While driving back from a boxing class in Torrance, I glanced out my window just in time to see the word “roastery” plastered on the corner of PCH and Carnelian. Even though Wimbledon was waiting for me back at home, I couldn’t fight the urge to pull over and investigate this place which, as it turns out, opened just one day prior. Even from a block away, one could tell that this establishment was offering something different—was trying to be something different—among the dare I say stale and predictable South Bay coffee scene. The congregation of wooden seats idling outside conjured up images of the urban planning common in Venice, Santa Monica, and Culver City. Once inside, I was transported again to a different city: San Francisco. The oversized, buttery leather couches, minimalist mixed with industrial design, extended bar running the length of the room, and beautiful bronze drippers igniting energy against the inky tones surrounding them. Oh baby, Oh baby. And the pastries and tiny chocolates assembled like pieces of gallery art? That was the final indicator that I had entered into $5 cup of coffee territory and wipe that confused look off your face, these beans are 100% Arabica! land.
But I could play this game. Heck, I’ve played this game all over the country, from the flagship Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, IL. to La Colombe Coffee Roasters (whose ‘draft latte’ is the best I’ve ever had) in Washington, D.C. I just worry that my fellow beach brethren will feel discomfort and reject this notion of third-wave coffee in favor of service that is fast and furious. To be honest, I was a little confused myself as to where to physically order*, as well as what items they offered. It’s funny when you realize just how reliant we have become on posted menus. A menu serves as a retail compass, navigating us through the process of ordering, paying, and picking-up. But that’s not how things are done in this shop. It’s refreshing.
While adding a dollop of cream to my cup, I learned that the concept of Fika Roasting Company is born from Swedish principles and Colombian-grown beans. Talking with the barista (followed by internet research later at home) taught me that in its most basic form, Fika (pronounced “fee-ka”) means “to have coffee”, often accompanied by pastries or sandwiches. Beyond that, it means having a break with one’s colleagues, friends, date or family. A time-out to connect socially—similar to observing afternoon tea in the United Kingdom. I had no idea that the practice of taking a break is so central to Swedish life…I must return to my homeland…Learning about another culture while traveling is perhaps the best gift you can give yourself, yet learning little details here and there within your own bubble—and when you least expect it—is pretty darn satisfying, too.
I invite you to visit Fika Roasting Coffee and experience it all for yourself. Insider tip: they are supposed to be serving traditional Swedish pastries on Saturdays and Sundays.
*Since writing this article, FRC has added menus for display, as well as changed their official name to “The Boy & The Bear Coffee”