If diamonds are forever, rubies can’t be too far off, and for the Rubies + Diamonds Tea and Coffee café currently soft-opening in Los Angeles, Calif., these gems together represent the eons of tradition and refinement that the duo of coffee and tea has to offer. Yet if you whittle the company’s name down to its initials, R&D, the groundbreaking rest of the story comes to the fore.
“We are absolutely about doing the best cappuccino, the best latte,” R&D owner Jean Shim told Daily Coffee News of the shop’s bold combination of old and new technologies and styles. “It is definitely a juxtaposition of the two. We pride ourselves in both.” Coffees for the new retail café as well as a growing wholesale department are all roasted in-house on an off-site 5-kilo Renegade drum roaster built by the relatively new Renegade Roaster Design Group based in El Cajon, Calif., near San Diego. R&D Head Roaster Precy Betiong sets the profiles.
The company is very guarded about its green coffee sources given the intensely competitive market they call home. Much of it they say is directly sourced from growers, although — in another old-vs-new move, harkening back to an out-of-favor bean making a comeback only in the most forward-thinking circles — they do offer a single-origin Robusta from India that they procure by way of the Portland-based Sustainable Harvest import company. Served either as batch or BKON brew, R&D’s straight Robusta takes the top rating in the shop’s trademarked CAF — Caffeine Amplitude Formula — rating system, by which patrons can choose drinks based on the stimulant boost it provides. Decaf is CAF0; the Robusta is CAF4, and everything else falls somewhere in between.
Aside from the reverse-atmospheric BKON brewer, which is used for coffee, tea and a selection of infused waters as well, R&D also serves both coffee and tea on nitro-pressurized taps. “Sometimes the body is not as thick as others,” Betiong told Daily Coffee News about the performance of different teas under nitro pressure, “but the flavor profile is excellent.” The nitro teas reportedly cascade just as vividly as the coffees.
Shim’s 12-year-old daughter is the chef behind the shop’s chocolate-chip cookies, and that certainly doesn’t mean an off-the-shelf cookie dough slapped onto a tray. The fine-culinary aspirant crafts every crumb from scratch and works with a chocolatier on par with the company’s coffee culture for a premium product, befitting of a menu that also includes a Kimchi Spam Musubi Croissant and Roti wraps of intercontinental flavors.
Shim, who comes to the R&D business with experience running the LAMILL coffee shop in Silver Lake, has big plans for additional retail locations of the new brand. “We’re hoping for at least five in the next five years around the L.A., southern California area,” she said. “That is definitely in the works to do.”
In the meantime, the flagship at 6115 W. Sunset Boulevard has its official launch party scheduled for January 9.