Community Comes Through for Latte Art Mastermind Nicely Abel

In efforts to cover the Menotti’s barista’s hospital bills, Cat & Cloud and Go Get Em Tiger are selling exclusive coffee drinks and bags.


In the United States, hospital bills can drain your bank account in seconds. Thus, it can prove to be difficult for a coffee worker to afford health care without assistance from an employer-provided insurance plan. Such ended up being the case for legendary latte artist and Menotti’s head barista Nicely Abel, a well-loved figure in the Los Angeles coffee community and beyond.

After experiencing ongoing medical problems that led to an extensive set of surgeries, Nicely has been *cleared of cancer* but is also unable to work while he heals—which means an inability to cover the hospital bills. With Nicely being a major influence on the coffee community in Los Angeles and beyond for almost two decades, coffee companies near and far have come together to assist with hospital bills, offer support, and send their best wishes toward a speedy recovery.

It’s not easy to be open about your health concerns, especially in a culture in which being vulnerable can lend the perspective of being “weak“ or incapable of doing your job. It can also be hard to ask for help. In a message to Nicely’s community, he posted on Instagram explaining his situation, stating:

I’m certain the years I’ve spent on bar, particularly the last 7 or so @menottis, often working 15+ hour days, delaying breaks or trips to the little Barista’s room, rare real days off, not being able to afford consistent access to healthcare, work/life related stress, and navigating the pandemic while going through a separation has all officially caught up to me. This is all pouring out of me as reminder to any of you that if you’re caught in this cycle, you’re not alone. It will get better.

Its actually been 2.5 years since I started dealing with this issue, and even now it feels a little embarrassing to own it, but for the sake of full transparency and vulnerability I have been battling internal and external hemrroids (sic). Everything I wrote in the previous paragraph were major contributors to my situation. My doctor at one point even said I’m a “classic case study.“ I hope owning it myself encourages you or someone you may know suffering similar symptoms to get help.

I started really addressing mine about a year ago after getting over the initial fear of potentially finding out if I have cancer. One too many Web MD search articles. I just needed to know.

It got to the point where I needed some emergency surgery on Friday night the 25th to remove all of them. The surgery went well, pain management since however has been real tough. I am encouraged by the testimony I have received from folks that in a couple weeks it will feel a lot better. Right now tho…. oooof…. this also means I need some help.

– Nicely Abel on Instagram, July 29
On Nicely’s Instagram, the latte artist expresses his gratitude for supportive friends and family. Photo taken as a screenshot.

Go Get Em Tiger’s Limited-Offer Drink

While Nicely has been accepting donations via Venmo (@nicely85) and CashApp ($nicely85), other coffee brands have stepped up to offer further assistance in helping cover additional costs. Through the end of this weekend, Go Get Em Tiger will be serving a Spanish latte inspired by the signature condensed milk-cinnamon latte served at the Menotti’s café in Venice, Calif. The beverage costs $6 USD, and $4 will go directly to Nicely.

In an email announcing the drink, Gget owner Kyle Glanville said, “The Nicely you see is the real deal. Because of that, he has become a lynchpin in LA’s coffee scene. And you’ll always find him at industry events supporting the community. He’s one of the most supportive and kind folks in the coffee business.“

The Cat & Cloud special blend for Nicely. Photo courtesy of Cat & Cloud.

Cat & Cloud Steps In

Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Cat & Cloud will also be contributing to the cause. Currently, the company is selling a special coffee bag blend, and half of the proceeds will go toward Nicely’s expenses. The blend is called V.S.E.B. and features a coffee from Shakiso, Ethiopia (Guji) and Jaguar, Mexico (Chiapas).

“Nicely is a great friend and representative of barista culture,“ says Jared Truby, co-founder at Cat & Cloud. “What he’s done to contribute to every company he’s worked for is a representation of selflessness, hospitality, virtue and loyalty.“

“He has a personal energy about him that wills us all to be better coffee professionals, better humans,“ adds co-founder Charles Jack. “Really to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. I will always be thankful to him for inspiring that feeling for me within myself.“

“As much as the developing specialty-coffee industry meant to me, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that barista culture often felt a bit vanilla,“ concludes co-founder Chris Baca. “Nicely was a living, breathing manifestation of the energy that was missing in the specialty-coffee scene. I remember telling one of my co-workers: ’That dude is the shit!’ That’s Nicely, he’s the guy that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary just by being himself.“

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.