We had the good fortune of connecting with Mo Maravilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mo, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has been a constant in my life. My parents always wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, or work a well-paying corporate job, but I was never drawn to such things. I always wanted excitement and non-routine, which led me to be a stagehand and an audio/visual engineer. Once that stopped road stopped giving me fulfillment in life, I looked to start my own business. I view risk taking as it relates to the wholeness of my life, not just financially – how much does this mean to me, will I regret not pursuing this dream? I assess risk within the context of in happiness and meaning in life, never in dollars. It’s never been easy choices or paths, but I’ve never regretted anything I’ve chosen and I know the life I lead is completely my own.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My shop, Kindness and Mischief Coffee, has and always will be a people-driven, quality-obsessed, community-centered space. While it says coffee in our name, we’re actually in the business of people more so than beverages. Coffee is just my medium to empower my team and my communities, to make long-lasting connections and relationships that reaches across the globe. I am most proud of everything we embody and stand for – a space that has a woman owner and coffee roaster, POC-owned, LGBTQ+ safe – a space where hate and fear have no place here. We’re the shop who isn’t afraid to be sassy and fight for social action and justice, but also the shop where you can get the best damn single-origin, oat milk cortado around. I opened my own business because there wasn’t one in Los Angeles like it – a space where marginalized groups could feel safe and welcome in the predominantly white male industry of specialty coffee – so I set out to build it. I was tired of having my opinions dismissed because I was a young brown Filipina woman, and I wanted to see more people like me owning businesses and being the head roaster. K+M Coffee is always focused on being a community space & specialty coffee shop whose quality and consistency rival the best of the best, but makes everyone feel like they have a seat at the table. Opening this shop has been the hardest thing of my life, but also my most worth-it endeavor. We lost our main investor half way through build-out, so we had to do a Kickstarter campaign just to stay alive. Happy to say we surpassed our goal! It was overwhelming to feel the love of a community who couldn’t even set foot inside the space yet, but who were all telling us they already supported us. That lesson is the main thing I’ll never forget – our community has always got our back. We’ve experienced it time and time again, and when the pandemic hit, our community showed up in-person (but 6 ft. away!) and supported online to make sure our doors stayed open and my team stayed on. It’s so touching and moving. It took SO long to open our doors – 2.5 years! – and now, almost 7 years later, the power of human connection is still truly the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a small business owner. When you reach out, someone helps lift you up!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a huge proponent of voting with your dollar, so I would take my best friend to all the best small businesses my city has to offer – ones most likely owned by people of color, or ones with a story behind them. I also am a foodie through and through, so I plan my trips around fun and food! I’d start with my immediate neighborhood of Highland Park – Figueroa St. and York Blvd. are our main drags, and there’s so much to see and do and EAT! First stop would be my shop to grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich to start the day, then we’d go hike Ernest Debs Park or take a long drive up the 2 North for some views. Next would be lunch at our neighbors Burgerlords for the best vegan burgers and shakes around, or at Las Cazuelas for some bombastic pupusas! Dessert would be the double-trouble combo of Scoops Ice Cream and Donut Friend on York, because you can’t pick just one! Then dinner would be at Joy on York because Vivian has created a beautiful homage to her Taiwanese heritage in her dishes that I want everyone to experience. The Eastside is my jam, so we’d definitely stay on Fig and York for the nightlife. We’d possibly see a concert at the Lodge Room next door to my shop, then make our way down to the Gold Line bar for some night caps. California has the incredible pleasure of having so many different terrains and environments all within an hour of each other, so the next things I’d love to show them would showcase that. We’d go to Corner Cottage in Burbank for THE best breakfast burrito in the world (ask for extra salsa on the side!) then head west to go to El Matador beach for some sea-cave action. We’d definitely hit up a brewery after all that sun, and my favorite Highland Park Brewery by LA Historic Park is perfect for some brews, breezy park hangs, and sunset gazing. I’d definitely also take them down the LA River bike path one day – you can go all the way to the beach and back on that path. We’d start in Frogtown and grab my love Justine’s vegan pastries at Just What I Kneaded. Justine Hernandez is a good friend of mine, and she also did a Kickstarter to help her open her dream bakery! Her cinnamon rolls are the GREATEST I’ve ever had. After biking down the river, we’d come back to eat some Wax Paper sandwiches, whose sammies are all names after NPR hosts – I’m an Ira Glass fan forever. One of the days would definitely be dedicated to all the amazing Filipino food my city has to offer. We’d hit up HiFi Kitchen in (you guessed it!) HiFi! Chef and owner Justin Foranda has no formal cooking training, but has such a natural talent for flavor combos and new takes on old favorites. We’d stop by Creme Caramel LA – Kristine de la Cruz has the best Filipino-inspired treats. My favorites are the buko pandan chia pudding and the ube cheesecake pandesal. We’d also stop by Lasa and Petite Peso in Chinatown and DTLA. Both have creative elevations of some Filipino favorites! This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but just a small sampling of my favorite bits of my favorite city. There’s so much more I’d love to cover – like all our little neighborhoods of Thai Town, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, etc – but I could honestly write a book on this because the love I hold for my what city offers runs so deep! You’ll just have to come visit me to experience it all!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without the immense support of my husband and my parents – they’re my rocks. My business wouldn’t be where it is today without my team – they’re the heartbeat of my shop. Their hard work and willingness to go along with me on this crazy journey is something I’m eternally grateful . Also, I am so lucky and privileged to have my baker, Kristine of Creme Caramel LA. She’s my mentor and dear friend, who is always down to try new things with me in this small business life!
Facebook: Kindness and Mischief Coffee
Other: Online Ordering System: https://kandmcoffee.square.site/order
First image of orange door by Brenna Weeks. Group images of group in Bella Vista, MX are by Mayan Harvest Coffee. All other images by K+M Coffee.