In 2015, on their first visit to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu, New Mexico, home, Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz felt an immediate affinity with the space. They appreciated its simplicity: generous natural light, rich adobe walls, and, at the center of the late artist’s studio, a long plywood table. The home made such an impression on the couple, in fact, that it would influence the look of their Los Angeles roasting company, Canyon Coffee, started in 2016. But the visual connection was limited to bags the beans were sold in, some merch, and a website—until last week.
Situated prominently on a corner in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood, just a few blocks from Elysian Park, the couple’s first storefront translates their passion for restrained design into physical form. For the space, Ally and Casey brought in friends Jon and Masa Klein of Klein Agency—"a no-brainer," says Casey—who they long admired for the sleek simplicity of the restaurants they’ve designed across the city.
In addition to referencing O’Keeffe’s home, Casey and Ally wanted the cafe to reflect Northern California’s Sea Ranch, coffee shops they’ve visited along the Mediterranean, and the work of Donald Judd—his furniture, in particular—which they had seen firsthand in his New York and Marfa, Texas, homes.
"There’s a simplicity but so much intention in Judd’s designs, and that’s what we wanted for ourselves," Casey says. "We wanted the furniture to be functional, and feel sturdy."
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Canyon’s look blends sans serif fonts and solid, subdued colors that evoke a desert sunset against a blue sky. So Klein and the couple kept it up, using white walls and blonde woods, and an airy interior palette grounded by solid, natural materials. They cladded accent walls in locally sourced West Coast Douglas fir, and constructed the bar with birch and a countertop of pale Portuguese limestone. Walsh took charge of furnishing the space, sourcing their vintage metal French stools from 1stDibs, and handmade wooden stools a la Judd from local design studio Waka Waka, but with primary-colored accents.
The brick-and-mortar marks a moment that’s long been in the making for Ally and Casey. "It’s like Canyon’s been a band in a rehearsal studio for six years," says Casey, who was a touring musician. "We’ve been releasing demos and growing a following without ever having played a live show."
But this is far from the couple’s first gig. Before launching the business in their Beachwood Canyon apartment, for years they advised friends and family on their favorite blends, cafes, and coffee-making techniques. When Canyon started, Ally and Casey would serve at neighborhood pop-ups where they were a hit, and eventually expanded their business to supply coffee shops, markets, and hotels across the U.S. Last year, they decided it was time to open a full-fledged shop.
In addition to the coffee they roast, Ally and Casey serve up their favorite Los Angeles and California-based artists and designers. Drinks come in mugs by Peter Shire, Atelier Lips, and Alison Andersson, and the walls are lined with artwork by Cheryl Humphrys and Megumi Shauna Arai. "We’ve always felt really supported by the small business community here in L.A. and California," Casey says, "and so a major component of it is supporting other businesses and artists."
When asked what they hope the storefront will add to the neighborhood, the answer is comforting in its simplicity: the warmth of the artists and places they admire, and the kind you might find in one of their cups of coffee.