Though they opened back in 2016, I didn’t discover Eightfold Coffee until two years later. Since then, I’ve made up for lost time. In late 2018 the farther reaches of Echo Park began to feel more like home to me, and I moved to the neighborhood in early 2019. I’m not saying I moved there because of a coffee shop, but driving 15 minutes down Sunset from Silver Lake every day just to get a cup of cold brew? That wasn’t very sustainable. Last year was full of big risks for me — one being quitting my full-time job to start this very magazine — and my brain seized upon small, familiar rituals during a time of constant upheaval.
Going to Eightfold every morning (or afternoon, if it’d been a late night) became a comforting part of my routine, and the quality of the coffee played no small role in how frequently I came back. Before I got hooked on drinking their iced coffee black, my first love on the menu was the Eightfold Cold Brew, a perfect blend of creamy-cold oat milk, coffee concentrate, and maple syrup. Actually, shout out Ben Willis, of the neighboring management company Indie-Pop, for not only taking me to Eightfold for the first time but introducing me to this drink — even if I now prefer the darker, less sweet option.
With an airy, minimalist aesthetic and impossibly cool baristas, the cozy mood of the shop isn’t just great for meetings and interviews, but also for escaping the slow rush of the city, the creeping stress of my deadlines, and the residual effects of blowing up my life. But even if you weren’t looking for an escape from the stress of starting a business, Eightfold is such a beautifully zen spot, that creative folks are constantly flocking there in droves. They have a whole wall of print publications available for sale or perusal, and other local totems like the cult-favorite P.F. Candles and occasional succulents in little terra cotta pots.
The beautiful feel of the space unsurprising given its owner, Sooran Kim, graduated from the prestigious arts college Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, if you know) and designed Eightfold with input from her artistic friends and peers — and a heavy dose of influence from John Maeda’s Laws Of Simplicity. Speaking of philosophy, yes, the name is taken from the Eightfold Path, a Buddhist teaching that, if followed, purports to lead to the end suffering. The eight paths are: Right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. Memorize those real quick, and get back to me.
For the unenlightened who are still struggling, and maybe particularly so during quarantine, Eightfold has managed to stay open for takeout and pick up orders during the citywide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re an Echo Park resident or simply passing through from DTLA or Silver Lake in search of some excellent brew, mark down Eightfold Coffee as the neighborhood spot for cold brew, espresso, and matcha galore.
Aside from just matcha, they also an excellent selection of Ippodo Tea, if herbal beverages are more your thing. And if the simplicity of hot coffee suits you instead, the shop exclusively brews Heart Roasters, a Portland roastery who have gained plenty of momentum over the last decade by purchasing coffee directly from farmers. There’s also small snacks, pastries, Bub & Grandma loaves, and merch available at the shop. During the COVID-19 crisis they’re also serving as a pickup spot for County Line Harvest CSA boxes to support local agriculture in the community.
As for me and my house, cold brew is king and since going out daily for a cup of coffee is no longer the recommended mode for consuming, I resorted instead to purchasing one of the shop’s to-go Growlers. $25 for a half gallon of delicious, concentrated iced coffee (64 ounces) or $45 for an entire gallon (128 ounces), this stuff practically sells itself. Throw it over some ice in the comfort of your own home, add whatever nut milks or sweeteners you might desire — though it’s delicate and balanced enough not to need sugar in my opinion — and work through the day without needing to leave the house.
Filling up my cup in the morning became a replacement ritual for the old trek to the shop, and though I miss the feel of the space, protecting myself and my community is so much more important right now. But, I also want to make sure that the community I love and draw so much inspiration from can survive the economic hardship that’s an unfortunate byproduct of social distancing and quarantine. Buying a growler from Eightfold instead of just another $4-$5 cup of coffee is another way of investing more substantially in the company’s bottom line, and ensuring they’ll still be there to open up their doors when it’s once again safe to gather.
Most entrepreneurs, journalists, writers, artists, photographers, and creators of all types have benefitted from the ecosystem of a coffee shop like Eightfold. Yes, the drinks are seriously excellent, and I may or may not have a severe caffeine addiction, but getting “coffee” has always been more than just the drink. I’ve written about the spiritual element of coffee shops before, but they are some of the last places in our culture right now where gathering and just being together are really valued. Since that’s the thing I miss the most right now, it’s also the thing I most desperately want to protect.
So if you’re already out on an errand, go to Eightfold, grab a coffee or a whole gallon of it. If you need to replenish your morning supply of caffeine, don’t buy in bulk at some chain grocery store. Don’t hit up Starbucks or Dunkin, or any of the other massive chains that we all know will survive this economic downturn. Make an effort to seek out the places that are women- and minority-owned, and that actually create space that’s necessary for community to flourish.
Oh, and while you’re there, can you grab me a growler too? I can Venmo you.