Civil Coffee is only a few cities over from where I live, so coming in for a latte was a no-brainer. I had recently been talking to my friend Kenturah Davis about Highland Park food options so I suggested we meet there for coffee and breakfast one morning. Located on Figueroa Blvd, one of the main drags in Highland Park, the first thing I noticed when entering Civil Coffee was how bright and beautiful the space was. Kenturah and I both ordered the bacon shitake mushroom avocado toast (vegetarian), and I added a organic soft-boiled egg to my plate. Our coffees were on-point, the mood right, and we spent the next four hours chatting about traveling, music, and art. As we sat there stimulated for hours, I took notice of the clientele that walked through the door, who are clearly a part of this "new" Highland Park. Being a Mexican American woman from 12 minutes away, it was noticeable how quickly this community is changing. One of my major fears - for communities like Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights - is that Latinxs are going to be squeezed out entirely to make room for luxurious new spaces and avocado toast.
As soon as I got home I started texting a friend of mine who lives in Highland Park to give her a full report as I began to upload my photos from breakfast. I started in on gentrification and going on about gringos, when she interrupted to say, "did you know Civil Coffee is owned by two Latino brothers?" I clenched my chest. Dios mio! Then she slam dunked on my brain when she said "the interior was designed by a Latina who is also a Highland Park resident." Thank goodness for friends who will remind you why real journalism matters. I took to the web to gather any nuggets I could about Civil Coffee, because with this new information, I was totally hyped to read about the Latinx business owners! Better yet, I decided I would return the next morning to chat with the brothers myself.
On my return to Civil Coffee, both Alex and Alan (the owners) recognized me from the day before, mentioning they had seen me taking lots of photos. I introduced myself and began telling them why I had to come back, and that I was hoping I could chat with them. They graciously said yes.
Born in Mexico and raised in Glendale and Burbank, the Morales brothers have been hustling hard in the coffee world for years. Before opening Civil Coffee, they were pouring up at parties and events with their very own cart, while simultaneously running a coffee program at a cafe in Hollywood. How did their love of coffee motivate them to get them to where they are today? After becoming fans of Intellgentsia during its heyday, they moved to Portland to study the art of coffee and cut their teeth. Interestingly, the coffee they are brewing in Highland Park, Heart Roasters and Cova Coffee, are both Portland favorites. Upon their return to L.A., they were among the original team at Handsome Coffee under the guidance of Tyler Wells, whom they speak so positively about as a mentor in the coffee landscape.
Building up to their opening, Civil Coffee began serving up free cups of coffee to the people of Highland Park on the weekend. They teamed up with Panaderia Delicia, a local panadería, to serve complimentary pan dulce with their brews; they were simultaneously connecting and building with their neighbors while announcing their arrival. That's the kind of entrepreneurial spirit I appreciate! Seeing fellow Latinxs grind (no pun intended) and thrive while being considerate of their community is something that inspires and motivates me to the utmost. The Morales brothers' hard work and focus is undeniable, and I look forward to giving them as much business as I can.
Civil Coffee | 5629 N Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042