Regent Coffee poured onto York Boulevard in December 2022. According to owner Leon Nie, Regent Coffee has another location in Glendale which opened in 2017 and was funded from everyone — family, ex-coworkers and university classmates.
Nie said he named the York location “Brew and Bottle House,” because it is dedicated to serving a product he developed during the COVID-19 pandemic: Bourbon Barrel Aged Cold Brew. Coffee Review assessed the drink as being “addictively compelling.”
“When the pandemic started, we tried to keep the business alive, but it still inevitably hit all the restaurant businesses,” Nie said. “So finally, we took the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and used it to move ahead.”
The SBA offered a series of COVID-19 relief options during the pandemic, and Regent Coffee was eligible for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Nie said he decided to take a long shot and use the SBA relief as an opportunity to develop their Bourbon Barrel Aged Cold Brew and sell that online.
Ashwin Kumar is a 6-year customer of Regent Coffee, and he said he has been coming to Regent’s new location in York ever since its grand opening. Kumar is a big fan of a traditional macchiato, which according to him, is a double shot of espresso with equal amounts of milk that is mostly foam. He said the macchiato served at Regent is very authentic.
“Back in 2017, I went back to Glendale after a year of traveling,” Kumar said. “I was looking for a coffee shop that serves authentic macchiato without syrup, and I found Regent Coffee online.”
Kumar and Nie became friends over the years.
“I come here very regularly, almost daily,” Kumar said. “Leon likes to run around when he’s not working, so we run together every now and then. We actually went running yesterday.”
Nie said it is nice to see an old friend around.
For Nie, York Boulevard is more than hipsters and fashion. Nie said he sees his coffee shop as being part of the York community. He said another way to engage with his customers is through interactive and educational weekend activities.
“We are bringing back our weekend coffee-tasting sessions, so people can have some fun on their day off,” Nie said.
Regent Coffee is also engaged in sustainable waste management. Through another local business owner who grows mushrooms, Nie learned that coffee grounds are great for growing organic mushrooms. According to Nie, his coffee grounds are also helping out another neighbor who does home gardening.
“I make roughly 100 liters a week, and we use 7 kilograms of coffee for each batch,” Nie said. “This leaves us with a lot of coffee grounds afterwards, and I am happy that they do not go to waste. So we’ve been working with our neighbors who reached out to us since we opened.”
According to Sarah Carbonel (junior), one of the Bruce Steele Garden managers of the Food, Energy, and Sustainability Team (FEAST) at Occidental College, FEAST has also been collecting coffee grounds from Regent Coffee every two weeks for free.
“We get 20 to 30 pounds of used coffee grounds from Leon every time, and we use it as chicken bedding,” Carbonel said. “The coffee grounds are really useful because they are a soft material that’s not dusty. They smell good, and their fragrancy deters bugs, like flies. They also reduce the ammonia that is released by the chicken droppings.”
Through interactions with community members, Regent Coffee is making more than just coffee.
“We want to be the local coffee brewery that grows with our neighbors together,” Nie said.
Contact Renee Ye at email@example.com