Drifting on the Memory of Los Angeles with Drift LA

The Isley Brothers

There is a song that is known by me more for one its lyrics than for the song’s actual title. The lyric is Drifting on a Memory” by The Isley Brothers and the song is For The Love of You.

I remember being a little girl, living in a two-level apartment where this song played on vinyl in our dining room. There was ample space between the record player and our dining room table and that is where any one of my five-member family then could spring into dance. I now know that my parents often cha-cha’d to this – a dance I’d later learn as a teenager.

As a woman of color, the soulful sound of For The Love of You played often because my mother was and still is in love with their music. It is even appropriate to say that growing up with this seven-syllable line in my consciousness might take credit for my state of wistful being as I find myself privileged to write about a culture that makes me feel like when I literally imbibe its substance, I’m in a constant state of floating atop surfaces, like a never-ending cha-cha-cha.

When I think of coffee, I think of memory often. Coffee is always conjuring up moments for me, some that I only remember because I succumb to drifting when I’m under the influence of brewed coffee. Thus, when Drift, the printed publication about coffee and culture, told through one city at a time, came onto the scene of specialty culture it was primed to hold a special place for me, because of the indubitable place coffee culture has in my life as The Coffeetographer.  When it launched, it launched with New York and I was living there then.

When I was approached to consider pitching stories for Drift LA, I was excited and also honored. I was based here because of the pandemic. However, Los Angeles is my birth town, where I’ve been an infant, a toddler, a child, a teen and an adult. Los Angeles has shaped me in the best ways despite considering myself a bicoastal dweller – I’ve lived in New York for more than 15 years – and a citizen of the world.

In all my travels and experiences, I always come back to L.A. How could I not; its formed my worldview, my desire for proximity to bodies of water, my penchant for space and sun, as well as discovery. There are a myriad of streets, corners, roads and freeways leading to the finding of something more than a trend, and instead the rich culture in my city that is a melting pot of language, identity, food and drinks.

Among that culture, I discovered coffee was a subculture. As such then – when I started my journey ten years ago as The Coffeetographer – documenting this subculture that is always proclaiming itself into a mainstream, ties me indelibly my origin history and ultimately to coffee’s beginning in Ethiopia. Beyond that, coffee in L.A. is nomadic, vast, singular, communal and above all culturally diverse. Coffee culture here isn’t just a slice out of another city’s pattern. Instead, its shaped by the context it finds itself in, a land of mountains and valleys, a city spacious and broad with sprawl and spread, and driven by design influenced by Los Angeles proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its penchant for palm trees.

As I thought about what I wanted to say about my city and our city – if you, dear reader also claim it as your own – was about how what’s happening now I wanted to address design within a space, specifically the bar, and how coffee bars are formed to be more than a walk-up counter but a point of hospitality. I wanted to explore how space was being thought of in terms of the customer experience and how specialty coffee is positioning itself as a voice in how design can enunciate its identity.

Secondly, I wanted to talk about the coffee shop encompassing more than coffee. In exploring coffee and wine, I decided to look at how coffee shops started as a combination of both, evolved into both, or are one or the other. I looked at the cultural forces, lifestyle choices and yes, economic reasons for why coffee shops are adopting another channel of beverage into their brand. It is with deep gratitude that the now late Ruben Morancy, former Wine Director for Adams Wine Shop invited me into the space to record our interview for this issue. It is another memory that I’ll return to for years to come.

Thank you to Daniela Velasco, Adam Goldberg, and Bonjwing Lee for having me on these stories. Maybe you’ll find yourself picking it up and drifting along with it in the middle of your living room or that of another’s’. It is my hope that when you do, you’ll experience my words, like a gentle breeze, for the love of LA.



Welcome Space

Crossing the Divide

Roasting Our Way to Community and Diversity


Featured Coffee/Wine Spaces

Adams Coffee Shop


Daydream Surf Shop


Goodboybob Coffee Roasters

Highly Likely

Sala Coffee and Wine

Semi Tropic Wines