Dale Inghram is a two-time Emmy-winning, voice over actor.
He's the voice of Bravo Network promos and Bud Light Superbowl commercials among hundreds of other things.
Over the years, between auditions, he's spent a lot of time in coffee shops. He loved the energy and the vibe and the energy of his favorite shop so much that, more or less on a whim, he purchased it: the Blue Butterfly on Main Street in El Segundo.
Five years later, Inghram's interest has become his passion.
He earned his Q-Grader certification, a kind of a sommelier license for coffee, and he recently opened Smoky Hollow Roasters, also in El Segundo.
In keeping with the community, Smoky Hollow is friendly and welcoming—it's also super cool. Think Brooklyn meets the beach without man-buns or waxed moustaches.
The interior, designed by Inghram and his wife, Toni, has an industrial feel, with cement floors and open beam ceilings.
There's a big leather sofa and quirky furnishings in conversational groups and cozy nooks, accented with unusual pieces from an architectural reclamation store and online secondhand sales.
A bar surrounds a beast of a coffee roaster, where folks camp out with laptops. Smoky Hollow is a hideaway where a person can do quiet work surrounded by social buzz—a real hang out. Because as Inghram puts it, the coffee is the beginning of the equation, but "the community and the experience are the largest part."
The coffee is delicious, and it's everywhere.
Part of the decor includes tremendous burlap sacks of green beans from exotic locales like Costa Rica and Ethiopia. The huge German coffee roaster isn't just for show. This is where they roast all of the coffee, twenty-five pounds at a time, for both Blue Butterfly and Smoky Hollow, creating nuanced blends.
The coffeemaker is also like something out of a Steampunk novel. It's called Ground Control and the newest model is the Cyclops—Smoky Hollow has the first in California. Unlike a typical pour-over drip machine, these gizmos immerse, vacuum and stir the brewing beans three times—the turbulence extracts more flavor.
Smoky Hollow also carries a limited offering of sweet and savory pastries supplied by a few local bakeries and a grab and go case with sandwiches they prepare themselves over at the Blue Butterfly.
There is also an extensive tea menu from which I tried the Blue Butterfly tea latte—a blend of blue butterfly tea and mandarin silk tea with just a hint of rose—finished with Oat Milk for subtle sweetness and a dreamy blue color that begs for a photo.
Or you can order the iced blue tea with lemonade for a 'purple Palmer.'
Smoky Hollow Roasters also sells its special bean blends by the bag so you can brew them at home. But then you'll miss that vibe.
Smoky Hollow Roasters is located at 118 Sierra Street in El Segundo. They are open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Eileen Shields is a South Bay food writer: contact her at email@example.com.