Café Ruisseau brings people together in conversation and thought
By Jessica Koslow
When Edward Ackah-Miezah was in high school in Seattle, he got a job at Java Joe’s. It was one of his first jobs, and it played a major role in where he’s sitting today – at a table in front of his 4-year-old Playa Vista outdoor coffee cabana, Café Ruisseau.
“Joe was super cool,” shares Ackah-Miezah. “He was really popular. Everybody loved him, and I saw how magnetic he was and how magnetic coffee could be for a community. I fell in love with coffee and how it brings people together. Ever since, I’ve been in and around coffee.”
Tucked away next to Tocaya Organica and across the drive from Home State, Café Ruisseau has been thriving since 2016, when the Playa Vista Campus invited Ackah-Miezah to open a coffee shop to service the rapidly growing business community.
In mid-March, as with all aspects of life as we knew it, everything changed.
“Post-pandemic, about 10% of the people are still here,” says Ackah-Miezah.
Before March, the shop was not open on the weekend. Now, Saturday is the best day for business.
One of the biggest changes is the clientele. While the working professionals used to line up for lattes, now it’s the local community that’s keeping Café Ruisseau afloat.
“Now, we’re taking care of and catering to the people in this community,” Ackah-Miezah says. “I think that was one of our failings for the last three-and-a-half years. I had my hands full before, and I didn’t have the impetus to reach out.”
Ackah-Miezah has also stepped up the café’s social media marketing – which was almost nonexistent pre-COVID.
“People in Playa Vista have been kind with their reviews,” says Ackah-Miezah, sharing that people especially like to post pictures on Instagram of his Honey Lavender Latte.
As we sit on this sunny Saturday afternoon in front of his coffee cabana, watching parents chase their toddlers around the campus, Ackah-Miezah brings the conversation back to community – and how it has evolved for him and his business post-COVID.
“This is a special community,” Ackah-Miezah begins. “People do care. 2020 has been a trying year for everybody. Since the pandemic, I’ve been able to have a lot of conversations that go beyond what kind of milk would you like. We’re talking society, politics, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, the Presidency, the election … there’s a lot of things to talk about. That’s been refreshing. When I first got into coffee I saw how it brought people together, and I’m seeing that again now: bringing people together not just in proximity but in conversation and in thought. We’ve found ourselves on lists of Black-owned businesses, and the people who have noticed that and come to see us and support us are Black and other colors, which is very encouraging to know people care.”
Ackah-Miezah owns the business with his wife of 22 years. They started the company in 2005 after their first child was born.
“I named my first company after her because I knew I needed to figure out a way to feed her,” says Ackah-Miezah about his 17-year-old daughter, who often works at the shop alongside her 15-year-old brother. “All the proceeds go to feeding the children [there are 3 in total].”
Ackah-Miezah’s family just keeps getting bigger. In November, he opened a new location in Santa Monica on Stewart and Colorado in the Goop building.
“I go back and forth,” says Ackah-Miezah about opening a new business during the pandemic. “One day I think it’s the greatest thing, and the next I think I’m the biggest idiot. What am I doing trying to expand in this time?
“Overall, it’s going to be a good thing. People are looking for businesses like ours to support. LA has no shortages of places that will give you a good cappuccino. But it’s a combination of the product, the atmosphere, the connection and the community that we provide. I think that is unique.”
Café Ruisseau sells bags of coffee for pickup or shipping. Subscriptions are available weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
“I really love what we have now as far as the people that come in,” says Ackah-Miezah. “I’d like to see that continue to grow: people from Ladera Heights, Culver City, students from LMU. Prior to the pandemic, our customers were the people that work here – all working professionals. Now we have an opportunity to open this up to different types of people, different perspectives. I love that, and I would love to continue on that trend.
“We’re hidden – I think it’s a treasure once you do find it. I’d love for more people to be able to find it and grow together.”
Café Ruisseau is located at 12150 Millennium Dr., Playa Vista,