L.A. Cafés Unite with Plant Shops

Los Angeles-based cafés partner with local plant shops to merge Angelenos’ love for coffee and gardening.

BY EMILY MENESES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Cover photo courtesy of Casa de las Plantitas

Is there any union more natural than the one between coffee and plants? Maybe it’s because coffee is a plant itself, or because there’s an inherent meditative beauty to both gardening and drinking your daily brew. Whatever it is that makes coffee and plants the perfect pairing, Los Angeles has embraced it with open arms.

The Plant Plug L.A., Casa de las Plantitas, and Dirty Plants Co. are three small local plant shops that have been hosting pop-ups in their favorite cafés. Here’s everything you need to know about these burgeoning businesses and how they’ve been sharing their passion for plant life with coffee-drinking Angelenos:

Many coffee shops in Los Angeles have hosted small-business owners in their spaces to sell house plants. Photo by Dirty Plants Co.

Dirty Plants Co.

When looking at Dirty Plants Co.’s stunning photography and carefully curated array of recycled coffee mug plant pots, one can’t help but wonder who’s behind it all. Best friends Alexandra Boyd, Calli France, and Kevin Villanueva first launched the shop in August 2020, and since then, they’ve hosted pop-ups in numerous cafés, including Echo Park’s beloved Laveta Coffee.

Prior to the launch, the three had spent many days in cafés talking about their goals. Eventually, these conversations culminated as Dirty Plants Co., a way for the friends to bring a sense of community and peace to the people around them. The moments that the three shared together in Laveta Coffee are also what inspired them to begin offering their plants there. “Bringing people around coffee opens the door for all different conversations,” the three shared. “We’ve had many of these quality conversations at our local café, Laveta, so we thought it only right to host our pop-up within our community.” 

Dirty Plants Co. was launched this past August by best friends Alexandra Boyd, Calli France, and Kevin Villanueva. Photo courtesy of Dirty Plants Co.

Though starting a business during COVID-19 has had its challenges, it has also been a powerful reminder for the friends on why they started their shop. “The overarching goal has been to bring a feeling of connectedness and peace into homes, and knowing the ‘why’ behind Dirty Plants Co. helps us when things get challenging,” the three stated. “This year has been a lot for us, but we’re here to serve our community—and that’s what keeps us going.” 

Taylor Lindsey, founder of The Plant Plug L.A., aims to empower the community of South Central L.A. Photo courtesy of Taylor Lindsey.

The Plant Plug L.A.

When Taylor Lindsey started The Plant Plug L.A. in June of 2019, their top priority was empowering the South Central community. “The Plant Plug is for the people and by the people,” Taylor states. “There’s enough room for us all to grow our own (produce), start our own businesses, and bring wealth, enterprise, and prosperity to our communities. … (When I started the Plant Plug,) I saw how fulfilling having a garden at your fingertips could seriously enrich South Central and other greatly underserved areas.”

To expand on this vision, Taylor partnered with Coffee del Mundo and Casa de las Plantitas to create Plant-Based Saturdays: a day for customers to enjoy the café’s entirely dairy-free menu while shopping for plants, learning about composting, and getting tips on how to better care for their gardens.

With a growing number of people facing food insecurity in the U.S., the ability to grow your own produce is a powerful tool. When asked what advice they have for beginning environmentalists and gardeners, Taylor stated, “My suggestions would be to start with growing a single plant, eating more plant-based meals, and learning about local recycling efforts. Connection with the earth is simple. Earth asks of us nothing, yet provides us with so much. Small habits turn into major changes.” 

Casa de las Plantitas

Joining The Plant Plug L.A. and Coffee del Mundo for Plant-Based Saturdays is Casa de las Plantitas, a family-run business based in South Central L.A. Founded this past September by sisters Laura and Judith Garcia, along with their parents, Armando and Guadalupe, Casa de las Plantitas offers whimsical arrangements that showcase the family’s deep love for community and the earth.

“We started this project as a hobby for my parents,” Laura stated. “My dad was unfortunately laid off due to the global pandemic, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to further his hobby of plants. Having a business of their own has been my parents’ dream for a very long time—but they never really had the chance to [do so] while working full-time and raising a family. Although we recognize the grave effects of COVID-19, we’ve been lucky enough to turn our situation around and find a way to stay positive throughout this journey.”

Laura also shared that though this passion project has granted the family an extra stream of financial support, it’s also reminded them of the health risks involved. “Opening this plant shop during a pandemic has been challenging, but has also pushed us towards being more creative with the business,” Laura stated. “Because we’re a new plant shop, we feel the need to participate in pop-ups in order to best showcase what we have available—however, this in turn puts us at greater risk of catching COVID-19.” To lessen their risk of contracting COVID, the family runs the business primarily online and holds their Plant-Based Saturdays pop-up outdoors.

Their story is a reminder of just how much we owe plant shop owners, café workers, and all other service industry folks keeping our world turning during this time. These are the people who, in the midst of a global crisis, continue to add beauty and joy to our lives, and opportunities to experience “normal hobbies” during an otherwise abnormal time—and because of that, we should extend to them all of our patience, love, and compassion.

Check out Dirty Plants Co., The Plant Plug L.A., and Casa de las Plantitas on Instagram to explore their offerings, stay up-to-date on upcoming plant pop-ups, and learn more about the work they’re doing with L.A.’s coffee community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses is a writer and musician passionate about culture and collective care. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and soundscapes on her website.

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