The best part of waking up is now Stumptown Coffee Roasters in your cup, thanks to the long-awaited opening of AoSA Coffee. Late last year socially-conscious retail space AoSA Project announced their caffeine dream, and ever since then loyal cravers of the bean have been camped outside the Huntington Harbour Mall shop with empty cups in hand and dark circles growing under their eyes. Well, not exactly, but the neighborhood has been buzzing with excitement about this new addition, which fills a void in the area for a local, indie cafe.
Merging with the give-back retail store, which stocked its shelves with goods with a purpose, the 1,100-square-foot conscious coffeehouse launched its soft opening on March 10 on the heels of its brief pop-up cafe at a neighboring eatery. Since then AoSA has been slinging the Portland-headquartered cult coffee along with a range of handmade organic whole wheat, vegan, gluten-free and raw pastries baked fresh at Simply Layered in downtown HB. Shelves offering books and products from the likes of TOMS, Krochet Kids and Pura Vida Bracelets still line the walls, but now there's another reason to step inside the modern rustic haven.
There's free wi-fi and seating for 16, and the choices vary from tree stumps to wooden chairs draped in denim to stools. Specializing in reclaimed and recycled woodworking, AoSA fashioned all three tables inside the cafe out of the same redwood tree. One table readies a game of chess for two, while another invites six patrons to sit and sip communal-style. The third hugs the right wall and is equipped with five stools. Of course, no cafe in Southern California would be complete without outdoor seating, and at AoSA, a wooden table surrounded by two tree stumps and a wooden chair welcomes those in search of a latte or cookie.
Resembling the beloved minimalist menus of small coffee shops, the AoSA lineup changes seasonally. Aside from the standard cup o' joe, other traditional coffee offerings—espressos, Americanos, macchiatos, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas—are poured at the cafe, along with teas and hot chocolate. On tap are Stumptown Cold Brew, GT's Kombucha, coconut water and mate. Fancy sippers can even opt for a Chemex-style brew, the Massachusetts-based hourglass coffeemaker touted for making the perfect cup of coffee. Bags of Stumptown are also available to take home.
A variety of flavors can be reluctantly yet lovingly added to drinks by one of the bow tie-clad "artistas," including homemade caramel, chocolate, vanilla, chai and hazelnut syrups, as well as various shaved organic chocolates. For those seeking non-dairy creamers, AoSA obliges with coconut, almond and soy milk. Hemp milk will soon join the group of vegan whiteners.
Keeping in tune with its mission to enrich the local community via quality beverages, healthy eats and a creative environment, AoSA's decision to partner with Stumptown and its organic, direct trade and fair trade products was an easy one. Says AoSA General Manager Toby J. Keil of the beloved coffee purveyor, "They bring a wonderful element to single- and multi-origin coffees."
Keil and his team aim to bring together the local community with the new space, and they hope to further spread the love to local bellies with the launch of breakfast and lunch menus in the coming months. Says Keil, "Breakfast will be wholesome craft oatmeal, sandwiches and of course our fantastic baked goods from Simply Layered. Lunch will be paninis, soups and homemade veggie chips."
AoSA happily accommodates approximately 30 people sitting and 70 people standing, so the neighborhood can expect to see it develop as a small event space over the coming months. Open mic night will return with a twist, taking place every second Tuesday of the month all day long. A "Locals Only" project is also in the works, but Keil kept mum on the details. For now, stop by any day between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. to experience the new space and tastes, and mark your calendars for the three-day grand opening block party from April 25 through April 27.