While it's now recognized as one of the best cafes in the city, Cognoscenti had humble beginnings, starting off in 2008 as a pop-up before partnering with Proof Bakery in Atwater. While Chinese American founder Yeekai Lim previously had a career in architecture, he became obsessed with coffee, from the origins and histories to the complex flavors, after first coming across it at Intelligentsia. Wanting to try as much coffee as possible, he decided to do a coffee pop-up, and four years later, he opened his first shop in Culver City and later two more locations downtown, designing all of them himself. Last year, Cognoscenti launched an online ordering service and streamlined its delivery process. With more people working from home, Lim said he plans to continue to focus on home coffee brewing and educating homebrewers. In the future, he also wants to spend more time engaging with producers and optimizing vertical sustainability from farm to shop.
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