BY: AUDREY LABENZ
It’s like somebody turned down the resolution on the rest of the world. Warm, golden sunlight pours across the old checkered floor. The rich brightness of freshly roasted coffee beans fills the senses, an olfactory salute. Suddenly, the only thing that matters is the steaming, hand-crafted brew in the cup. That moment is exactly what Lord Windsor Roasters is about. Wade Windsor taught himself to roast coffee on a re-purposed popcorn machine.
“He’d come home from work, immediately put on his sweatpants, pour himself a whiskey and start roasting coffee on a Whirly-Pop,” co-owner Lindsay Windsor said of her husband. “I had never seen him so happy.”
Before coming to Long Beach, the young couple spent eight years building corporate careers in San Francisco. Fast-paced living, limited personal space and stressful jobs took their toll. Wade and Lindsay found their thoughts turning to dreams of a slower pace and letting life happen organically, ideals that manifest with every cup of coffee they brew.
Lord Windsor coffee travels a mere 10 feet from roaster to grinder. Once the beans are ground to perfection, just a touch of hot water is poured over them. This begins a process called the “bloom,” when the coffee beans start to release their essential oils. The rest of the water is then slowly added to complete the brew. It takes about three minutes to prepare each serving.
“I believe it makes a better cup of coffee,” said Mr. Windsor. “It ensures that the coffee’s fresh and it hasn’t been sitting there stale or burnt like you might get somewhere else.”
“We were really worried that people were going to be pissed off that it was taking so long for their coffee,” Mrs. Windsor said.
But the opposite becomes obvious every time a customer walks in the door. People stop to talk while they wait for their coffee. There are no ranks of machines or glass panels cutting the baristas off from human contact. Instead there is the feeling you’ve been invited into a friend’s kitchen – a friend with unusually sophisticated taste in coffee. Lord Windsor’s clientele includes fewer in-and-out daily commuter types. Instead, one can expect to meet artists, musicians and, most notably, other coffee shop owners.
“This is where coffee shop owners come for good coffee,” said David Loomis, owner of Makai Coffee at Temple and 3rd Street. “These guys know what they’re doing.”
But quality coffee doesn’t have to take itself too seriously. The name “Lord Windsor” comes from a comic book character that Wade, an avid surfer, developed with Lindsay and their co-worker. The shop’s T-shirts show its namesake on a surfboard, riding a wave while pouring a mug of coffee directly into his mouth.
A good attitude makes for good relationships, and Lord Windsor Roasters has drawn considerable foot traffic to the block. According to Lauren Lilly, who co-founded headwear brand Yellow 108, this has allowed them to open a storefront next door where they sell hand-made products made from salvaged and sustainable materials.
Long before the Windsors opened their shop last April at 1101 East 3rd St., it had been a crack den and, according to neighbors, possibly a front for an illegal video poker operation. Its windows had been boarded up for years. But now, as the sun stretches across the floor’s classic black and white tiles like that eye-opening coffee aroma, it’s clear that Lord Windsor Roasters has struck liquid gold.