Caffe Luxxe at Montecito Country Mart
Last month marked the opening of Caffe Luxxe, Montecito’s newest coffee shop located in Montecito Country Mart. Last week we had the opportunity to sit down with co-founder Mark Wain, who, along with his business partner Gary Chau, started the Los Angeles-based chain of artisan coffee shops in 2006.
Wain and Chau met in business school twenty years ago, and had a shared dream of eventually owning a small business together. After a visit to a quaint Seattle coffee shop in 2001, the duo, building on their shared passion for European coffee culture and an artisan approach to coffee preparation, decided to leave their then corporate jobs to open their first coffee house in Santa Monica. Now, 13 years later, they are running six stores, with the latest here in Montecito. “Opening a store here was always part of our plan, simply because many of our customers live here,” said Wain.
With another Caffe Luxxe location at Montecito Country Mart owner James Rosenfield’s Brentwood Country Mart, opening at the Mart in Montecito was an easy decision, Wain said. “We look for three things when opening a new store,” he explained. “A tightknit community, an area where we can have an impact and be involved in local events, and complementary tenants near us,” he said. “The Mart is full of other small shop owners who have a collective vision of a commitment to the community,” he said.
Inspired by European coffee houses, Wain and Chau have designed a minimalist space with a communal table, designed to be a place where people can gather. “You’ll find no free Wi-Fi in any of our stores, which is surprising for people. We want you to put down the screens and actually interact with each other!” Wain laughed. The café is well known for its artisanal coffee experience, using the most sustainable, fair trade coffee beans to roast at their L.A. roastery. Blends are meticulously crafted in small batches, consistently achieving highly rated coffee scores of 90+ points by Coffee Review. Beans are sourced from Brazil, South and Central America, Africa, Costa Rica, and Southeast Asia, from farmers with whom Wain and Chau have personal relationships. “We maintain those relationships so we can count on them, and they can count on us that we’ll buy some of their coffee every year,” Wain said. “We have a commitment to the flavor profile, commitment to training our staff, and a commitment to freshness, ensuring our customers get a consistent and excellent cup of coffee,” he added.
Pastries are locally sourced from Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez and Lilac Patisserie in Santa Barbara, and there is an array of retail offerings including a bath and body line made with green coffee extract, as well as artisanal jam and salt, olive oil, and cookies. There is a small assortment of greeting cards and stationery, too.
The business partners have found great success in their six stores, employing a mix of students, artists, and makers. “We take care of our people, and our hope is that our employees are better having worked for us,” he said.
Caffe Luxxe is open 7 am to 5 pm everyday. For more information, visit www.caffeluxxe.com.