Still here, still alive: Endorffeine
Mamiya RB67 - Ilford Delta 3200
When I was younger I didn’t understand “burn-out” or “self-care.” They weren’t concepts I learned in school, and they weren’t things I was taught about or thought about growing up and I believe I’m not the only one. However, the pandemic has shed some light and raised our awareness about how our minds thought, how our bodies feel and the little rituals we habitually enjoy.
For myself, my go-to ritual is to take one day out of the week to visit my local wine shop in the evening to sip on wine, converse with friends, and meet new people. Unfortunately, the pandemic changed that ritual, but it didn’t stop me from continuing my trek to Los Angeles. Instead of visiting during the evening, I visited Los Angeles during the day and started a new ritual exploring hidden treasures to share with everyone, including you.
One of my new discoveries during the pandemic that the coffee community pointed me to, that I would like to introduce you is Endorffeine coffee based in Chinatown within the Far East Plaza.
Endorffeine is a focused, mindful coffee bar, hidden within LA’s historic Chinatown. The coffee bar is owned, and solely operated by two cousins, Jack Benchakul and Ttaya Tuparangsi; they have never hired employees. Since its inception in 2015, Jack has brewed each beverage, and Ttaya is responsible for Endorffeine’s design philosophy and culture. Ttaya was born in
Thailand, but earned her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Jack’s parents are Thai, but he is originally from New York City. He was formerly a biochemist, helping to develop cancer-fighting pharmaceuticals for renowned biotech companies like Genentech and Amgen. Drinking a single cup of the black ambrosia in 2006 was the epiphanic moment that sent Jack and Ttaya into the deep rabbit hole that is specialty coffee. During the pandemic, Jack and Ttaya launched an offshoot company, Endorffeine RTD. Their intention is to produce ready-to-drink versions of the signature beverages that were previously crafted by Jack at the coffee bar in Chinatown. Plans to distribute throughout Los Angeles will begin in 2022.
To my knowledge when I discovered your shop, you both have been providing coffee to your patrons (including myself) throughout this long pandemic. On most days when I stop by, you have coffee enthusiasts huddling outside your patio enjoying your pours. What kind of burn-out did you both experience operating Endorffeine during the pandemic? How did you both cope? Any tips of self-care that you can advise to others who are having similar burn-outs? Does coffee help with burnout or a part of self-care?
Ttaya and I aren’t just cousins; we’re best friends. We probably didn’t experience burn-out because whenever there was an issue, we would come together in order to formulate a solution (or two). There are impactful benefits to working with your best friend. Also, finding comfort in food and drink has always been a part of our lives. In fact, taking comfort in food and drink is ingrained in Thai culture, so one of the first steps towards self-care was/is never far away. Finally… yes, coffee is always an integral piece of our daily self-care rituals!