A home brewer learns the roast

March 29, 2014|By Sameea Kamal,
  • Trystero Coffee roasting company owner Greg Thomas, right, makes a coffee drink for friend and customer Andres Tena of L.A., left, at Thomas' home office in the Atwatyer Village area of Los Angeles on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Thomas recently roasted his 2,500 batch of coffee, which he sells over the internet and from his garage. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Trystero Coffee roasting company owner Greg Thomas,… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

On most Saturday afternoons in a small garage in Atwater Village, you can stop in for a cup of hand-roasted coffee, lounge on the couch and meet the other customers and friends of the owner who come by — or you can buy a bag to take home.

It’s not your typical coffee shop, which seems fitting for what customers describe as not your typical coffee.

Greg Thomas, owner of Trystero Coffee, has been hand-roasting coffee and serving cups to customers and passersby alike for about three years. The 51-year-old Atwater Village resident recently celebrated his 2,500th batch with a small “party” in his garage, arranged in a hybrid living-room-coffee-room setup, decorated with artwork and Christmas lights on the walls.

“It’s been really fun, especially meeting new people in the garage,” he said.

An IT technician by trade, Thomas was inspired to roast his own coffee after trying a brand of hand-roasted coffee at a San Francisco farmers market. Curious about how roasts would taste lighter or darker, he began experimenting on a cast-iron pot on his stove where “you get the whole smell and see the whole process right in front of you,” he said.


But when he moved to a loft that wasn’t conducive to stove-top roasting, he looked into buying a roaster, investing in the smallest he could find and one he still uses: the Deidrich Idaho-based IR1.

From the start, Thomas had selling coffee as a side business in mind. He began selling the packages he made at home to friends and family, and after he got a handle on the process, began providing roasts to Demitasse Café in Los Angeles.

Many of Thomas’ customers learned of Trystero through the online bicycle forums he is a part of, such as LAFixed, where he spread the word. He also got some publicity when he was mentioned in an article on Carolyn Kellogg’s book blog about “The Crying of Lot 49,” which features a Trystero symbol that inspired Thomas’ coffee brand name.

That’s where Nick Rucka, 38, a Portland, Ore.-transplant who was Thomas’ second customer, learned of the garage.

During his quest for a good cup of joe in Los Angeles — which he says didn’t exist at the time — he read about Trystero in the article and emailed Thomas, who began delivering coffee to Rucka’s office in West Hollywood.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles