I didn’t know what to expect, which was likely why I’d never stopped to try out the new coffee shop on the block. Why had no one in my coffee-loving circle suggested this before? It’s mentioned on Thrillist’s Things to Do in Manhattan Beach and South Bay, but the change in name somehow felt discouraging (it was previously The Fika Company, as noted in Eater’s article from around this time last year, The South Bay’s Newest Coffee Roaster Looks to Make Waves in Redondo).
The Location & Atmosphere:
After a countless number of times driving by, with curiosity arising every passing, when my childhood friend, Jessica, asked if I wanted to grab a coffee at The Boy & The Bear while waiting for our table across the street at Eat At Joe’s, I jumped at the opportunity. The three of us ordered the pour-over coffee, as this seems to be what they’re known for, if for nothing more than it’s presentation combining art and science: from copper gooseneck kettles to glass beakers. I asked if the copper from the kettle and filters was selected for any specific reason, such as an effect on the taste, etc., and she noted that they use all copper to be consistent for branding purposes, as the logo of a boy riding a bear is also the same metallic copper.
My respect for The Boy & The Bear only increased when I saw they have their own roaster within the shop, as it really lets you know that they understand the importance of small batch coffee. The large space felt inviting; there were large groups of people coming for their daily coffee, both for here & to go, yet it never felt loud or too crowded to be uncomfortable. It’s both a great place to sit with a good book and meet up with friends for casual conversation. We sat on the wooden benches outside, and because of my luck it started to drizzle. The large umbrella protected us enough for a while, until it started to pour and we opt’d to go inside; luckily this gave me the opportunity to geek out and further explain the pour-over process to Jess and her beau.
Jessica and I both chose the Luz Gonzalez specialty Colombian coffee, supporting the female coffee grower of shade-grown coffee plants 1,730 meters above sea level. They had four different specialty coffees to choose from, and I was attracted to Luz from the tasting note of “Peach like sweetness” from the display board. Although it was a boutique, I felt the coffee was disappointing, weak, and lacking the flavor I was hoping for. Even though Jessica and I ordered the same coffee, it was made by different baristas, and mine was significantly more bitter and bland. It was supposed to have a creamy medium body, but it felt and tasted closer to a light roast, possibly due to the lack of attention to the water quantities and temperature. Unfortunately it didn’t have any of the exciting stone-fruit tasting notes, which I was expecting from seeing “Peach” in the “Notes in Cup” description. I did enjoy the sugar cane after taste, and it was a pleasant drinking experience, but I would opt for a different variety on my next visit.
The friendly barista preparing my coffee was new and wasn’t sure of the exact water temperature (she said it was somewhere between 180-200 degrees for all pour-over coffees) but she did check the grind size when I asked; it was a 8 on the scale of 1-11. They use a 1:15 ratio for coffee to water, while the gram quantity of beans differs based on which coffee they’re using.
Before pouring your coffee in the cup, they first pour water in the ceramic for heating purposes.
Then they pour your coffee into both the glass beaker and cup for your leisurely enjoyment!
The South Bay of Los Angeles (aka the “Beach Cities”) really need additional coffee shops, as Two Guns Espresso and The Boy & The Bear Specialty Coffee Roastery are not enough to service the coffee-loving community out here!