Groundwork Coffee Company has been at the forefront of the organic, fair trade, sustainable coffee movement since 1990, when founder Richard Karno started his Venice, California, rare book and café business by roasting his own coffee. That Venice flagship store is even sustainable—it’s a refurbished former horse stable.
Word soon got around that Groundwork was doing coffee right, and chefs and restaurateurs began to flood it with orders. Its current blends, with names like Angel City, the dark, smoky-roast Bitches Brew, and the complex Lucky Jack (named after writer Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring character Captain Jack Aubrey), keep coffee lovers coming back to its seven locations around L.A. (in addition to customers all over who can buy the coffee online). But it’s more than the coffee that makes Groundwork a star. They foster community at their coffeehouses and give back to the community through fundraisers for organizations such as senior centers and schools, clean-up projects, and even art shows, like the Indie Garage Arts series.
Groundwork also does its part to keep things environmentally sustainable—in its North Hollywood roasting facility, says director of roasting operations Jeff Chean, solar panels now power more than 80 percent of the electrical demands of its unusual hybrid/gas electric coffee roaster.