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Nice Coffee is All Smiles with New Roasting Operation in LA

Nice Coffee Roasters-38

Nice Coffee Roasters Owners Chris Owens, Doug Meils and Elliott Lau. Photo by Marissa Feldman, courtesy of Nice Coffee Roasters.

A new brand called Nice Coffee Roasters is cheering up coffee drinkers throughout Los Angeles and farther afield through quality-focused sourcing and roasting.

The concept comes from a trio of seasoned LA-based coffee professionals — Chris Owens, Doug Meils and Elliott Lau — each of whom has ties to the influential former coffee brand Handsome Coffee Roasters.

The new roasting company is a companion to the downtown Los Angeles coffee shop, Nice Coffee, which Lau joined in 2017 under the ownership of founder Tyler Wells (another Handsome alum). Lau took ownership of the shop in 2020.

Nice previously carried coffees from numerous roasters, including some that were roasted by Owens and Meils in different capacities, while managing to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, “despite being in the middle of two massive office buildings,” according to Lau. The shop now serves as the retail face of the new Nice roasting brand.

Elliot Lau Nice coffee

Elliott Lau at Nice. Photo by Elliott-Augusto Piccio, courtesy of Nice Coffee Roasters. 

Said Lau, “I grew up as a barista in single-roaster shops, and wanted to give that same experience to my guests and staff.”

Meils, who now serves as the Nice head roaster, brings more than 20 years of coffee experience to the project, including stints at Intelligentsia Coffee, Handsome and Tectonic Coffee.

“I am always looking to get lines that deliver the cleanest and sweetest cup,” said Meils, who oversees a 15-kilo Mill City Roasters machine in a facility in Inglewood. “I think this aligns, more or less, with what I have done in the past at Handsome and other roasters, only I am a lot better at it now.”

Owens takes the lead on green coffee purchasing for Nice, utilizing experience gathered at coffee companies such as Gimme! Coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia, the latter of which he left to co-create Handsome more than a decade ago.

“Although I have relationships with several great importers here in the U.S., I really want to highlight a couple of the exporters I work with: Benjamin Paz from Honduras and Nadine Rasch from Guatemala,” Owens told DCN. “I have been friends with them for many years and they have been instrumental in helping to connect with the producers with whom we are working.”

For his part, Meils tries to highlight the most desirable characteristics of each of the coffees, including reflections of post-harvest processing methods.

Ethiopia Side

New bags coming from Nice Coffee Roasters.

“As cheesy as this sounds, I also listen to the coffee more than in the past,” said Meils. “I want to get the best out of the coffee. In the past I would force my style of roasting on the bean, but that doesn’t always work out.”

With e-commerce and the wholesale business now off the ground, Nice Coffee Roasters will soon be rolling out a line of merch led by Meils. Meanwhile, Lau is currently pursuing partnerships with equipment providers for additional services for wholesale clients.

In a recent press release announcing the Nice Coffee launch, Owens succinctly stated, “At Nice Coffee Roasters, we will buy tasty coffee, pay our producer partners fairly, charge our customers a reasonable price and be nice to people.”

Nice Coffee DTLA is located at 515 Flower St, Suite 1960, in Los Angeles. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here