with his brother, Max. “Our tagline is ‘good things come to those who hustle,’ so we’re really excited for the huge opportunity to fuel the hustle on the West Coast, too.” In other words, cold brew better watch its back.
Keep reading for more intel on MatchaBar’s first location outside of New York City.
New city, new menu
Up until now, Angelenos could only get the MatchaBar goods at Alfred or Whole Foods, where the brand's line of bottled matcha brews recently debuted (Don’t panic, westsiders, you’ll still be able to get your fix at those locations going forward.) But there’s a strong argument for taking a field trip to MatchaBar’s LA home base, since its menu is as innovative (and Instagram-friendly) as it gets.
Offerings will include all of the NYC favorites—like the iced watermelon basil that launched a thousand social media posts—but you can also expect a few only-in-LA surprises. “We’re adding some sparkling iced drinks to the menu, which we haven’t done in New York because they’re so seasonal,” says Max. (First up: a fizzy cucumber lime matcha.)
He’s also experimenting with new fruit juice-and-matcha combos and adventurous lattes (one mixed with Harmless Harvest coconut water, another with a turmeric-ginger blend).
But that’s not to say the drinks are all style and no substance—the matcha itself is really good. “We partner with a single family farm in Japan that we visit every year for the spring harvest,” Graham points out. “We bring some of the best quality matcha in the entire country to our cafes.”
Design of the times
The drinks list isn’t the only thing that’s different on both coasts; the SoCal location looks a lot different from its cousins in NYC. “We wanted the LA store to reflect that upbeat, motivated feeling matcha gives you,” explains Graham.
In place of the East Coast shops’ cozy wood-and-brick interiors, the Silver Lake location features bright white walls both inside and out, Carrara marble countertops, and bold contrasting patterns on the walls and bar. Another West Coast perk: Guests will be able to sip their teas on a sidewalk-facing patio, which will eventually be jazzed up with a custom art installation.
Next stop, bicoastal domination
Add in a full breakfast and lunch menu created in collaboration with Highland Park’s Amara Kitchen—think grain bowls, egg pots, and avocado toast made with bread from Gjusta in Venice—and it’s clear that the brothers Fortgang are taking their LA foray seriously. Silver Lake, however, is only the beginning.
“We’ll definitely be opening a second LA store by summer time, and we’re expanding our wholesale program [in New York and LA] so you’ll be able to find our matcha in a few new spots,” Graham says. “We’re trying to set a standard for the rest of LA and show people what a proper matcha is. We’re not just trying to build up ourselves; we want to build up the entire category.” Coffee shops, you've been warned.
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