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Frank La of Be Bright Coffee
Photograph: Courtesy Be Bright Coffee

Los Angeles is now home to the #1 barista in America

Frank La, co-owner of Melrose’s Be Bright Coffee, took home the top prize at the U.S. Coffee Championships last weekend.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo

If you believe the judges at the 2024 US Coffee Championships, the City of Angels is now home to the best barista in the country. Last weekend, local coffee shop co-owner Frank La placed first in the barista category at the specialty coffee world’s most prominent trade competition.

La owns Melrose’s Be Bright Coffee with his wife, Michelle. The pair started off vending at Smorgasburg in the Arts District before opening Be Bright Coffee in late 2022, and originally started the company as a subscription-based coffee bean supplier.

Be Bright Coffee
Photograph: Courtesy Stan Lee

It’s not the first time an L.A. coffee shop owner has won the U.S. Barista Championships. In 2015, Charles Babinski, founder of local chain Go Get ‘Em Tiger and the “B” in G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market, took home the top prize. Winning the championships isn’t as simple as pulling a decent shot of espresso; in addition to making a standard drink to the judges’ specifications, competitors must design and present their own specialty drink (complete with theme song). In La’s case, as first reported by Sprudge, the theme for La’s specialty drink entry was kodawari, a Japanese phrase roughly translating to “the pursuit of perfection.” He was coached by L.A. coffee veteran Jaymie Lao, the former director of experiences at Go Go ‘Em Tiger.

As the winner of the U.S. Barista Championship, La will represent the United States in the World Barista Championship this May in Busan, South Korea. Until then, you just might catch him behind the counter at his tiny coffee shop on Melrose Avenue. 

Be Bright Coffee creme brulee latte
Photograph: Courtesy Stan LeeBe Bright’s dessert-like specialty drinks have earned the Melrose coffee shop a devoted local following.

Be Bright Coffee is located at 7311 Melrose Ave and is open 8am–4pm daily.

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